Called roadside assistance because my 1998 Jeep Cherokee would not start

I managed to borrow jumper cables & a guy helped me with his car but for some reason it didn’t work.

BHPian Jeroen recently shared this with fellow enthusiasts.

Last night I drove home in the jeep. I had just pulled onto the freeway when I noticed the voltmeter had dropped to zero and the red light check meter had come on!

Problems with the instruments and lights on the instrument display are a well-known problem on these old Jeeps. I have had several failures. But I thought I had fixed it earlier when I cleaned the two connectors on the back of the instrument display. Because I had no problems. Also, when there is a problem, lights and gauges usually no longer indicate. The “check gauge” light and non-functioning voltmeter was something I hadn’t seen before.

I didn’t think much of it. The car still ran fine. But after 20 minutes or so I got tired of looking at this problem. So I stopped at a gas station to see what was wrong. Unfortunately, this is the only car that doesn’t have any tools in it (yet!). The first thing I did was check the user manual. Sure, this problem was mentioned. So it was likely more than just a loose monitor connector.

I tried to restart the engine, but it was immediately obvious that the battery was almost dead!! Managed to borrow jumper cables from someone and he helped me with his car. But for some reason it wouldn’t work. Also, the jumper cables got very hot very quickly. I double checked that I had them connected correctly, which they were.

So finally I called my insurance emergency number. A mechanic came within 35 minutes. He checked the battery with a multimeter, about 11.5V. So too low. He had one of those huge booster packs with him. The engine started immediately. Checked with the multimeter and it looked like the battery was charging as well. Volts were back on and the “check gauges” light was off.

So I just drove home. This morning the Jeep still managed to start and I drove over to our local Euromaster, one of those quick fitters (tyres, exhaust, batteries).

I told them what had happened and could they do a proper battery test for capacity. Sure, they were just going to drive it into their workshop, but it wouldn’t start. The battery is dead again. So they brought the battery tester outside and hooked it up to the jeep’s battery. Within 10 seconds it had diagnosed a broken battery cell. Which we thought explained all the problems.

Unfortunately they didn’t have this type of battery in stock, but an auto parts store a few miles down the road did. Plus and minus are interchanged compared to regular batteries. And the wires in the Jeep are too short to fit, so you’ll have to have one of those reverse-polarity batteries.

Old and new battery

I checked the battery compartment, usually you find a lot of rust here. Not much, yes it is plastic, there may be rust under it.

But I noticed that the old battery had pinched some of the wires! Not broken yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

New battery installed, engine started right away and all looks good.

So I load up the Jeep with some of the old parts and used fluids to be discarded and return the old battery. You pay a deposit of 10 Euro on your new battery, which will be returned when you hand in your old battery.

Dumped all the old stuff on the council tip and returned the old battery. I drove home happy! I was just on the phone with wrench mate Peter to tell him what happened when I noticed the voltmeter had dropped back to zero and the blown “Check Gauges” light had come back on!!

I quickly drove home and checked the battery with my multimeter. Only 12.5V, so no charging happens!! So I checked the manuals, I also called my Jeep specialist Martin. The alternator on this Jeep has an external voltage regulator that is part of the PCM. Can’t replace the voltage regulator myself. But with no charge at all the most likely problem was the alternator and in particular the brushes.

So I decided to take the alternator off and take it from there. Shuffled my cars around and the Jeep back to its usual splash position.

Removing alternators can be a bit of a pain on some cars. It wasn’t that difficult on the jeep. Still, it took more than two hours for me. But then again, I’m very slow these days.

Here you can see the upper bolt just to the right of the battery compartment.

Here the generator from below the engine.

Once I removed all the cables and the various bolts (had to take the battery out to get to the bolts) it took me about 10-15 minutes to pry it out from under the engine and all the various hoses, hoses, brackets and so on.

In a nearby small town, Leerdam, I knew a company that overhauls starters and generators. So I took my generator over to them. The guy opened it right up and it was definitely a problem with the bushes. Almost no one left and therefore not enough pressure on them anymore.

He was able to look it over for me, but he double checked for the price of a new one. And it was about the same price the overhaul might have cost. So we ordered the new one which should arrive tomorrow hopefully!!

I spend the afternoon cleaning up bolts and wires. I also removed the ground connection and cleaned them.

There are these two studs behind the loose cables in from them.

Bad foundations can cause all sorts of problems, so better safe than sorry. Once everything was clean, I liberally applied dielectric grease.

The dielectric grease works better than vaseline alone I think. Especially in this location as it is likely to get a bit wet. We’ll see. Hopefully the new generator will arrive tomorrow!!

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