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Thread: HALP! Dead WJ and wierd swinging gauges

  1. #1
    Registered Tom_99WJ4.0L's Avatar
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    Icon922 HALP! Dead WJ and wierd swinging gauges

    I hate to do this, as I'm not a very frequent poster or contributor, but my '99 WJ 4.0 L just started something weird, and bothe my son and I have work tomorrow and it's supposed to snow, so I'm hollering HELP to y'all. It's a bone stock '99 Laredo, mostly mom's taxi.

    Symptom: Turn the ignition switch, hear this rapd but not very loud clicking in the dash, it seems from under the passenger side. No dash lights, no gauge lights, and the needles on the gauges swing slowly though varying parts of their range, sometimes as far as all the way to the stop pin.

    Sometimes the clicking and gauge needle swinging happens after I turn it off and pull the key out as well.

    Turn it to start, and it doesn't even try - no started solenoid click, nothing.

    My thoughts are it's an ignition switch or some relay in the dash (the clicking one). The battery is fairly new, though I will run out and check the voltage when the rain quits for a minute. And I'll search the threads, but time is of the essense here so I thought I'll throw this out there first.

    Thanks to anyone who can help!

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom_99WJ4.0L; 04-22-2012 at 08:35 PM. Reason: can't type...

  2. #2
    Stock Is NOT An Option mdoffroad's Avatar
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    nope, take off bother battery terminals, use an AGRESSIVE terminal cleaner, brush,scraper, whatever, even if it looks good. Lead hardens with acid exposure, clean botht he post AND the terminal, try that....99% of the time that fixes it... just try
    MÄττ
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  3. #3
    Registered Tom_99WJ4.0L's Avatar
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    Will do. Thanks! So you're sayin it's a high resistance connection, or low volatge to the ignition circuit, then?

    Heading out...

  4. #4
    Stock Is NOT An Option mdoffroad's Avatar
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    im saying its a very high intermitent connection yes
    MÄττ
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  5. #5
    4 Litres of Fury trail rated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdoffroad View Post
    nope, take off bother battery terminals, use an AGRESSIVE terminal cleaner, brush,scraper, whatever, even if it looks good. Lead hardens with acid exposure, clean botht he post AND the terminal, try that....99% of the time that fixes it... just try
    Yes, corroded, cracked, or loosely fitted battery terminals are usually the cause of this issue. I have had this problem three times in my WJ's life and once helped a ZJer stranded in a parking lot because of this problem.

    If you are stranded somewhere because of corroded battery terminals, get someone to hold the key in the start position while you jiggle the battery terminals around until there is contact and the engine starts.
    |2001 WJ|4,0L|42RE|NV 242|380000 km|ECE Compliant|
    Внедорожник для Экспедиций и Приключений

  6. #6
    Registered Tom_99WJ4.0L's Avatar
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    Ok, Battery voltage was 12.19, not too bad; threw a slow charger on it and it was only putting in 2 amps - low batteries usually draw more than that. Terminlas are tight as all get out. I wonder if I haev a cracked post in the battery?

    Thanks to all of you, I'll keep working along these lines... I'm at home, but the Jeep is out in the driveway and it's acting like winter here again - bitter wind and rain that feels like needles... Murphy's law of aauto breakdowns, it's been good all week until today, but i was out of town and my wife hadn't moved it since Thursday!

    Thanks again,

    Tom

  7. #7
    Stock Is NOT An Option mdoffroad's Avatar
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    the voltage can lie... did you actualy unhook the terminals and clean them or just take a reading??
    MÄττ
    Hangin' on JU for more than 13 years now!!



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    Registered Tom_99WJ4.0L's Avatar
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    Yeah, I know, and no, I didn't- but I will. It seems to me that I've heard that a high resistance on your ground can cause problems, too. I had to brake hard just lately and it did this right after that, then it was ok for a while. I think we're on to somnething here.

    Thanks again!

    Tom

    Update: I was able to jump it and get it into the garage. I'll start tearing it apart in the morning, it's almots 11:00 PM here. Thanks, everyone!
    Last edited by Tom_99WJ4.0L; 04-22-2012 at 11:41 PM. Reason: Update

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    Registered Billy Ray's Avatar
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    Tom,

    The WJ series is well known for it propensity to throw all kinds of bizarre electrical behaviors if the battery is not 100% or there is corrosion (resistance) of the hot or ground circuits.
    -br

    Helping one another is why we are all here on Jeeps-Unlimited, or should be.
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  10. #10

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    Tom
    Try adding a second earth strap from the body to battery -ve terminal (but use a different body earth point!) and even add a further Engine/Transmission to body strap.
    I've done this to my WJ and my wife's Celica - it keeps the return path good!

    Good Luck

  11. #11
    Registered Tom_99WJ4.0L's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Well paint me green and call me Gumby...

    Well, I want to thank everyone. I'll be gobsmacked. All I did was clean the positive terminal and viola... Dash lights up, she cranks & starts. So of course I did the ground terminal as well. They sure didn't LOOK bad, and they were good and tight.

    It's just kind of amazing to me. The circuit couldn't be that bad, if the starter relay kicks in there is plenty of voltage and current capacity to do the hardest duty the circuit gets, which is cranking the motor. So it is so stinking senstive to what? voltage? I'd measured 12.19 on the leads (not the terminal posts) last night. So is it current capacity? Really? with enough current capacity to start the motor? Man, that is some strange behavior!

    Well, I checked the alternator output while I was at it, and it was a healthy 14.25 or thereabouts. So that closes the books on this one.

    Thanks again to everyone!

    Tom

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_99WJ4.0L View Post
    Well, I want to thank everyone. I'll be gobsmacked. All I did was clean the positive terminal and viola... Dash lights up, she cranks & starts. So of course I did the ground terminal as well. They sure didn't LOOK bad, and they were good and tight.

    It's just kind of amazing to me. The circuit couldn't be that bad, if the starter relay kicks in there is plenty of voltage and current capacity to do the hardest duty the circuit gets, which is cranking the motor. So it is so stinking senstive to what? voltage? I'd measured 12.19 on the leads (not the terminal posts) last night. So is it current capacity? Really? with enough current capacity to start the motor? Man, that is some strange behavior!

    Well, I checked the alternator output while I was at it, and it was a healthy 14.25 or thereabouts. So that closes the books on this one.

    Thanks again to everyone!

    Tom

    You'd be surprised at what resistance in a circuit can do.



    James

  13. #13

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    I'm having the same exact problem. It is completely intermittent. It has never left me stranded. But it's taking even longer to start now than ever. I had the battery and the alternator tested, all was strong. I changed out my battery terminals, cleaned all meticulously and there has been no change. I just keep turning the key, and eventually it cranks over. Or.... I just hold the key for 20-30 seconds, and it cranks. But it's getting worse, in a hurry.

    Help!?! What next?

    TIA

    D

  14. #14

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    I had the same problem with my 04 WJ. It turned out to be a corroded ground. Check all ur grounds and make sure they are clean. Mine was the main ground to the block so maybe start there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom_99WJ4.0L View Post
    Well, I want to thank everyone. I'll be gobsmacked. All I did was clean the positive terminal and viola... Dash lights up, she cranks & starts. So of course I did the ground terminal as well. They sure didn't LOOK bad, and they were good and tight.

    It's just kind of amazing to me. The circuit couldn't be that bad, if the starter relay kicks in there is plenty of voltage and current capacity to do the hardest duty the circuit gets, which is cranking the motor. So it is so stinking senstive to what? voltage? I'd measured 12.19 on the leads (not the terminal posts) last night. So is it current capacity? Really? with enough current capacity to start the motor? Man, that is some strange behavior!

    Well, I checked the alternator output while I was at it, and it was a healthy 14.25 or thereabouts. So that closes the books on this one.

    Thanks again to everyone!

    Tom
    I am sure you were gobsmacked. All that under the hood need various bits of attention. Not just oil and gas. Cleaning them before each winter helps in the cold months when you need all the power available. Batteries weaken over time and evenually have to be replaced.

    Look after it or have your wife do it for you.

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    Registered xJoshxx's Avatar
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    Damn crazy wj's and their sensitive electronics.!

    Mine did that too had to get out wiggle the cables.

  17. #17

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    Thanks guys!!!!

    Yeah, it's way past the wiggling the cables stage. I jumped the relay, it hesitated and started. So I purchased a new relay for it. Haven't put it in yet as it's now it's doing its intermittent starting thing to lull me into a false sense of security. (I don't think it's the relay, but I keep throwing cheap things at it in the hopes I get lucky).

    I agree, it's probably a faulty ground somewhere. I read on another forum a guy with the same symptoms had a bad ground cable, corroded badly only about 4" from the battery, under the factory shielding. I'll play with the connections where I can, but if that doesn't address it, I might just have a mechanic replace the cables - I can't really get at all of the ground locations.

    Thanks for all your help. I'll report back when/if it ever gets consistent.

    D

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