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Old 05-05-2012, 04:00 PM   #1
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Unhappy HELP......getting desperate here! 97 with 2.5l dead 4x now!!!!!

OK everyone,

I posted a few weeks ago and have still not found my solution. PLEASE GENIUS JEEP FOLKS HELP ME OUT. I have a 1997 TJ 2.5l with 132k. It is my first Jeep and I am new to the whole Jeep thing. We bought it as our third car, beach jeep etc.

We bought it 6 weeks ago and drove it home 300+ miles. About 200 miles into the trip the volt gauge spiked and then came back down in a few miles. Additionally, it began to sputter at about 3000 rpms for a few seconds and then go away. It did this probably 10 times during the last 100 miles home (highway driving).

I then parked it for a few days and began to investigate what the problem might be. The Jeep had a new exhaust manifold and tune up before I purchased the Jeep. I double checked the tune up and parts (cap, rotor, wires, plugs compression test, etc). I then decided to try to put a new coil into the truck as well as a CPS (as it had a frayed wire). I also put in a new alternator to hopefully fix the volt spike.

I drove the Jeep around town and it then seemed to fix the sputtering, however after 20 miles it died while driving down the road. DEATH #1!!!! It would restart but run really rough and then only drive 1/2 mile and die again.

I read online that it may be a temp sensor. I got the Jeep back home after letting it cool down and then it idled fine in the garage for 45 mins. I started it back up and found that it was runnning rough again. I unplugged the temp sensor and everything seemed fine. I drove it around the neighborhood, everything seemed fine. I went to the auto parts store and picked up a new temp sensor and off we went.

Next the check engine light came on within 20 miles and spit out an O2 sensor code. The truck was driving, but rough at idle and acceleration. I then went and put in a new upstream o2 sensor. Check engine light went out, Jeep drove great. I then drove it for a few hundred miles over the next few weeks without any issues.

Then we took the Jeep to dinner after regaining some confidence with its reliability and it drove fine, on the way home looking at some houses in the neighborhood it died at 10 MPH. I restarted it. It died. I restarted it drove and then backfired! It would not restart. DEATH # 2. I pulled the codes and it spit out a MAP sensor. So I went to the store and put in a new MAP sensor. The Jeep started right back up and drove home ok.

The next morning we all piled into the Jeep and drove it to my sons soccer game (about 15 miles away). We got 10 miles into the trip and I lost all power at 50 MPH on the road and then the Jeep backfired again. DEATH # 3. It would not restart at all. I called a tow truck and brought it to my local mechanic.

The local mechanic just had the Jeep for a week and found a bad CAT and distributor. He replaced both and drove it around town for 30+ miles with no problem. I picked it up this morning, it started fine, drove ok. Although it feels like it lost some power. I drove it 20 miles, parked it for an hour. It then had difficulty restarting. After 3 attempts it started up with a rough idle. I was very low on fuel and thought it might be a fuel problem. I stopped for gas, filled up the tank and tried to restart the truck. NO GO! Death # 4. It wanted to started but it just doesnt wont to fire up. It was really close at starting but not quite. We left the Jeep for a few hours and will attempt to go rescue it later tonight.

The bottom line is that it seems to continue to be this problem we are chasing, however the warmer it is outside the quicker the problem seems to occur. The few weeks that we drove it around fine was cooler (70 F). Now the weather is 90 F and it doesn't seem to run very long in the heat. I had since flushed the radiator and put in new fluid and the temp seems to stay steady at 210 F while running. The Jeep is running well after the engine warms up. It is a good 15-20 mins into the drive in warm temperatures.

HELP! Any ideas? The engine is not throwing any codes at this point.
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Old 05-05-2012, 05:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sktownsend View Post
The Jeep had a new exhaust manifold and tune up before I purchased the Jeep...... I double checked the tune up and parts (cap, rotor, wires, plugs compression test, etc). I then decided to try to put a new coil into the truck as well as a CPS (as it had a frayed wire). I also put in a new alternator to hopefully fix the volt spike....read online that it may be a temp sensor. I got the Jeep back home after letting it cool down and then it idled fine in the garage for 45 mins. I started it back up and found that it was runnning rough again. I unplugged the temp sensor and everything seemed fine. I drove it around the neighborhood, everything seemed fine. I went to the auto parts store and picked up a new temp sensor and off we went....Next the check engine light came on within 20 miles and spit out an O2 sensor code. The truck was driving, but rough at idle and acceleration. I then went and put in a new upstream o2 sensor. Check engine light went out, Jeep drove great. I then drove it for a few hundred miles over the next few weeks without any issues....Then we took the Jeep to dinner after regaining some confidence with its reliability and it drove fine, on the way home looking at some houses in the neighborhood it died at 10 MPH. I restarted it. It died. I restarted it drove and then backfired! It would not restart. DEATH # 2. I pulled the codes and it spit out a MAP sensor. So I went to the store and put in a new MAP sensor. The Jeep started right back up and drove home ok....The local mechanic just had the Jeep for a week and found a bad CAT and distributor. He replaced both and drove it around town for 30+ miles with no problem....
You've replace just about the entire system. My guess is you've either got bad grounds or a computer that's on death's door. I'm still leaning towards an electrical issue, as you keep finding codes, yet when repaired the symptoms are still there. Could also be a fuel problem, either a dying fuel pump (as it warms up), or a clogged fuel filter, or clogged injectors, etc. Fuel pumps are cheap, as are fuel filters. That pump is 15 years old, and suspect simply due to old age.
Where do you reside? I may have a spare 97 TJ 4cyl computer that you could borrow for a few months. I did a V8 swap. Just cannot remember where that box of crap is stored.
Edit: One more thing to remember, just because you put on a new part (see list above), doesn't mean it was a GOOD part. You wouldn't be the first person to install a brand new defective part.

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Old 05-05-2012, 06:07 PM   #3
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TreeClimber thank you for the quick response. I just tried to go get the Jeep running down the street and no luck. It has been sitting for 6 hours now so pretty cold start up and it would not start. It fired a few times and even started for about 20 seconds and then dies. I guess it is staying there tonight.

Do you know where all the grounds are on the Jeep? I know there is a group of them on the passenger side engine block near the oil filter. Are there others that I should check?

I am in South Carolina. I would be grateful if I could borrow your computer to see if that is the problem before shelling out anymore money. After spending almost $1000 this week at the local repair shop, I am getting pretty frustrated at this point.
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sktownsend View Post
TreeClimber thank you for the quick response. I just tried to go get the Jeep running down the street and no luck. It has been sitting for 6 hours now so pretty cold start up and it would not start. It fired a few times and even started for about 20 seconds and then dies. I guess it is staying there tonight.

Do you know where all the grounds are on the Jeep? I know there is a group of them on the passenger side engine block near the oil filter. Are there others that I should check?

I am in South Carolina. I would be grateful if I could borrow your computer to see if that is the problem before shelling out anymore money. After spending almost $1000 this week at the local repair shop, I am getting pretty frustrated at this point.
A computer is, in effect, a grounding switch circuit block. However, if the computer cannot get that juice to it's ground (and back to the battery), then it's efforts to be effective are limited. Just look at every wiring terminus, where it grounds to the body, grounds to the frame, grounds to the battery. If you see corrosion, then clean with a wire brush & install a 'star' washer to promote good electrical contact.

I'm trying to remember what my 2.5's fuel system looked like, so, this is by memory, and I may be wrong. You should be able to check fuel pressure by the fuel rail. It should have a shrader valve (like a tire) which you can connect to a fuel pressure guage. As you key up the ignition, it should energize the pump, thereby pressurizing the fuel line. Check pressure. If you have too little pressure, then the engine will not fire.

On my YJ, (I had both a TJ & YJ) the pump was old and tired, it would start fine cold, but the more you drove it, the worse it ran. We hooked up a scanner, and you could see the injector pulses lengthening, as the O2 sensor tried to even out the 'lean' condition. Even though the pressure was sufficient, the volumn was declining as the pump warmed up. We replaced the pump, and solved the driveabity issue. However, I never had any check engine issues.

IF I was you, I'd go to my local O'Reilleys (or insert other big-box auto parts chain) and buy a fuel pump. Should run around $50-75 for the pump alone, and around $100-150 with the fuel tank sender unit attached. Syphon the full tank of fuel. Then drop the tank and swap out the unit. At the same time, I'd replace the filter. You've already dumped $2000. This extra little will eliminate another potential hickup.

That typed, I'm still leaning towards a near death (or now dead) computer.

If you were nearby (I'm in Washington), I'd be inclined to loan it to you. However, you're so far away, I'd have no recourse for recovering it, should you 'forget'. I've been burned a few times with loaned parts, so I try to keep them local. In case I need to go visit.

Good luck in your repair efforts. I'll try and check on this thread in a couple days.
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Old 05-05-2012, 06:25 PM   #5
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Do you ever get Check Engine lights? If so, and after it dies, I'd use the TJ's built-in diagnostic routine to see if there are any stored trouble codes. Only 98-00 TJs do not have this built-in function.

To start the diagnostics, turn the ignition switch on-off-on three times within five seconds leaving it in the on position. Wait. Several second later, any stored diagnostic codes will display. If you did the procedure correctly, you will always get at least the 55 code which only indicates no more codes follow. If only the 55 shows, there are no trouble codes stored.

If you have any codes that show up, they can be defined at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/rec.an.../general/part3
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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TreeClimber,

I am happy to write you a check and send it to you to test the computer and if I dont return it feel free to cash it. I just got back home after trying the jeep one last time and guess what......it started right up. I drove it home the few miles, shut it off at the house and it started right back up....I went back a few mins later and it still started right back up.

It definately seems to be temp related, it was 92 F here today and the Jeep ran fine until it was shut off, then it would not start up again today in the heat. Tonight it is 74 and the Jeep is running fine. It only seems to die when it is hot outside (85 + F) and the Jeep has been run for 15-20 mins of running time. I would think that if it was engine related and not electrical or fuel once the engine temp came up to 210 F (within 5 mins) the problem would develop.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:04 PM   #7
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Jerry,

I have had several codes come up including the following

- exceeded Voltage
- engine misfire
- Crank Shaft Position
- MAP sensor
- O2 sensor

All of these problems were fixed with new parts. Currently the engine diagnostic is not pulling any codes but the normal 12 and 55. Additionally, the Jeep checked out on the computer at the repair shop down the road.

I am at a loose of what the problem is. It is obviously not a consistent problem which makes it really annoying to diagnose.

Any thoughts from other would be more than welcome. Thanks so much for everyone taking the time to read the post!
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:36 PM   #8
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We had a very similar problem with GMC Yukon. it would intermittently, lose power, and die. would have various codes, O2, Lean, various others. usually let it sit, and would restart and run fine for few months. then do it all again. the last time, we could only get about 5 miles at a time, before it would die. I had checked the fuel pressure when we got it home, but it always read okay. The last time, I had my son bring the pressure gauge to me where it died, sure enough, no pressure. Replaced the fuel pump/sending unit. it has fine since.
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by akavelo View Post
We had a very similar problem with GMC Yukon. it would intermittently, lose power, and die. would have various codes, O2, Lean, various others. usually let it sit, and would restart and run fine for few months. then do it all again. the last time, we could only get about 5 miles at a time, before it would die. I had checked the fuel pressure when we got it home, but it always read okay. The last time, I had my son bring the pressure gauge to me where it died, sure enough, no pressure. Replaced the fuel pump/sending unit. it has fine since.
That's why I encouraged him to put a pump on it. An electric pump, as it warms up, looses effeciency. If it's already worn, and the ambient temp is high, the pump will 'overheat' quicker and lose volume/pressure. IF you have a smart scanner (or the mechanic does) you should be able to watch the injector pulse length, as the O2 sensor cycles the lean/rich condition in the engine. If the pump is 'dying', the injector pulses will lengthen, as the injectors try to squirt more fuel, to prevent a lean condition due to inadequate fuel pressure.
Once the overheated pump cools, the engine is able to be restarted.

This is a pretty rare occurance, but it happened to me.

But don't overlook checking the grounds. If the pump doesn't fix it, I'm still leaning towards a defective computer
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1992 YJ, 401 V8, EFI, TH400, Atlas, D60s, Detroits, Warn 8274, Cage, 37 Krawlers
1997 TJ, 350 V8, EFI, TH400, Atlas 4spd, D60s, Detroits, Warn 12000, Cage, 40 Kevlars
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:39 AM   #10
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I think we have it fixed!!!! The dealer found a bad power wire going to the computer that would only breakdown during heat. They fixed that and knock on wood we are back up and running well. Thanks for everyone's input. $1300 later I think it is fixed, along with a bunch of new stuff that may or may not have been necessary.

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