Starter problem or something else? (It's two separate issues)

psyon

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I have a 2003 Liberty 2.4L 5 speed manual that I bought last year. Since I've had it, there has always been an issue that sometimes I would turn the key, and the engine would crank very slowly, but if I just left off the key, and turned it again, it would start fine. Not sure if related or not, but back in June I ended up replacing both the starter and the battery. The issue changed, and instead it was every now and then the engine would start to crank, and then just decide to come to a halt, and I would left off the key, and then try again and it would start right up. I got some stuff going on in my life that made it hard for me to spend the time diagnosing the issue, and really I just needed it to run me around a bit which it did fine until a couple days ago. I went out in the morning to head to the store, and when I turned the key, it cranked for less than a second, and then it sounded like the starter was just spinning. Let off the key, tried again, cranked for a moment again, then just spinning. Since I had recently replace the starter, and for a while had suspected bad ground, I cleaned battery terminals, and the ground connection to the block. Also pulled the starter and make sure that the area where it mated to the engine was clean so there was good ground. Also looked at the Flywheel teeth through the opening, and looked ok. Problem persisted. We double checked continuity on all wiring, but not for voltage drops yet, and things seem fine. I swapped some relays, same problem. I finally decided it had to be the starter, so I went down to have it tested, and it tested fine. So I double checked some other things, and finally went back to AutoZone and convinced them to get me a new one under warranty even though it tested good. Got it the next day, put it on, same problem. Worried I drained the battery at this point, I had my brother come jump, same thing. Then 5 minutes later my dad came over and asked to hear it, and when I turned it over it cranked just fine, but didn't fire. Turned the key again, good cranking, but after a bit, sounded like the starter wasn't engaged again, and was just spinning. So now it's cranking more often than not, still just sounds like the starter is spinning at times, but now it's not firing. To me, that ruled out the flywheel, just in case I didn't notice something. I found another forum post on another site with a person having similiar issues with a different Jeep model from an earlier time frame, and he ended up with a timing issue. Another post someone had the same sort of problem, and it was just due to a bad batch of starters from AutoZone, and they eventually got a new one from somewhere else, and it worked fine they said. Given that I am having firing issues now, I don't think it's just a matter of a bad starter, unless the starter issue caused the timing to jump. This is the only Jeep I have ever owned though, so I am not familiar with things that tend to go wrong with them, and just chasing what ever I can at this point. Any other suggestions? Could it be the timing? Could it just be bad batch of rebuilt starters? Just a wiring issue? I at least have a borrowed vehicle now to get me around for the holidays, but I have become very fond of my little Buggy as it's come to be called, and really want it back up and moving. Last winter I became the hero of the house by rescuing everyone else who couldn't make it up and down the icy hills, and it would be nice to get it running again before we get back weather for this winter.

--Don
 

Billwill

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Download the 2003 Jeep KJ Service Manual here....has information on how everything works and section 8 W has the Wiring Diagrams.

Make sure the Battery Connections are clean and tight and the Negative lead going from the Battery Negative terminal going to engine is clean and tight.

There are two grounding straps coming off the rear of the engine heads and fixed to the Firewall.

There apparently is another grounding wire that grounds the Starter Motor so that the Starter Motor is not reliant on a good contact to the engine block.

These Starter Motors do not use a so called "Bendix" whereby a small gear on the Starter Motor Shaft flies outwards and engages with the Flywheel.

These Starter Motors have a separate "Solenoid" mounted on its side that physically swings the small gear outwards to engage the Flywheel while at the same time making a big contact that supplies +12 volts straight from the Batter Positive terminal and onto the Starter motor brushes.

This +12 volts is a thick wire coming straight off the Battery Positive via the Fuse Box under the hood and has no fuse inline with it...disconnect the Battery completely if you start playing around with it!

The fact that you hear the motor spinning but not engaging would suggest that the solenoid on the side of the Starter Motor is not doing its job properly ie. not flipping the small gear outwards and not connecting the two flat copper contacts together...make sure these flat copper/brass contacts are clean and making good contact!

Or else it is a mechanical issue.

I would suggest you remove the Starter Motor and open it up. Carefully connect the +12 volts to it and a ground and see what the small gear is doing etc.;)
www.colorado4wheel.com/manuals/Jeep/KJ/
 

jeepop

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psyon

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Download the 2003 Jeep KJ Service Manual here....has information on how everything works and section 8 W has the Wiring Diagrams.

Have it already. It's a huge manual, and hard to search the PDF, but I am getting there.

Make sure the Battery Connections are clean and tight and the Negative lead going from the Battery Negative terminal going to engine is clean and tight.

The connections at the battery itself are good and clean. Not sure about the conditions of the wire yet. I only get a little bit of time each day to get out and do diagnostics.

There are two grounding straps coming off the rear of the engine heads and fixed to the Firewall.

The service manual says these are only for radio interference issues. Would they affect the starter?

There apparently is another grounding wire that grounds the Starter Motor so that the Starter Motor is not reliant on a good contact to the engine block.

There are only two wires that attach to the starter. The positive cable from the battery, and the smaller wire from the starter relay.

These Starter Motors do not use a so called "Bendix" whereby a small gear on the Starter Motor Shaft flies outwards and engages with the Flywheel.

These Starter Motors have a separate "Solenoid" mounted on its side that physically swings the small gear outwards to engage the Flywheel while at the same time making a big contact that supplies +12 volts straight from the Batter Positive terminal and onto the Starter motor brushes.

That's what is confusing me when the starter seems like it's spinning without engaging. If the solenoid itself was bad and not keeping the gear engaged, then it should also cut power. I thought maybe it was the starter drive, or clutch, depending on who you ask, but I replaced the starter, and it does the same thing. Some people have suggested a bad batch of starters at AutoZone, but they were hesitant to replace it once under warranty, so I need to get some proof before I fight with them again about it.

The fact that you hear the motor spinning but not engaging would suggest that the solenoid on the side of the Starter Motor is not doing its job properly ie. not flipping the small gear outwards and not connecting the two flat copper contacts together...make sure these flat copper/brass contacts are clean and making good contact!

If the contacts were bad, wouldn't that mean the motor wouldn't spin?

I would suggest you remove the Starter Motor and open it up. Carefully connect the +12 volts to it and a ground and see what the small gear is doing etc.;)
www.colorado4wheel.com/manuals/Jeep/KJ/

I will probably do that, but so far have been hesitant, because I don't want AZ to fight me on replacing it under warranty if it's been opened.
 

psyon

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Measure with your VOM the voltage along the negative battery wire at the stud, end of the clamp to thee visible wire. Mine did not look bad but was causing voltage drop and I had to replace the clamp and about 3 inches of the negative terminal wire to get rid of my voltage drop.

That's my next step.
 

jeepop

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If the contacts were bad, wouldn't that mean the motor wouldn't spin?



I will probably do that, but so far have been hesitant, because I don't want AZ to fight me on replacing it under warranty if it's been opened.


One way to test this would be to take the wires off the starter and then use leads directly to another battery and see if the power when bypassing the Jeeps electrical system is enough to make the starter engage like it should. It would be like bench testing the starter while installed on the Jeep. I know there is not a lot of room under there to work. It does help to remove that 1 10 mm bolt from the heat shield to bend it out of the way.

But .... I am still thinking there is a drop where the wire is crimped into the metal coming off the battery clamp. That is where my problem area was.
 

psyon

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Voltage drop on both the positive cable to the connector on the starter, and body of the starter to the negative terminals are the same. When I initially turn the key, it goes to 0.24v, but holds between 0.19-0.21 while cranking. When the starter disengages and just spins, both were dropping to 0.09v. Things I have read said it shouldn't be over 0.20, but that some manufacturers allow up to 0.60. Looks like the Jeep Service Manual says it shouldn't be over 0.20, but what is it normally with brand new cables for reference?
 

psyon

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Also, I didn't disable fuel pump and such. I assumed it was because you don't want gas shooting into the cylinder when testing, but would that make a difference on the voltage drop?
 

jeepop

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Hate asking someone to do something they already did. In your initial thread you said you checked "continuity". Does this mean you know that there is the same voltage as measured across the positive and negative of the battery as when you measure from the positive wire at the starter to ground?

Pulling a fuse for the fuel filter would not be that hard.
 

psyon

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Checked for voltages where voltage should be, and continuity to ground where things should be grounded.

When I last tried, it seemed like it wanted to fire. A bit of smoke even came out the exhaust.
 

Billwill

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The two wires coming off the rear of the heads to the Firewall have definitely been proven in lots of posts to be the reason for engine not turning over so I would recommend that you do check them.

Take a very thick pair of cables such as the Jumper Cables that have heavy duty clamps on each end.

Use one of these cable sets, fit one...the Red one... onto the Starter motor large stud and the other end onto the Battery Positive post.
In other words you are fitting another thick wire in parallel to the existing unfused wire coming from the battery, to the Junction box and then to the motor stud. Be careful not to touch this lead onto chassis anywhere or there will be major sparks!

Now take the Black Jumper lead and clamp one side to the body of the Starter motor and the other side onto the Battery Negative post.

So we are merely doubling up the positive and negative power going to the Starter motor in case there is dirty connection.

See if that makes a difference!

Then stick a voltmeter set to DC Volts onto the small connector on the Starter Motor and the other end to chassis.

Check what voltage the meter is showing while turning the ignition key.

If the Starter Motor sounds like it is spinning but the engine is not turning over...turn the motor over a bit by hand in case there are worn teeth on parts of the flywheel.;)

An Auto Electrician should be able to test the Starter Motor if you remove it for him to test!
 

psyon

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If the Starter Motor sounds like it is spinning but the engine is not turning over...turn the motor over a bit by hand in case there are worn teeth on parts of the flywheel.;)

I've already checked the flywheel out, and it looks fine. There are times now when it will crank over for quite a while too. I think the cylinders may be severely flooded, but I've been busy helping my brother with stuff so haven't been able to check. He's letting me borrow his car, so as long as he doesn't mind me continuing to use his car, I don't mind putting off fixing mine to help him.

An Auto Electrician should be able to test the Starter Motor if you remove it for him to test!

It's already been off and tested. It tests fine.
 

psyon

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I got jumper cables on to the starter connection from positive, and then also clipped onto the body of the starter and back to negative on the battery. The engine cranked for a moment, and then disengaged. We checked the wire from the starter relay to the solenoid for continuity when cranking over, but is there a way to do a voltage drop test on that to make sure it's not that wire causing the issue?
 

psyon

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I took a break from the starter and checked the ignition issue again. I pulled the fuel pump relay and got it to crank over, and it seemed like it wanted to fire but then died. Did that a few times, and when I put the relay back in, it didn't want to fire at all again.
 

Johnny O

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If it’s spinning but not engaging, usually means the bendix is shot if the teeth are all intact.
 

psyon

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If it’s spinning but not engaging, usually means the bendix is shot if the teeth are all intact.
As far as I am aware these starters don't use a bendix, but the starter has already been replaced also.
 

jeepop

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Sounds like time to start testing the fuel pressure and fuel pump. Sorry your troubles are continuing.
 

psyon

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Sounds like time to start testing the fuel pressure and fuel pump. Sorry your troubles are continuing.

I just don't like when two problems start at the same time and aren't somehow related. If it's trying to fire over when the fuel pump is disabled, would that mean it's getting too much pressure so the injectors are flooding the engine?
 

psyon

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The engine never threw a code regarding the cam position sensor, but it appears it was rubbing. I had checked the gap, and it seemed ok, but I just pulled it to double check today, and there was some metal shavings on it. I am also not sure what's going on in the lower left, where it looks like part is portruding.

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psyon

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Replaced the cam shaft position sensor, and it started! Well, after a couple tries, still having the starter issue. Its running a bit rough though, and I think I hear a ticking that may be the tone wheel rubbing on the sensor, so I need to investigate that further.

For the starter issue, it occurred to me that all my testing has been done from the cable connectors, and not the battery itself. I've cleaned the connections a few times, but I wonder if they connectors are just that ****** right now, that even when I hooked jumper cables from the battery to the starter that it's causing a drop in voltage.
 

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