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Old 06-07-2010, 01:35 PM   #1
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Random Start Prob, I know it's something simple!

Greetings Forum! First Time poster here. I finally bought the Jeep I’ve always wanted and absolutely LOVE IT! I’ll have it forever. Thanks for reading my post. Any help would be greatly appreciated! I just spent the last hour or so doing searches and found some close ones, but nothing pretty close to what I’m experiencing.

Here goes:
I bought my 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, 4.0, 5-Speed about two months ago in April 2010. It runs great and has been really well maintained by the previous owner. The other day I was out running errands, stopped by the post office in the evening, ran back out to my Jeep, and instead of starting right up like it’s always done, was a really loud and rapid clicking noise coming from under the hood. All the dash lights came on as normal, and when I removed the key, the interior dome lights came on as normal. Then I turned on the headlights and they were really bright. I looked around under the hood, the starter is brand spanking new. The batteries (two car batteries under the hood) also new both had completely full charges and all the terminals squeaky clean. I spent a few minutes looking around, then gave it a try again, and boom – it started right up as if nothing. I drove it directly home. Got home, park it in the garage, turned it off, then it fired right up. I tried this several times and every time it fired right up as normal. The problem seemingly went away for a few weeks. It did it again one morning at home loud rapid clicking noise - then about 20 minutes later, fired right up. I’m sorry that there’s no rhyme or reason or logic behind this problem – seemingly, it’s totally random. I did notice that when this problem has happened, the Trip Odometer resets to zero. Not sure what that could mean. I've owned the Jeep for about two months and the problem has happened about 7 times, and i drive it everywhere daily. Oh, one more thing. The other day, I left the headlights on for about 30 mins while at my girlfriends house, I came out, noticed this, turned them off, and that same problem happened, then, a couple minutes later, it fired right up. Thanks again, and any information will be greatly appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification about something, I was trying to be as descriptive as possible.


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Old 06-07-2010, 01:41 PM   #2
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well if the meter tripped back to zero then it sounds like the computer reset itself. I'd check the battery and the terminals...possibly trace out the cables and check for nics or breask. Not sure what would cause the clicking/boom noise though.

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Old 06-07-2010, 01:47 PM   #3
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Sorry, there was no "BOOM" noise, that was the noise I made when it started up. Kind of like when someone asks to borrow a pen, the "boom" you say as you hand it to them.
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Old 06-07-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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Remove both battery cable connectors. Then, using a set of wire battery brushes (male and female brushes), clean the battery posts & connectors and then firmly reattach the connectors. Such problems are often (usually?) nothing more than a dirty/corroded/loose battery connection.

And once you retighten the battery connector bolts, test both connectors for tightness by seeing if you can move them at all by hand. The connectors can wear enough that you can't get the bolt tight enough to hold it tightly enough to the battery post. If that's the case, PM me or post up in this thread again as I have a way to fix the connector to make it tight again without the need to replace it.
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Old 06-07-2010, 01:51 PM   #5
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I had the EXACT same ghost in my jeep, turned out to be the + battery cable was loose on the starter side. Couple turns of the wrench and its been great ever since...

I reached under there to run new wires for my trail lights, when my arm rubbed the + battery cable, it moved... AH HA! GOTCHA!
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Old 06-07-2010, 02:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevenservices View Post
I had the EXACT same ghost in my jeep, turned out to be the + battery cable was loose on the starter side. Couple turns of the wrench and its been great ever since...

I reached under there to run new wires for my trail lights, when my arm rubbed the + battery cable, it moved... AH HA! GOTCHA!
the starter is brand spanking new


X2 on the wire attached to the starter.

Why two batteries?
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Old 06-07-2010, 05:59 PM   #7
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x3 on the starter wire :-)
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:50 AM   #8
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Thanks Guys, I really appreciate it! As “sevenservices” put it, the “ghost” is in there lurking, waiting to strike. Thanks to you guys, I’ll bust it – as in Ghostbusters. I’ll get right to work tomorrow. Just to make sure, when you say, the “+ battery cable was lose on the starter side” you’re referring to where the red cable (see photo) connects to the starter correct?



Why two batteries? The previous owner was really meticulous and had the second battery installed to power the refrigerator that connected to additional power outlets installed behind the passenger seat. Not only the fridge, but the compressor, the winch, the fog lights all power off the second battery.



Additionally, he installed two led lights (see photo) in front of the gear shift which constantly monitor the power of both batteries (green-fully charged, yellow 90-80%, red…etc.) The switch in the middle is the isolator switch which either combines to the two batteries or allows you to drain the backup without affecting the main. It’s a pretty sweet setup, I feel so blessed! and As mentioned, I LOVE THIS JEEP!



Again, THANKS for all your help. I'll surely let you all know if the problem comes back, you can count on that! ha ha
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tucson_Desert_Ninja View Post
Just to make sure, when you say, the “+ battery cable was lose on the starter side” you’re referring to where the red cable (see photo) connects to the starter correct?

Yes Sir.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:01 AM   #10
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Just because the starter is "new" doesn't mean it's good.

The loud clicking is the starter solenoid - it's trying to engage, but once it moves there's insufficient power to hold it in. Then it tries again. Usually due to low battery, cables, or connections.

First check the connection by the starter - where the (+) battery cable attaches and any other wires. When someone replaced it, they may have left one loose.
Also check negative side - at the battery and where it attaches to the block.

The starter may be one from AutoChina or another trash discount house. They are good for only a year or so - but you get a lifetime warranty - so you can change the starter once a year for the rest of your life!
Or you could pay a little more and get one that will last.

Phone book - alternator starter rebulders. There are many specialty shops that rebuild them themselves. You'll usually get a better starter cheaper than what Autochina has.

(Last time I took apart a "rebuilt" starter fresh out of the box from Autozone it was obvious it wasn't rebuilt at all. It just had new brushes and had been cleaned. The armature was burned badly but it hadn't been touched. Junk!)

Question - lately I had a customer that had a bad Autochina starter - it was his 2nd one. The first one only worked a month or so, now the 2nd one did the same. When he took it back in for the "lifetime" warranty, they told him the 3rd one was all he'd get. Lifetime to them means 3 times?
I'd like to verify that - anyone?
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:37 AM   #11
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Thanks for the info RRich - However, what about the fact that it works really well, except for those 7 times that it's done this problem? Also, I talked to the previous owner of my Jeep and he told me that this exact problem is why he bought the new starter, therefore, two different starters-same problem, implies to me it's not the starter....What do you think? THANKS
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:41 AM   #12
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But just as often, if not more often, a clicking starter solenoid is indicating it isn't getting enough voltage (amperage in reality) for it to fully engage. That is why I suggested cleaning, checking, and tightening your battery connections.
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Old 06-08-2010, 01:51 PM   #13
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If the 2nd starter is doing the exact same thing, then odds are it's not the starter - unless it's from AutoChina or equiv.

But, like Jerry said - twice! Clean the connections again!

It's not getting enough power to the solenoid. The starter needs close to 200 amps to operate. For some reason it's not getting it.

Even though it's only done it intermittently, it's still a connection problem.
Clean as suggested!

Sometimes cables go bad internally - rare, but possible.
Maybe try something - disable the ignition so it won't start.
Crank it for a minute or so.
Then feel all along the cables and connections - both cables - looking for a warm spot. If the cable has developed high resistance somewhere that part will get hot. It's rare, but sometimes they will corrode inside the insulation.
Feel the crimped on lugs on the cables too.

Since the solenoid is clicking - I assume it was replaced with the starter? - it's doubtfull its an ignition switch problem.

CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:13 PM   #14
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Could this second battery system, the way it is wired, be causing some problem? Does one or both batteries run the starter? Are both rated correctly?

Is the battery (batteries?) any good?


Just because the light is "green" doesn't mean anything.

It's just another possibility I'm throwing on there.
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:20 PM   #15
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Not for nothing - but I had a cable in my old (my 64 Impala rag top) go bad... looked GREAT from the outside, but it wouldn't allow enough voltage to cross to turn over the 327. Took me a starter, solenoid, battery, and alternator before I changed it... Worth a look-see...
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:48 PM   #16
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right on for the red cable on the starter, mine was loose there from muddin'

Looks like yours has a REALLY tight bend in it right after the connector??? If it is, replace and re-route the cable without the tight pulled angle like it looks from the photo. It will totally heat up and the copper in the bend will turn green and only work when it wants to. As well, the vibration in the engine will eventually cut off the wire inside the insulation. Like bending a coat hanger back and forth until it breaks.
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Could this second battery system, the way it is wired, be causing some problem? Does one or both batteries run the starter? Are both rated correctly?

Is the battery (batteries?) any good?


Just because the light is "green" doesn't mean anything.

It's just another possibility I'm throwing on there.
I have to agree with all these possibilities above. How many amps does this refrigerator draw? If batteries are weak, connections not clean, or some bad wires, all kinds of strange things can happen. Perhaps you may want to disconnect the refrigerator and see if it does it then. Just some more thoughts for you to ponder. Good luck.
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:26 PM   #18
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Great input guys, today after work (ha ha, I'm blogging on the clock!) I'm going to clean, scrub, rewire, tighten, clean some more. Just hoping it's not the actual starter. A friend suggested the starter relay, have we ruled that out as the culprit? THANKS - GO CELTS!

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