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tersian 07-20-2009 09:57 PM

Another Starting Problem
I just bought a 97 TJ with 150,000 and when I try to start the car, the first time you turn the key the starter motor works but the engine will not start. The second time you turn the key the jeep starts right up. Any suggestions for getting a more reliable start?

The battery has a good charge on it but is corroded.
The starter and alternator are new (or so the guy who sold it to me says).

Will old spark plugs or distributor effect this issue?

I downloaded the FSM from this forum but could not find this problem in there.

Ohh yeah, I also need a new driver seat (gray) and a good repair tip for a broken zipper on the driver side upper window skin.

I love the jeep though best money I've ever spent.

mlt503 07-21-2009 02:18 AM

Starter not engaging
Without seeing and hearing it work, it sounds to me like your starter is not engaging the flywheel. There's a small gear inside the starter that, when energized, begins spinning and pushes forward (1/2"-1") and connects with the teeth on the flywheel (which is hard-mounted to the crankshaft).
When the engine starts and you let off the key, that small gear retracts.
I just bought a '97 TJ also and have schematics in PDF form. They are for a '99 but have helped me a lot.
Email me at: if you need them.
Good luck,
Mark :cool:

tersian 07-21-2009 08:50 AM

Starting issue
Thanks mlt

The engine is definetly cranking but will not start on the first attempt.

I am not hearing the high pitched whirling sound associated the starter motor not enaging.

I could be wrong though how would I check to see if the flywheel is engaged?

meyers 07-21-2009 09:05 AM

If the engine is turning but not starting it could be a bunch of things, any check engine lights coming on? You may take it to your local parts store or mechanic that does code checks and see if any codes are in the computer, that may give you a better starting point.

tersian 07-21-2009 10:01 AM

Check engine lights
Nope, no check engine lights. I have a code reader that I bought from Autozone.

So I'll plug it in tonight and see what happens.


rrich 07-21-2009 10:21 AM

I'll bet if you go to start it soon after it was running it'll start fine.

The next time you know it will take 2 tries to get it started - try this:
Turn the key to ON, but do not crank it.
Wait 10 seconds.
Turn it to OFF.
Turn it to ON again, but DON'T CRANK IT.
Off again.
Now start it up - it should start easy.

That's simply cycling the key on and off twice before cranking.

What that does is let the fuel pump run a moment - twice - getting fuel up to the engine, then starting fine.

That shows the fuel is draining out of the fuel lines while sitting. Drainback valve on the pump in the tank or an external fuel leak.

Let us know.


RedneckJeep 07-21-2009 11:40 AM

I recently had a issue with my 98 Wrangler stop turning over all together. it was fine on a friday and when I went to go to work on monday it would not start. I was having issues with it turning over and not catching then starting up, Turns out for me it was the Crankshaft Position Sensor. Once I replaced that it fired right up, no problems. I got one at Autozone for $37. Might check into that. its a quick easy fix if that is the problem.

tersian 07-21-2009 10:14 PM

Found the Problem?
I tried RRich's suggestions of the two key turns then start. Started up fine.

Now that I know what I'm listening for when I turn the key I can hear the fuel pump working.

Looked and smelled around cannot find leak so some valve must be broken.
I'm on page 765 in the FSM and looking for the valve that needs replacing.

Do you think this could be a fuel filter, fuel regulator (pg766) problem then?

tlrrob1000 07-21-2009 10:36 PM

Did you hear thefuel pump each time you turned the key? If yes then your fuel is bleeding back to the tank. There should be a one way check valve. Not sure on yours but it very well maybe in your fuel pump which I do believe is in the tank and is a whole assembly with screen, pump and sending unit.
Good luck

4Jeepn 07-21-2009 10:42 PM


Originally Posted by tersian (Post 404858)

The battery has a good charge on it but is corroded.


Clean it with a mix of baking soda and water, then wire brush the posts, with the cables off of course.

Levinoss 07-21-2009 10:48 PM

Wouldn't hurt to change the pump after 150k miles on the factory pump. I just changed mine when it rolled over 100k and the poor filter was TINY and horribly dirty. It still takes a short period to crank but it sure feels like it has more fuel going to the engine like night and day. Mine ran around $300ish for the whole show just make sure when you drop the tank make sure it's on a warm day or you may have trouble getting the plastic lock nut back on the tank. I would go ahead and change the check valve while you are working on it all.

tersian 07-22-2009 05:59 PM

I think I've narrowed the problem
1 Attachment(s)
I have definitely heard the fuel pump working so it seems to be doing ok and there is only one thing in-between the fuel injectors and the fuel pump.

The fuel filter/ pressure regulator. Can someone confirm that there is a check valve in this assembly.

The problem is this thing is going to cost me 70 bucks at Morris 4X4.
Does anyone know where I could look to find a new one cheaper? I've attached a picture of the filter/regulator.

Attachment 9908

georgep 07-22-2009 10:21 PM

1997 TJ same problem, I knew the symptoms from another car. I am just going to go around and check all the hose connections before I spend any $$$. On the other car it was a tiny split at the hose connection point of the fuel rail. So before spending take a screw driver to all the lines.

rrich 07-22-2009 11:30 PM

The check valve is in the tank. You have to drop the tank and remove the entire pump, sender, and check valve. It's a pain!
You can buy the entire module or individual parts. I suggest the entire module - $250 or so.
Do yourself a favor - mark the floor - cut out an access hole so you can do it from the top next time. Cover the hole with a small plate, screw it on.

Or -- the cheat method. Go to a good parts house, not Autochina or such, have them look up a fuel check valve - mount it in the fuel line next to the tank. Make sure it's for fuel, not vacuum.

350chevrolet 07-22-2009 11:56 PM


Originally Posted by rrich (Post 406312)
Do yourself a favor - mark the floor - cut out an access hole so you can do it from the top next time. Cover the hole with a small plate, screw it on.

Or -- the cheat method. Go to a good parts house, not Autochina or such, have them look up a fuel check valve - mount it in the fuel line next to the tank. Make sure it's for fuel, not vacuum.

i like both of those ideas. i cut a hole in my grand cherokee when the pump died. the tank on a wrangler is fairly simple to drop, 7 1/2" nuts, 4 #2 philips screws and 2 fuel lines (2 more 1/2" nuts to get the tank out of the skid plate but you wont have to do that). i use a strap wrench to remove the lock ring holding the pump in the tank, i'm sure jeep makes a special tool but the strap wrench works on any car with this design so that's what i use.

i think that even installing an in line check valve would require dropping the tank because the only rubber hose on the pressure side that i know of is between the pump and the quick release fitting. there might be a rubber hose up by the fuel rail, actually there should be one, but i haven't had the chance to play with that one yet so i'm not sure where it comes in.

tlrrob1000 07-23-2009 03:18 AM

Not a bad idea anyway to check hoses and lines but you are going to have to drop the tank and change the fuel pump assembly.:doh:

rrich 07-23-2009 05:45 AM

A small tubing cutter cuts the steel line. Then the check valve goes on with rubber lines - as close to the tank as possible. Double clamp those lines.

It won't do much good if the valve's up front. You want the entire column of fuel to stay put.

BlackJeepoftheFamily 07-26-2009 02:38 PM

I had the same problem with my 99 Sahara two years ago. Mechanic wanted to charge me $400-600 to replace the pump. Turned out to be just the fuel pressure regulator that sits on top of the fuel pump. I got a Haynes Wrangler manual and dropped the tank and replaced the pressure regulator for $118 part and a few hours of my time. I'd never dropped a tank before but I just followed the book instructions--no too hard. That was two years ago and everything is still fine.

tersian 07-27-2009 09:37 PM

Man Oh Man

So I call up Mopar to see if they have a replacement fuel pump, fuel filter/pressure regulator. They said that the Chrysler corporation has stopped making and no longer has those parts.

I also went to the auto store. NAPA is the closest one to my house but I also hit up Pep boyz. I was trying to find a check valve that I could install in line with my current equipment. The guy literally stood there with his jaw dropped staring at me shaking his head saying "I don't know where you would even get such a part"

So now I'm using the time tested turn, turn, start method that is working pretty well. But I would really like to fix this issue.

Any Ideas?:confused:

The good news is that I bought some used bumpers from craigslist for $30. They were a little rusty but I hit them with the wire wheel on my angler grinder, primed and painted them. They look great now.

mlt503 07-28-2009 02:08 AM

Parts online
I've found pretty reasonable prices on:
Looks like a fuel pump for a '97 TJ is going for $88.00.
Might be worth a look.
Good Luck bud,

Broncodriver 08-04-2009 11:55 PM

Ever get this problem taken care of? I just got done replacing mine. found it brand new on e-bay

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