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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
January brings with it battery weirdness. I've been struggling with several JK issues which I have discovered answers for. If you've ever turned your ignition key and heard nothing more than a click, let me share what I found.

The Chrysler OEM battery lasts about a year. Standard disclaimer: I'm sure your battery lasted longer. Mine dropped from 12v to 6v overnight and required me to swap it out. I've read others have issues with the OEM battery as well.

The Wrangler battery terminals are junk. Standard disclaimer: I'm sure your battery terminals work fine. My problems started when I removed the terminals during maintenance. One month later I had a dead battery. Last January with a new, recently installed battery I turned the key and the Jeep went totally dark. The shop wiggled the cable and it started right up. The issue is the design. You cannot properly tighten the OEM battery terminals. Even after a mechanic better qualified than myself tightened it, he was still able to pop it off with a simple yank using no tools. I swapped them all out and am much happier.

The replacement battery terminals are a time-tested design where the bolt tightens from the side, not from the top. I can only guess Jeep changed the design of their terminals to make it faster to install batteries on the production line. As the outside temperature rises and falls, the terminals loosen and build up resistance between itself and the post. This causes a voltage drop so the battery is starved for voltage when charging and the starter sees less voltage when cranking. When the voltage drops across the terminal to below 11v the computer gives up.

The alarm system, armed by the electronic locks, is useless and draws additional power for no good reason. Standard disclaimer applies. I've taken the advice of others on the forum who lock it manually. I also unplugged the rear hatch lock so it must be operated by key only.

Swapping the battery and terminals, and locking the Jeep manually without the "noise maker" alarm system got me 90% of the way there. There's another huge current draw - the computer(s).

"Normal" current draw while sitting in the parking lot hovers around 80ma. This doesn't sound like a huge number but during the math on an 80Ah battery is 1000 hours of stand-by power, or about 4 weeks on a fully charged battery. Most batteries won't be at 100%, so it isn't surprising that people are finding dead batteries after a week or two. They don't have to be totally drained, just low enough to drop below 11v while cranking.

I've resorted to tossing a 450ma solar panel on the dash to trickle charge the battery while it's parked. I'm not sure it's doing anything but it makes me feel better.

That leaves what all mechanics tell me, "You're not driving the Jeep enough to keep it charged." I know people have heard this from their dealer. I've searched to find the magic number is about 10km necessary to drive to top off the energy needed to bring the battery back after cranking. I'm just around that number during my daily commute.

So, I still find it necessary to throw the battery on the charger once or twice a year. It doesn't sound like a lot of maintenance but I've never had to do this with my 1997 Pathfinder. I've heard, "The alternator won't recharge a depleted battery." So, Why not?

Is there any way to increase the charging current to the battery so that I do not have to charge the battery manually? Or, am I stuck with driving a vehicle which requires recharging once or twice a year?

How often are others putting their batteries on a charger? If you drive more than 20km/day you probably "drive enough to keep the battery charged." I'm asking this of those who drive infrequently or less than 20km/day.
 

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The Wrangler battery terminals are junk. Standard disclaimer: I'm sure your battery terminals work fine. My problems started when I removed the terminals during maintenance. One month later I had a dead battery. Last January with a new, recently installed battery I turned the key and the Jeep went totally dark. The shop wiggled the cable and it started right up. The issue is the design. You cannot properly tighten the OEM battery terminals. Even after a mechanic better qualified than myself tightened it, he was still able to pop it off with a simple yank using no tools. I swapped them all out and am much happier.

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I see 2 major problems with your image above.

1 - a cable eye on the battery post clamp fastening bolt will not allow said bolt to clamp on the battery post tightly/properly. You can clearly see the washer under the cable eye is bent up.

2 - the actual battery cable attachment bolt has NO fastening nut to hold the cable tight.


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Is this an actual picture of what the mechanic was working with? Did he miss these points?


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I'm not going to say the factory battery terminals are anything great. But, one never should put anything in between the bolt with built-in spherical washer (red arrow in post #2). It is that spherical surface against the mating part that does the clamping. I've been running the factory terminals for 5 1/2 years and never had a problem. There is no way you can pull those things off by hand.

My Jeep is not a DD and I have some aftermarket electronics which draw enough current where I always have the battery on a appropriately rated (25A or greater) charger. I have the charger permanently mounted under a DIY platform that takes the place of the rear bench seat (deleted). The cables run up inside the Jeep through the firewall into the battery.
 
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I'm not going to say the factory battery terminals are anything great. But, one never should put anything in between the bolt with built-in spherical washer (red arrow in post #2). It is that spherical surface against the mating part that does the clamping. I've been running the factory terminals for 5 1/2 years and never had a problem. There is no way you can pull those things off by hand.

My Jeep is not a DD and I have some aftermarket electronics which draw enough current where I always have the battery on a appropriately rated (25A or greater) charger. I have the charger permanently mounted under a DIY platform that takes the place of the rear bench seat (deleted). The cables run up inside the Jeep through the firewall into the battery.
I'm confused, you have the charger inside your Jeep? How does the charger get power?
 

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I'm confused, you have the charger inside your Jeep? How does the charger get power?

It’s inside under what once was the rear seat. The charger is a fairly large marine battery charger and I didn’t like any mounting options under the hood. My long term plan was once to put a second battery under the other side of the rear seat area. But, for now I don’t need a 2nd battery. I always park in my garage so I hook up an extension cord through the partially rolled down rear window. One could have run the power cord through the floorboard.
 

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So, I still find it necessary to throw the battery on the charger once or twice a year. It doesn't sound like a lot of maintenance but I've never had to do this with my 1997 Pathfinder. I've heard, "The alternator won't recharge a depleted battery." So, Why not?

Is there any way to increase the charging current to the battery so that I do not have to charge the battery manually? Or, am I stuck with driving a vehicle which requires recharging once or twice a year?

In the last 10-15 years they've reduced power output for reasons of fuel economy. Get an AGM battery, because they're more resilient, and put it on a charger monthly for conditioning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank-you for all who responded.

The missing nut was removed to service the connector and I snapped the photo too lazy to replace the nut and re-take the photo. These battery terminals are resting quietly at the bottom of a landfill after a mechanic was able to jerk one off the battery post without first loosening it with tools... and was only one factor to my Wrangler battery problems. The factory terminals are junk, replaced with marine quality terminals.

It seems that every Winter I have to charge the battery monthly to keep it running even after eliminating all the issues in my original post. Back to the mechanic once again, armed with a recall for 2017 voltage regulator chip in the PCM (mine is a 2016). It affects about 12% of you lucky people who own a 2017 yet isn't exactly my problem either.

Back 2 years ago I replaced the crummy factory radio with a nicer one which required the addition of a CANBUS module to keep the computer from turning on the check engine light because of a fault with the factory radio (which is also at the bottom of a landfill). Since the idiot light never came on I figured it was working properly... in spite of some computer codes complaining about the radio. Complain all you like if you do it quietly.

ah... but it seems that a cranky CANBUS module required to pacify the computer to install a non-Chrysler radio kept waking up the computer in the middle of the night to report a problem. The computer kept waking up, drawing lots of current, then returning to sleep intermittently. so, it wasn't the radio or amplifier which was drawing current - it's the computer being woken up by the defective module attached to the radio. The mechanic confirmed this with a few phone calls to others who say, Oh yea, they fail all the time. Lovely.

Replacement parts are on order and he will re-re-install the aftermarket radio with the CANBUS modules for both the radio and amplifier.

I don't mind throwing the battery on a charger once a year but once a month was really irritating.

The ability to swap out the radio, amplifier, alarm system, or headlights needs be simplified by Chrysler/Jeep so I can service my vehicle without permission from the computer.

I hope someone finds this information useful.
 
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