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trau 07-28-2013 06:35 PM

First post and it's a breakdown! Overheating? Battery? Alternator? All of the above?
Hey all, of course my first post comes after a breakdown... welcome aboard, right? I've been lurking and searching a lot since picking up my 2005 Wrangler LJ automatic trans a couple weeks ago, and found a lot of useful info here, so hoping you guys can help out with this one.

There is likely a super easy explanation to all this, but I'm just learning what I can about how this thing works now, so bear with me...

Here are the details:

My wife and I went out to Otay Mountain Truck Trail near San Diego just for an easy break-in -- somewhere we could test the 4WD and have some fun but safe enough that we wouldn't need to go with a group or spot each other. It's basically a dirt road the Border Patrol drives, so no obstacles or real wheeling involved.

We had been on the trail for maybe 30-45 minutes in 4-HI without a hitch, stopping here and there to take pictures. Decided to climb a steeper off-shoot of the main trail, still no obstacles, just a good climb that I decided to put it into 4-LO for.

Made it to the top of that climb (maybe 200 yards, pretty steep) and parked. Here's where the trouble began.

- I parked while in 4-LO ... not sure if that's an issue.
- Got out to take pics and eat lunch and the radiator was gurgling like crazy. I had been watching the temp casually and it never climbed past 210 as far as I remember.
- Pop the hood and the coolant reservoir is boiling. Like a rapid, bubbling, loud boil.
- There was a dark spot on the hood insulation above the radiator, and we could see coolant had sprayed around the radiator out on to the engine, etc.
- We decide to let it cool down, but meanwhile, I went to turn the key to check the temp on the panel again and it was as if the battery had died.
- Guages were flickering, the speedometer, odometer, anything with a needle was all twitching in unison when the key was out and the door was open. When the door closed, all activity stopped.
- Turn the ignition key and one click, nothing else. The instrument panel would light up and then die.

Cussing ensued.

It's hot, we're on top of a mountain, and we didn't pack a real survival pack, just a cooler with some water, snacks and luckily some adult beverages.

So we drank a little and cooled off. Maybe 20 minutes passed from the time we killed the engine until...

I spotted a Border Patrol truck down on the main trail and flagged him down. He came up and sort of laughed at us when we told him we'd called AAA and they were on the way.

He tried to jump us to no avail, so he helped us push it back to the hill and we coasted down to the main trail and rolled into a turn-out to wait for our tow.

We sat in the turn-out for about 20 minutes, trying to give directions to the incredulous tow truck operator over the phone.

Here's another thing that I can't decide if it matters or not -- I looked down and saw my cell phone charger in the cigarette lighter and thought for some reason I should just pull that out, since we're not drawing any power anyway.

Then I told my wife who was in the driver's seat to give it one more shot.

It started.

We drove off.

No more gurgling when we got home -- I assume because we were driving at higher speeds to keep it cool.

But if it overheated, why the spray? Is it a bad cap on my radiator? Why would my battery have stopped working? The radio wouldn't even turn on. Rokee II needs to be able to handle some time on the trail without overheating, so hoping to get this fixed soon.

Thanks for any thoughts, guys.


03 sahara jeeper 07-28-2013 10:18 PM

I would replace the radiator cap. Check your battery cables for corrosion tightness etc.

Majnoon 07-28-2013 10:32 PM

Test coolant to see if its 50/50. Sounds like you have a low boiling point to have a boil over at 210. That will spray crap even with a good cap. More anti freeze in your system will raise your boiling point. As far as the electrical issue. I think it is Mexican gremlins that hid under your hood until the border patrol left.

trau 07-29-2013 12:15 AM

Damn gremlins! Thanks guys, I'll look into all that. So nobody thinks the overheating and battery failure were related, then, huh?

Majnoon 07-29-2013 12:26 AM

My theory is you did not over heat. A boil over will cause all the spray and noise. Even on a normal day if you sit by your hood for long enough you will here gurgling as the coolant cools and contracts drawing some from the overflow tank after a drive. The electrical is weird. Not sure what happened. Maybe it was hot and it wouldn't let you start it until it became cool enough to do so with no harm. Or at least thought it was. Your description of the temp gauge makes me think it wasn't that hot. Maybe the steam released from boiling over played a trick on some sensor. Maybe it really was Mexican gremlins...

R u s s 07-29-2013 02:03 AM

Not sure if you have an elec. Or mech. Cooling fan. But that could be causing your issue at low speeds (fan clutch slipping to much or electric fan not engauging or if you have no fan shroud on hot days they can make a difference.) As for the electrical if your battery is older there are a couple things they dont like extreme cold of extreme heat. Ive had issue with weak batterys that would start fine at normal temp. But not when it was hot. But the fan could play a role in the battery getting hot because its not pushing fresh air though the engine compartment.

trau 07-30-2013 12:10 AM

Well, long story short, 1 mechanic says it's fan clutch (said he heated it up then was able to stop the fan by hand), 2 mechanics say it's fine. One of the it's-fine guys (and the warranty mechanic) says it only overheated because I shut it down after riding in 4lo up a hill, and despite my insistance it was bubbling the second I got out of the vehicle, he says it was because it sat in the heat with no fan on. Basically didn't want to service it. The other it's-fine guy watched it spinning with the ignition on, then shut it down and spun the fan by hand and said that's how it's supposed to work.

Here I think I have a video of it showing that at a temp where the clutch should engage, it's clearly not engaged. Can anyone confirm based on this my fan clutch is shot? I've found conflicting "tests" for this out there, but feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how this should work after some research, and this doesn't seem to be working.

Is my fan clutch shot? - YouTube

Thanks, guys

Derp 07-30-2013 06:51 AM

To test whether or not your fan clutch needs to be replaced, simply spin your Jeep's fan by hand while the engine is cold and if it spins freely 5 rotations or more, it will need to be replaced. Alos check your thermostat. If it. Is not opening properly it can cause cooling problems. You can check it by removing it and putting it in a pot of boiling water to ensure it opens fully. Also check your radiator fins and make sure they are not bent or clogged up. Your electrical issue I wouldn't not think much of unless it happens again. Any alarm installed? Have you modified any wiring on the jeep? Any grounds? Fog lights? Stereo? Should this continue you will be forced to check all wiring with the FSM to find the problem and hope it's not a computer problem which for your sake and though highly unlikely I've seen weirder

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