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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me first say that I absolutely love this forum! Whenever I have an issues with my Jeep, I always search this forum for possible diagnosis and repair. Thanks to all the valuable information, my experience has been awesome!

Today was the first time I can remember that when researching my new problem that I have been unable to find much about this problem. Maybe I am using the wrong wording when searching, but I am in need of some assistance please.

I have a 98 grand Cherokee Laredo 4.0, which I have been experiencing a parasitic drain over the last six months and have been trying to locate the source of the drain. Like so many others, if I don’t start it up for a day or so I end up having to jump it off. Thankfully my parents have let me use their vehicle until I figure it out.

I work on it some days and then get frustrated or overwhelmed and will
leave it for a week or so before working on it again. But after a few weeks of my car sitting in the driveway with the battery dead, I decided to work on it today. When I opened the drivers side door, I was shocked to see that something had happened to my passenger side door. It looked like it possibly burned up and melted the area near the locks and went about 8” from that point.

So I removed the door panel thinking I might have finally found the source of my drain. All the hard black plastic that was inside the door broke off in a lot of pieces. I thought it would be pretty easy to see what failed and caused it to burn up once I removed the door, but to my surprise I didn’t see anything melted or burned up that could have caused the exterior damage. The wiring harness and wires appeared to be fine and nothing really appeared to look burned or bad.

Obviously, there is a problem, but I am not sure where to start. I will try and attach pictures which hopefully explains what I am trying to communicate in this post. Any suggestions or advice will be greatly appreciated!

And even worse is that I am independent, and a little stubborn at times, but after being screwed over so many times by repair shops - especially the dealerships - just for being a female, I now prefer researching and figuring things out on my own and fixing It the right way the first time by doing it myself. If it is something I cannot do, though, I will just have to bite the bullet and take it in to the shop but not before exhausting all my options first.

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I'm just wild guessing here, but that looks to me like it was melted from the surface not from the backside by a hot wire or something.

So, "a few weeks sitting in the driveway" makes me wonder:
- if there was something inside that got hot from the sun and fell up against the door,
or
- was there something in the seat or elsewhere inside that reflected and concentrated the sunlight on the door such that the it melted a little bit each day and along a line as the sun moved across the sky,
or
- because I have seen it reported that you can buy little lasers online now that are powerful enough to melt plastic at a distance, maybe you have a neighborhood vandal who melted it through the window.

Wild guesses I know, but if there is no melted wire behind the door panel, and with me thinking it looks like it melted from the front, those are what I dreamed up. Concentrated reflected sunlight is probably my favorite.
 

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The sun would never do that, so let’s just get that out of the way. I was initially going to say wires to the window switch, but look at the bottom of that melt mark (it’s only melted a little bit and from the surface)…as RedRiver mentioned, it looks like something touched it rather than it burned from the back side. I was going to mention a chemical being splashed on it which melted the plastic (gel paint stripper would do this), but the melting doesn’t look chemical induced. Any idea of what could have happened in the Jeep ?? Was anyone in it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm just wild guessing here, but that looks to me like it was melted from the surface not from the backside by a hot wire or something.

So, "a few weeks sitting in the driveway" makes me wonder:
- if there was something inside that got hot from the sun and fell up against the door,
or
- was there something in the seat or elsewhere inside that reflected and concentrated the sunlight on the door such that the it melted a little bit each day and along a line as the sun moved across the sky,
or
- because I have seen it reported that you can buy little lasers online now that are powerful enough to melt plastic at a distance, maybe you have a neighborhood vandal who melted it through the window.

Wild guesses I know, but if there is no melted wire behind the door panel, and with me thinking it looks like it melted from the front, those are what I dreamed up. Concentrated reflected sunlight is probably my favorite.
I'm just wild guessing here, but that looks to me like it was melted from the surface not from the backside by a hot wire or something.

So, "a few weeks sitting in the driveway" makes me wonder:
- if there was something inside that got hot from the sun and fell up against the door,
or
- was there something in the seat or elsewhere inside that reflected and concentrated the sunlight on the door such that the it melted a little bit each day and along a line as the sun moved across the sky,
or
- because I have seen it reported that you can buy little lasers online now that are powerful enough to melt plastic at a distance, maybe you have a neighborhood vandal who melted it through the window.

Wild guesses I know, but if there is no melted wire behind the door panel, and with me thinking it looks like it melted from the front, those are what I dreamed up. Concentrated reflected sunlight is probably my favorite.
Thank you so much for your response and thank you for not making me feel crazy or paranoid. But when I opened the door to check it, it almost seemed like my interior upper right corner by the glass was pulled away which was odd and I wondered if someone has possibly tried to use something to unlock it!

Then while I was looking at the door before removing it, it really wasn’t making sense to me. I figured I was just being foolish, but I wondered myself if someone could have done that but I had no idea how that would be accomplished. So I just reverted back to trying to be rational about the situation and just figured when I removed the panel that I would see some type of burn marks or wires. But nope, it was clean as a whistle which left me totally at a loss!

After reading your response, though, I tend to agree that the likelihood fits the latter possibility. I am not sure why I continue to doubt my gut or intuition because it always seems to be right! I have a camera on my garage right in front of the vehicle, so now I am going to check and see how long I can go back on it to see if I see something that might lead me to the answer I am looking for on this!

I do have a neighbor who parks his boat along with others right across from me where they are not suppose to be. They believebecause they have always done it makes it okay regardless of the fact that they are not suppose to be there. After a number of us have had our mailboxes knocked down without a note left or acknowledgment to fix it. They also have backed up in our yards, so that is why we installed the camera. I finally said something to him about it not that long ago for the third time since asking him nicely and he responded by cussing at me and telling me to get my *** back in the house! His girlfriend yelled out,“mind your own business and leave us alone you old heffer”! I was caught off guard by their behavior with one being a doctor and his girlfriend being a nurse. But then again, I know better, but before I knew it I had blurted out, “can we not have an adult conversation? Instead y’all are acting like white trash”! I hate that I stopped to their level, but a person can only take so much!

Thanks again! If I am able to find anything I will let you know. Take care!
 

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Look at the hinge area. I’m going with lighting strike lol.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The sun would never do that, so let’s just get that out of the way. I was initially going to say wires to the window switch, but look at the bottom of that melt mark (it’s only melted a little bit and from the surface)…as RedRiver mentioned, it looks like something touched it rather than it burned from the back side. I was going to mention a chemical being splashed on it which melted the plastic (gel paint stripper would do this), but the melting doesn’t look chemical induced. Any idea of what could have happened in the Jeep ?? Was anyone in it?
No, nobody has been it. I am the only one who drives it and the last time I had been in it was a few weeks ago.

But now that I am thinking about it, ii did see some kind of stringy thread-looking things hanging down from the door on the inside before I removed the door panel like you would see if it was melted. But it was strange, where it started just at the edge of where I would have expected the burn to have originated. Actually that is why I took a close up picture to see if anybody else would comment about it because it didn’t make sense at all!

I sure hope that my suspicions are not correct. I would never accuse anyone of anything before I had all the facts, but he is the only person that has been so rude and aggressive in my neighborhood and that was just something that happened recently and I have lived here for over 20 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Look at the hinge area. I’m going with lighting strike lol.
Okay, let me start off by apologizing for being really ditzy at times and never getting jokes. I especially cringe and panic when I tell people that and they say “oh, you will get this one”! At which point, I need a drink!

Are you being funny or making a joke about the lightning because we have had some really bad weather over the past couple of weeks. Feel free to laugh if I have made an *** of myself, because I can handle it and I am always a good sport!
 

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Okay, let me start off by apologizing for being really ditzy at times and never getting jokes. I especially cringe and panic when I tell people that and they say “oh, you will get this one”! At which point, I need a drink!

Are you being funny or making a joke about the lightning because we have had some really bad weather over the past couple of weeks. Feel free to laugh if I have made an *** of myself, because I can handle it and I am always a good sport!
I’d say a little of both. Unless a meth head broke in and torched the door, all I could come up with was lighting strike. Then I saw your hinge looks “disturbing” in the background- its most likely not but- what’s up with the door jamb hinge area?
 
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It does looked blackened and scorched just below the lower hinge in 2nd photo but it's hard tell since it's not the focus of pic.

Or are your jambs just that dirty or rusted!!!???

probably wrenchin instead of wheelin
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It does looked blackened and scorched just below the lower hinge in 2nd photo but it's hard tell since it's not the focus of pic.

Or are your jambs just that dirty or rusted!!!???

probably wrenchin instead of wheelin
Well, you may actually be on to something. I will attach better, but not good, pictures and it does look like it is charred or something near the floorboard/footwell. I would go out and take some more pics, but I just left my Jeep down the street at a friend’s house. I will check tomorrow.

I will have to research to see what is located in that area and look for possible causes. It is weird though trying to see how it went from that point to close to the door handle. But maybe with help, I can finally understand it.
Those hinges are probably both, dirty and possibly a little rusty. Don’t judge me…lol! The drivers side isn’t that bad, but I am less likely to have noticed the passenger side hinges.
About a year ago I read the hinges and pins go out, so I bought some new ones and asked my dad to help me replace the driver’s side. Well, it turns out that just as others warned that the door is so damn heavy and bulky. After finally removing it, my dad checked the hinges and was kind of irritated and frustrated when he checked and they were still good. I mentioned possibly checking the passenger side hinges, but his look spoke volumes and I near that was not going to happen. Maybe I should have pushed a little harder to check them another day, though, because they do look worse than I remember.
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We had a picture in a local newspaper past week where a lightning strike close to a van had separated the whole door outer skin from the door frame, and did a bunch of damage inside the vehicle. I'd say it's not totally out of the question it's something like that, even though it could be a bit far- fetched idea if there are no marks anywhere on the outside of the vehicle.

As for the sun reflection from ie. a water bottle, it can certainly melt plastic - it's the same principle as using a magnifying glass to start a fire. We had exactly that happen to our XJ when we lived in Malaysia - water bottle concentrated sun light to a beam and partially melted a plastic trim piece in the center console.
 

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Anything hanging from your rear view mirror that can reflect or focus light?
 
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The sun part does in theory work, but it would be a fluke….also the sun moves in increments, so it wouldn’t be focused in a precise spot for very long (but then again the melt line is sweeping..??). That aside, ZJ cup holders are lower and back from the dash. The light wouldn’t be refracted upward because the sun is above the cup holder…at best the water would cause light to be refracted at an angle (like 45 degrees let’s say), but not a negative abgle.

Same with the mirror theory. The rearview mirror is the only mirror that could possibly do this because of it’s placement (side mirrors reflections would be partially blocked by the top of the window ledge), but in order for it to, the sun would have to be perfectly in the window (basically centered), and the mirror to be angled in a weird and particular way. And for the sun to be that low, it would be either early morning or sun set…and the sun’s force isn’t particularly strong during either of those times. Also most ZJs had sunscreen tint in all but front windows, as well as along the top of the windshield. There’s no logical explanation for the sun beam’s trajectory in this direction I would think. (Sorry to nerd out. I’m calling upon some knowledge I rarely use here lol)
 

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I was thinking more of this type of thing.

 

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^ that could be a variable!!

I was still thinking something may have spilled on it that over a couple of days had a reaction to the plastic. But the melt bits look small like it was one part at a time, slowly and concentrated (as if moving up/down slowly)…hard to tell though.

But enough guessing, take the door panel off and see what’s going on lol!. Going to need a new one anyway.
 

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In the last picture in her first post, if you look at the bottom of the melted area, there are 2 sharp points and then to their right there are 2 or 3 more blunted points that are not melted very deep. Those could be where a melt line started on successive days, offset because of the angle change of the sun from one day to the next. The sun ray wasn't strong enough at that time to melt deep, plus it had to heat up the plastic for a little while in order to fully melt in. So the whole melted area is the result of several days of melts right beside each other.

As far as the hinge looking burnt, lightning is definitely a possibility, but I would say that it appears the hinge has been welded back on at some point in the past and was never cleaned up.
 

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Something from the rear view mirror seems plausible, but don't rule out something from outside the jeep shining thru either.

There are many reports of house windows melting the plastic siding of the house next door
.

It's not too big of a stretch to think that type of thing couldnt happen in a more concentrated pattern

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That's very strange, I vote for lightning strike. My dash is warped from sitting in the Florida sun but it's obviously never got that hot. Do you have a crack in the windshield to focus the sun's energy?
 
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