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-   -   Hi all... and I need an electrical wizard (http://www.wranglerforum.com/f210/hi-all-and-i-need-an-electrical-wizard-32714.html)

Mike Phifer 06-30-2009 05:42 PM

Hi all... and I need an electrical wizard
 
I believe I followed poor WF etiquette by not posting a NM check-in when I joined. So - Hi everybody. This site has been a huge help recently. Now down to my issue. I recently changed the clutch in my '97 TJ. Since then I have been having troubles getting it started. Everything was fine for the first day, but since then it only occasionally starts. Usually I get nothing - no crank from the starter, not even a click. In another thread on the TJ forum, Jerry Bransford had suggested the nuetral safety switch since I had tried to by-pass it by clipping off the plug and connecting the wires since the #20 fuse trick doesn't work on a '97. AFTER I had gone and done that I actually looked in the manual (oops) and saw that there was a by-pass plug. Anyway I had spliced the plug back on moments after I had cut it and since Jerry's suggestion to check that splice I have re-checked it twice to make sure that the connection is sound. I have cleaned all of the connections, battery terminals, grounds...everything I can see to clean. The battery has got juice. I had the starter checked at two different places today and it passed tests at both. Jumped the starter this afternoon by connecting the studs on the solenoid with a piece of fourteen gauge wire and that worked fine, but it is not something I would like to do too often. It seems to start up fine when I try it right after it has been running, but if it sits a while it usually doesn't crank - although the other day it started after having sat for about 24 hours. It seems to me that it has got to be a wire or connection somewhere, but I am not sure where to check now. The wire from the ignition switch? Is there any way to by-pass my by-pass of the neutral safety switch to see if that splice is the problem? Or should I just run two wires from the studs on the solenoid into the cab, hook up a switch, and call it fixed? Any help or idea would be greatly appreciated at this point. This electrical stuff has got me frazzled.

crasha9 06-30-2009 08:45 PM

Can't help about the problem but don't worry about not "posting right" just as long as you get your question answered.

Jerry Bransford 06-30-2009 09:24 PM

I would use a test light to troubleshoot this. Use it to verify if your starter motor is getting +12 volts when the ignition key is turned to the Start position. If it is, i.e. the test light illuminates when your helper turns the key to the Start position but the starter motor doesn't spin, I'd have to assume you have a bad starter. If the test light never lights up, it's either a bad ignition switch or a bad spot in the wiring. Make sure the connector at the starter is plugged in securely. I'd probably unplug/plug it back in a few times just to make sure the connector is making a good solid electrical connection. One more thing to check... the starter relay at the very front position inside your power distribution center on the passenger-side fender well in the engine compartment. It should give a faint 'click' when the key is turned to the Start position. :)

N39-W120 06-30-2009 09:28 PM

I thought the neutral safety switch was on automatics? I have been wrong before, of so the wife says.... have you checked the clutch safety switch? I believe it is tied to the upper part of the pedal assembly.... the more experienced can chime in on to it's actual location

Mike Phifer 06-30-2009 10:37 PM

Nah - I suspect you are right and I have referred to it incorrectly. The clutch safety switch then is what I have by-passed (or attempted to). And it is a cylinder that clips around the clutch pedal pushrod. Anyway it stopped working correctly when my clutch problems began and I never did get it hooked up to work right. It should have completed a circuit when the clutch pedal compressed the spring inside it, but for the couple hours that the Jeep was starting alright I actually had to pull that cylinder out along the pushrod for it to start. (That still doesn't make any sense - either way the spring inside it was getting compressed.) Since doing that was such a pain I was a little too gung-ho to unhook it and try a gerry-rigged by-pass. At the time it seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to unhook it and cut the plug off of the wires coming down from the dash and connect them together to complete that circuit permanantly.

Thanks for the further advice Jerry. I'll start checking that out tomorrow and see where I can get. Might just have to go and check that relay right now. Apparently in some of the newer models there are a couple relays in there that are interchangeable. My starter relay, of course, is the only one of its size in the distribution box. He's lonely in there. :(

IdahoJeepin 07-01-2009 07:37 PM

One other possibility, is there a ground strap that you disconnected from a bellhousing bolt or something during disassembly? If you have a loose/disconnected ground strap it will act like that, intermittent starting, no starts..etc..it may be a braided bare ground strap or insulated wire, but they are usually a pretty good sized wire.

I'm sure these gurus of all things Jeep can clarify where the ground strap would be at on a Wrangler, I'm new to Wranglers and my 304 CJ5 wouldn't apply here at all.
Also, what about a wire to the starter being loose or melted/shorted against exhaust or pinched? Where you replaced a clutch I would scour the area around the bellhousing looking for anything unusual/disconnected/pinched.

Good luck,

Scot

Jerry Bransford 07-01-2009 07:50 PM

Has any other wiring been messed with? As IdahoJeepin asks, are all your engine ground wires and ground straps connected? There are two ground wires alone on the front bolt that holds the ignition coil to the block, so be looking for a loose ground wire or ground strap that someone forgot to hook up.

And one more thing... if you tried to start the engine with the main ground straps disconnected, that can blow small ground connections as the starter "scavenges" for a return high current ground connection between the starter and chassis.

Mike Phifer 07-04-2009 10:06 AM

Ok - further updates and another question or two. Sorry that these posts are long (this one probably will be too) - I am just trying to explain things as thoroughly as possible so that everybody can get a good idea of what I'm up to and maybe notice something that I am overlooking. The easiest stuff first. I listened to the relay in the distribution box and it does make an audible click when the ignition switch is turned to the start position. That means that the relay is still good, correct? No way that it would make that click and not be working? I cannot see any wires or straps that are not connected. There was no ground strap or wire on the bellhousing that we disconnected. As far as I am aware it is grounded just by being in direct contact with the engine. As IdahoJeepin suggested, however, while I was down there I checked everything around the bellhousing and no wires or connections of any sort are loose, disconnected, burnt or in any way damaged. Other than the neg. battery cable and the wires to the sensors on the transmission and bellhousing, no other wires were disconnected during the clutch replacement. If I am thinking of the same ground bolt on the engine that Jerry is referring to, I did disconnect, clean and reconnect that a few days ago. I got after it with a test light yesterday afternoon. On the starter there is a smaller cylinder, unless I am mistaken this is the solenoid - correct me if I am wrong. There are two connections to the solenoid, one a direct lead from the battery and another coming from the distribution box that I assume is the ignition wire. There is then another wire that goes from the solenoid into the starter. The whole thing is grounded by virtue of the physical contact when bolted in. (All of the terminals and wires here are clean - I scrubbed them down twice.) I tested the terminal on the solenoid where the wire from the battery attaches and I am getting juice there. I am not getting any juice to the terminal where the ignition wire from the distr. box hooks up even when the ignition is switched to the start position (which I think is the only time I should be getting juice there). When I have one end of the test light hooked up to that post and touch the other end to the posistive terminal on the battery the light does come on. Not sure if that is even important. I put the probe into the ignition wire just where it leaves the distr. box to go down to the starter and touched the other end to the pos. battery terminal and the light lit up. I take this to mean that the wire itself is in working order. The situation therefore seems to me to be that there is something preventing the current from leaving the distr. box down the ignition wire to the starter. I am back to thinking that it must be my by-pass job on the clutch safety switch. Does that seem reasonable? Anybody know at exactly what point the clutch safety switch would interrupt the circuit and if there is a way to by-pass that switch even more thoroughly to check? Also - this is my dd and I am a little concerned about doing any lasting damage. I haven't had to drive much, but when I do I am either pop-starting it or jumping the starter. Not real thrilled with pop-starting it since I just replaced the clutch and I would rather not put any unnecessary wear on that new plate. Can I do any serious damage to anything other than the starter itself by jumping the starter? I am not exactly sure how it works, but my guess is that there is an internal switch there and when the ignition terminal gets juice it closes that switch and allows the juice to flow in through the wire from the battery. It doesn't seem like jumping the starter would do anything other than what should be going on inside. I have been thinking that, for a temporary fix at least, I could just run a wire from each of the terminals on the solenoid into the cab and hook them up to a switch. That would at least save me from having to crawl underneath. That's all I've got now. Any further suggestions/thoughts/warnings are more than welcome. Damn electricity, can't see it to fix it.

Jerry Bransford 07-04-2009 11:35 AM

I'd dismount the PDC the starter relay is mounted inside and use your test light on the bottom of it so you can get to the wiring connections while the relay is operating. That the relay is clicking is good but doesn't necessarily mean the contacts inside that connect the power to the starter solenoid are good. I'll also try to verify this later today in my factory service manual but I'm going to assume that because the starter relay clicks when you turn the ignition key to the start position means the bypass connection you spliced is probably ok.

There is likely both light gauge and heavier gauge wiring running to the relay connections on the bottom. Since the relay is clicking, the light gauge wiring is good. There are probably two heavier gauge wires leading to the relay with one likely having a constant 12 volts on it which is what the relay connects to the starter solenoid internally with that 12 volts leaving the relay and going to the starter solenoid when the relay is energized.

I'd use the test light to see if you have 12 volts entering the relay on the heavier gauge supply side wire and then leaving the relay via the second heavier wire (which goes to the starter solenoid) when the key is turned to the start position.

Finally, connecting the test light across the two heavier gauge connections (which is across the relay's internal heavy-duty on-off contacts) when the ignition switch is on but NOT in the start position should illuminate the test light. Then the light should shut off when you turn the ignition key to the start position which indicates the relay's contacts inside are making a connection. Again, the test light would be connected across the relay's two heavier gauge wiring connections for this test. Test light is ON when the key is On but not in the Start position. Test light OFF if the relay is working properly when the ignition switch is turned to the Start position.

By the way, inserting a few line breaks here and there makes things a lot easier to read. ;)

Mike Phifer 07-04-2009 12:17 PM

Sorry about not inserting line breaks - I guess that would make things a whole lot easier to read. Thanks for the :bottom: - :D

So, following your advice (again), I pulled off the distr. box. No helper at the moment but I figured I could rig it enough to check anyway. Power going from the ignition fuse to the relay. Figured I'd try the wire from the "out" side of the relay to the starter first. Hooked the aligator clip up to the neg. battery terminal and shoved the point into the connection underneath the relay.

Wait for it...

She started right up. Took off the test light and tried a couple more times. No troubles. Put back the distr. box, closed the hood and gave it a couple more starts. Everything seems fine. I guess maybe that wire got tugged on a little bit when the starter was coming off and going on and lossened the connection. I'll have to get back in there and make sure it is good and secure, but I guess that is what the problem was.

Hopefully that's it. I'll have to see what happens over the next couple days, I guess - but it seems like I'm good to go. Thanks a lot for all of the help and advice. I would never have even begun to think to look at that. :doh: I really appreciate it.

dosco 04-27-2010 12:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike Phifer (Post 396839)
Sorry about not inserting line breaks - I guess that would make things a whole lot easier to read. Thanks for the :bottom: - :D

So, following your advice (again), I pulled off the distr. box. No helper at the moment but I figured I could rig it enough to check anyway. Power going from the ignition fuse to the relay. Figured I'd try the wire from the "out" side of the relay to the starter first. Hooked the aligator clip up to the neg. battery terminal and shoved the point into the connection underneath the relay.

Wait for it...

She started right up. Took off the test light and tried a couple more times. No troubles. Put back the distr. box, closed the hood and gave it a couple more starts. Everything seems fine. I guess maybe that wire got tugged on a little bit when the starter was coming off and going on and lossened the connection. I'll have to get back in there and make sure it is good and secure, but I guess that is what the problem was.

Hopefully that's it. I'll have to see what happens over the next couple days, I guess - but it seems like I'm good to go. Thanks a lot for all of the help and advice. I would never have even begun to think to look at that. :doh: I really appreciate it.

Mike: was that the fix? I'm having a similar problem on my '97 and have replaced the starter+solenoid and the starter relay. I'm now going to take a look at bypassing the clutch safety switch.

If that doesn't fix it I guess I'll take a look at the PDC and make sure the wires are secure and have good electrical contact.

Cheers-
Dave'


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