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Old 05-14-2010, 08:50 AM   #1
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Bizarre issue starting Wrangler

I've read all of the "Jeep won't start" threads and hate to get repetitive, but need some assistance.

Last night my 2004 Rubicon refused to fire up. When I turned on the ignition, nothing happened. My odometer numbers did not light up and no gauges or interior lights came on. When I pulled the key from the ignition, the RPM and Speedometer gauge jumped all the way and then all the way down.

I assumed the battery was the issue, as I couldn't get the headlights to come on. But after inspecting the cables and the connection, it appeared alright. So, as every manual transmission guy does, I pushed it in neutral and popped the clutch. The Jeep started, but then died after I stopped giving it gas.

I turned the ignition again and heard a clicking noise under the hood. I popped it open and found the Starter Fuse Relay was clicking every time I turned the key. So now I'm more baffled.

(1) Is the battery the problem? Minimal to no power is passing through the Jeep, so I feel like I have a connection problem. But...
(2) The Starter Relay is clicking like crazy and the Jeep won't even turn over. Is this the problem?
(3) If the Stater Relay is clicking, is the starter the problem? Or is the relay switch the problem?
(4) The Jeep can be jumped, but it's dying. Now I'm wondering if it's the alternator that's gone bad.

This is a full description of what's going on. Jeep is sitting at girlfriend's apartment so before I return, I'd like to have a list of suggestions and possible remedies. It appears there are a bunch of symptoms for a bunch of problems prevalent, but I'm hoping some of you may have had the same experience and know the root of the problem.

Many thanks.

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Old 05-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #2
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First remove connecitons to battery, clean then until there is no corrosion.

Also check battery voltage

If its low you can try to charge it.

Quick way is : If there is an AUtozone nearby they will check your alternator/battery for free...I'd suggest that if the above doesn't solve issue.

I had exact same situation, I had to stay in the throttle to keep it alive. Problem was corrosion on the battery terminals...AUtozone sells a spray that eats the stuff off, then you want to get a terminal brush and clean both the male and female ends. Then I personally would suggest the little $1 felt pads that go under the cables...they seem to work rather well.

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Old 05-14-2010, 08:57 AM   #3
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It's likely just the battery. My wife's 2005 Grand Cherokee did this, and I thought something terrible was wrong. It cranked fine literally up until one day when it did NOTHING, then started making all sorts of crazy noises under the hood. I called the dealership with fear in my voice, and he stopped me and said "it's just the battery is dead." Try a new one, or one from another car. I bet that's all it is.
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:05 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions, guys! I'll be headed over there in a few and will work on those cables and the battery terminal. My gut feeling is the battery is dead/dying, but when noises start coming from nowhere, well, that's when we all start to panic...

Will post with an update...Thanks!
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:18 AM   #5
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Your Jeep in possessed. jk

Same thing happened to me. Replaced the battery and wire brushed the connections. Good as new.
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:41 AM   #6
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Yeah, the noises freaked me out too.. I thought the Grand Cherokee was fried.. I just saw dollar signs.. but $50 later I was fine.
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:43 AM   #7
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Insanely I was hoping mine was the battery, the PO put a cheapo Autozone battery in....and I kinda don't like it being there...but it hasn't died yet so I'll keep it.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:21 AM   #8
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yeah batteries only last about five years. Even if they read 12v or 13v they really need to be load tested to determine if they are crapped out.

At least once per year its a good habit to pull both battery cables, clean with baking soda/water to kill the acid, wire brush or sand the posts inside and out, then tighten it all back down. Especially before winter as we hate being stranded out in the cold for something so stupid.
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:41 PM   #9
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UPDATE:

Took the Battery out and ran it over to the bright ones (sarcasm) at Autozone. Battery had a bad cell according to their tester. For the first time in my life, the battery was covered under the warranty and they handed me a new one. I took it back, cleaned the battery cables, and popped it in. The engine turned over and all the lights came on, but she refused to idle. I let her sit about 5 minutes and then cranked her up. She fired up and stayed running.

Now, hopefully my last question for a while, does anyone feel I should unbolt the alternator and take it for a test? I still have this sinking feeling the alternator may be on it's last leg, but I'm not sure as I've never had to replace one. The battery gauge on the dash has been constant and shows to sign of trouble, but bizarrely, the temperature gauge danced around on me the other day (prior to failure to start). Comments? Help? Advice?
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Old 05-14-2010, 01:20 PM   #10
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You'll know by watching your voltage guage.

Lets say it is at 12.5v with the key on. After you start it, does it stay right at 12.5v when it is running? Or does it bump up higher to 13v, 14v or 14.5v? If it bumps higher with the engine running your alternator is fine.

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