01 XJ inconsistent starting, elec probs, new radio?! - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-10-2015, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Burnsville
Posts: 29
01 XJ inconsistent starting, elec probs, new radio?!


My wife bought me a great new stereo to replace the stock module. I did the install and did my best to make sure all wires hooked up correctly and everything was taped up and no exposed wires(not my first wiring rodeo).

A few days later I came home parked my XJ in the driveway so I could work in the garage on some drywall, it was extremely cold here the next few days, -12 F overnight and I came out the next morning and as i turned the key I heard nothing, no click, no turn over, no nothing. But all the lights were operational and the stereo was working.

After a few days of trying to push the car in, I had help come to the rescue, and we got it inside. Here I had my wife try to turn it over as I had a volt meter on the battery and it started fine. I had just tried to start it before we pushed it in and it did the same as before with no click and no turn over.

I was suspicious that maybe I had wired something wrong in the radio and wondered if it was related but I couldn't consistently recreate the problem.

After a few more situations arose I found if I jiggled the faceplate on the radio or if I put the vehicle in gear and I shift the vehicle forward and backward slightly while sitting in the cabin I was able to start it. So now i am trying to determine if the starter has a bad spot?

Well today we were driving it and it was already warmed up from being in the garage overnight and I was driving out of the neighborhood only to look down to see the Check Gauges light on and see the volt meter reading 19 volts?! I turned around went home, this was all of 5 minutes of driving and as I pulled into the garage I noticed the headlights were flickering like they were directly tied to the alternator. Then as I turned the key off I notice I could not get one accessory to operate. Not the headlights, radio, dash, and this time I couldn't get it to turn over.

Well i went out a few hours later to start working on it and thought, why not, I tried to turn the car over and saw that it turned all accessories on and turned over just fine.

I proceeded to shut it off, clean the battery terminals and now wait to see if I can recreate the same situation tonight but I am baffled. The negative post may have been slightly loose from the radio install, the screw is difficult to tighten up all the way. So I will attempt this next experiment but i would like to know what should I do next? Where should I look? Alternator, new starter, new voltage regulator, new fuses or relays? Any help would be appreciated.

I may also try to re install the last radio to see if the problem persists.

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post #2 of 4 Old 01-10-2015, 07:49 PM
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: out in the garage - Minneapolis
Posts: 27,559
Fix any known problems or maintenance issues first. The volt meter going to 19 volts suggest a battery/alternator wiring issue.

Perform routine maintenance of the start and charge systems. Remove, clean, and firmly reconnect all the wires and cables to the battery, starter, and alternator. Look for corroded or damaged cables or connectors and replace as needed. Copper wires should be copper color, not black or green. Do the same for the grounding wires from the starter to engine block, the ground wires at the coil, and the ground wires from the battery and engine to the Jeep's frame/body. You must remove, wire brush, and clean until shiny the cable/wire ends and whatever they bolt to.

Jeeps do not tolerate low voltage, bad wire connections, or poor grounds.

Place your DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Multi-Meter) on the 20 volt scale. First check battery voltage by placing your multi-meter's positive lead on the battery's positive post ( the actual post, not the clamp ) and the negative lead on the negative post. You need a minimum of 12 volts to continue testing. Next, leave your meter connected and take a reading while the engine is cranking. Record this voltage reading. Now connect your positive lead to the battery terminal stud on the starter and the negative lead to the starter housing. Again, crank the engine and record the voltage reading. If the voltage reading at the starter is not within 1 volt of battery voltage then you have excessive voltage drop in the starter circuit.

Typical voltage drop maximums:
starter circuit (including starter solenoid) = 0.60 volt
battery post to battery terminal end = zero volts
battery main cable (measured end to end) 0.20 volt
starter solenoid = 0.20 volt
battery negative post to alternator metal frame = 0.20 volt
negative main cable to engine block = 0.20 volt
negative battery post to starter metal frame = 0.30
battery positive post to alternator b+stud = 0.5 volt with maximum charging load applied (all accessories turned on)

Test the output at the alternator with your volts/ohms multi-meter. You should be measuring 13.8-14.4 volts. Load testing the alternator is still recommended.


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post #3 of 4 Old 01-11-2015, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Burnsville
Posts: 29
I finally had time to take it out for a test drive after taking the battery cables off and cleaning all access points then put it back together and so far it is running better than before I took the radio out. So, here is hoping problem is solved.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-11-2015, 10:18 PM
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1981 CJ7 
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Location: Bali
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All symotoms are consistent with a bad battery connection. Could be something else but you may have found the problem.

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1981 CJ7 258ci - Bagusjeep
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alternator , electrical , radio , starter , xj

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