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No start on The Old 96er


NAXJA Forum User
Lexington, KY
'96 Cherokee here and right now I'm dealing with a no start after a few weeks of suspicious symptoms. She's been driven a lot less over the past year and about a month ago she began starting a little slow. I've got an oversized battery in there so usually she cranks right up no problem. I started monitoring batt voltage and saw around 12.04 V with engine off and 14.10 V or so running. Right before I get the new battery I head to Advance and they run a battery/alternator test. Kid tells me my batt is bad but alternator is still good.

So I lay out the $ and install the same size 34N EverStart Maxx 800 cca from Wally's and the slow start persists. Measuring the new battery with engine off yields consistent readings of just under 12.7 V, so for the past few weeks I began charging the batt at 2A which seemed to help. A few days ago I venture out for an errand and the engine doesn't restart to get me back home. I get no clicks or cranking at all with a key turn. Batt measures 12.67 V at the terminals. Dash gauges seem to react with the key on, voltmeter reading ~11.5 V, although I'm not sure how accurate that is. Fuel pump pressurizes.

Something that happened right after battery change out, which may or may not help in diagnosing the problem, is that my pass side headlight only illuminated half way while the driver side stayed full bright. I have an LMC Truck aftermarket headlight wiring harness giving 55/100w low high beam. It's the kind where you run the lights straight off the battery through additional relays. Had to tinker with the light harness a bit to get the new batt in and may have compromised a connection? Maybe a ground? Either way the pass headlight started showing full bright after only 1 or 2 occurrences and has been right ever since. With my alternator testing good and a new battery I wondered if maybe a loose connection was draining my voltage. I was in the middle of testing batt V connected vs. disconnected over time but this no start happened before I could get it done.

Last thing to mention is that recently I've been removing both my fuel pump and starter relays for security reasons. The way it's acting now is exactly like when trying to start with both relays removed. Being that the fuel pump is pressurizing should I consider testing the starter relay? Other than that could I have caused some kind of part failure by removing and reinstalling the relays maybe around 5-6 times over the last month?

All ears
Lots of stuff to assimilate here, but the first thing I'd
check is the battery cables/connections.

Check the positive cable connection to the starter,
and then the negative ground to the block. On a 96
I think it's near the coil.

If no joy, then more brainpower is required...
I'm guessing the main malfunction is no crank or the starter turns over really slow. My first thought is poor ground down near the bottom of the dipstick tube. A quick check is to do an ohm test from the battery negative to a clean spot on the block
Is the starter covered in oil from a leaky oil filter adaptor? If the brushes inside the starter are covered in oil it will function sporadically. Oil eventually finds it's way inside the stater. A leaky main seal can also cause the same issue, as can a mud hole.
Even a dry starter can have issues with worn-out brushes. Try tapping the side of the starter with a hammer, not too hard you just want to jar the brushes not damage the starter.
So the engine is cranking like normal its just not starting ?
Thanks for the advice guys and sorry for the novel up there. I'll start by checking batt ground to engine and all connections between batt and starter. If those check out I'll test the starter by bridging directly from pos batter terminal.

jeep ride, again sorry for TMI. I'm getting no crank at all.
TMI better than NEI...lol
I too have a 96, and it has a junction block
that can split the starter from other electrics
such as your dash gauges, lights, etc.

That's why I suspect possibly a poor connection
at the starter...?

FWIW, my 96's starter was dragging with only
~65K miles on it. So maybe the starters weren't
too good from the factory, or maybe the oil bath
they take with filter changes does them in...
Yes I had that oil filter adapter leak problem a while back that resulted in a no start. Ended up replacing the adapter seal and that fixed things, although I can't remember what I did to the starter...cleaned it up or replaced it. I'll have to look at my notes in my FSM to see if I've done that yet. After 14 years it's hard to remember what all I've replaced.
Turns out I've got a problem starter. Cleaned both batt terminals and engine ground and got nothing. Tapped the starter a few times and it fired right up. So what kind of starter should I look for? Want something decent with a warranty but not too expensive. Do most people just go for something like an Ultra from Oreiley's with the lifetime? I've got a 70$ credit at Napa so I was thinking maybe one of their reman Bosch around $120.
Glad you found the problem.

I replaced mine with a new Bosch.
A reman should be fine too.

I placed a dab of high-temp grease on
the Bendix drive before installation, which
makes the starter engage very smoothly.
I've always used the Napa Rayloc but Bosch is a good choice too.
You don't have to replace the whole starter. Just replace the brushes.

Write-up here: https://www.naxja.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1115001

Grimm's images are gone, but mine are still there.

Might be a good idea to put on a new solenoid too.

I did this on the starter on my '96 seven years ago and it has been working just fine ever since. Daily driver.