Battery, alternator, or starter? - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
 
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post #1 of 25 Old 01-04-2014, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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Battery, alternator, or starter?

Ok, so, check this out. Came back from an extended vacation to WV and Vegas on the 30th and my truck wouldn't start. So, I jumped it with the JK. No problems really. Seemed routine.

FFWD to today. JK wouldn't start so I tried to jump it with the truck. Took all of about 20 minutes. Didn't seem like the JK wanted to take the charge.

After I finally got it jumped, I took it for a spin to try to charge the battery up a bit. Took it out on a simple trail about a mile from my house and trying to turn around, I stalled and it was bone dead again/still.

So, I finally got a couple guys that were able to help me. Luckily, I know the guy that lives right beside the trail and he has a WJ and was willing to drive back there and give me a jump. Hooked up to him and tried over and over to start it with no success. Finally, he tapped on the starter a bit and it turned over. So, we loaded up and started to drive out and as I turn around... I stalled again (I guess I need to man up and quit pussy footing with the skinny pedal).

More jumping... more tapping on the starter... and it started again.

This time, when I drove out the trail leading to the paved road, all the lights went out and as I let off the gas, I heard the engine sputter to a halt.

So, we jumped it again (with a little tap, tap, taparoo on the ol' starter) and I finally got it home after the 3rd jump.

So, what initially started with me thinking that I needed a battery because it wouldn't start for so long when trying to jump it turned into me thinking I needed a starter because the tapping helped, but then after losing all electrical on the 2nd run out of the trail, I'm thinking it might be the alternator.

To add more to the story, I drove back down the road with nothing but my hazards on. The TrailDash was showing me at 14.7/14.8 volts when I started and it was slowly creeping up to about 15.3 when I got home (right under a mile). Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that sound like a bad alternator?

What would make the starter screw up like that? Loose wire? Starter already bad?

FWIW, the JK is about 4.5 years old, but it has <29,000 miles on it.

Temps have been as low as 0 in the past 24 hours and I think it has been under freezing most of the past 3-4 days.

Any ideas?

Thanks...


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post #2 of 25 Old 01-04-2014, 11:18 PM
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Since the battery was drained, you have a couple of possibilities:

1. The battery naturally died
2. There's a drain on the battery from an electrical problem causing the batter to die.
3. Combination of both.

So, I would start with a load test on the battery. Advance Auto will do that at no cost. And since you mention tapping the starter, they can test that too. Never hurts to verify.

If a load test comes back good, then you definitely have an electrical drain happening. If the load test comes back bad, then you still have the possibility of an electrical problem. Either way you get to verify the battery.

For the lights going out and the engine sputtering, from my understanding, the JK jeeps don't like low voltage from the battery. I've read it causing all sorts of interesting issues.

As for the alternator, with the information you give from your Trail Dash I wouldn't think the alternator is bad.

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post #3 of 25 Old 01-04-2014, 11:50 PM
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The long time to jump start and the high voltage reading while driving make me think you have a bad connection / corrosion issue, or a battery problem.

In case you have not already checked, make sure your battery terminals are clean (assuming a lead-acid battery) and tight.
The negative terminal will almost always stay good, but the positive post and clamp can get a dark corrosion that insulates very well.

Check that all wiring connections are tight and not corroded.
If a battery cable is swollen anywhere, that spot is wasted (corrosion from acid getting inside).

Hope it's something easy and cheap to fix. Best of luck.

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post #4 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. FWIW, this is a DieHard Platinum battery that's roughly a year old. I wouldn't think it would be bad at this point. I'll try to give it a good look over today after work.

I can pull the battery and take it to Advanced Auto, Auto Zone, or Sears to have it tested, but I'd rather not have to try to drive it there to have the starter tested.

We'll see where this goes.

Thanks.


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post #5 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 07:05 AM
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you have AAA? Most areas can come out and do a battery/alt test at your house

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post #6 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 07:22 AM
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If you have a multi meter you can test the battery, starter and alternator yourself. There are a ton of good YouTube videos that walk you through them all. A multi meter is an amazing tool, I'm no pro with mine but I'm slowing learning how to use it.

But as mentioned, Auto Zone or other auto parts places can do it to.

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post #7 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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No multimeter yet and no AAA.

A friend says that the DieHard Platinum that I have in the JK needs to be trickle charged once it's run down. Does that make sense?


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post #8 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 03:44 PM
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Still makes me snicker when people own a late model anything and don't own a basic DMM. Without taking some readings and testing the battery, anything stated would be a guess in all honesty. The tapping on the starter could be coincidental to getting it to finally start, or, it could be a flat spot in the windings and the battery/alternator are fine. Without voltage readings, hard to say. But with the Traildash saying 14-15 vdc, that tells me the charging system is fine. I am leaning towards a bad starter with assumption.

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post #9 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 03:52 PM
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^x2 on not owning a DMM, it's extremely vital if you want to have a remote clue on what the vehicle is doing. A basic necessity.

Tapping on the starter and it working is pretty common for a dying starter on some vehicles. And it's certainly possible that is part of your problem.

Leaving any battery static below freezing temperatures for a few days can severely deplete it's capacity.

..in other words, you're going to need to get off your ass do something. Either take the battery to sears and have them check [and maybe warranty] it. Get AAA and have them check it for you. Get a multimeter and give us some numbers...or...well, that's about all I can come up with.

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post #10 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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I gotcha, Goody. It'll probably happen tomorrow after work. Just too freakin' tired today and I'll just drive the truck tomorrow. At least I've got options now.


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post #11 of 25 Old 01-05-2014, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jeeperjkj View Post
Thanks, guys. FWIW, this is a DieHard Platinum battery that's roughly a year old. I wouldn't think it would be bad at this point. I'll try to give it a good look over today after work.

I can pull the battery and take it to Advanced Auto, Auto Zone, or Sears to have it tested, but I'd rather not have to try to drive it there to have the starter tested.

We'll see where this goes.

Thanks.
You don't have to drive your Jeep their for the starter test. You need to remove it and they will bench test it for you.

Also, even though your battery is newer, draining it too much can damage it.

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post #12 of 25 Old 01-06-2014, 01:06 AM
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Also, even though your battery is newer, draining it too much can damage it.
^^This. One full discharge can waste a battery to the point where it will never hold a charge again. CAN, not WILL, so take the advice above and have the battery LOAD tested, which you CANNOT do with a standard multi-meter, but as others have said, Advance Auto, AutoZone, O'Reilly, and others will do for free.

My money is on a bad starter solenoid draining the battery, and/or loose/corroded connections at the starter.

Also, when a battery is fully discharged, or nearly, it will take a LOT of driving to restore it to functional charge levels. A standard alternator just doesn't have that much capacity and it will be hard on the alternator as well. Best to have it charged, and yes, with a trickle charger if its an AGM design (Absorbed Glass Mat).

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post #13 of 25 Old 01-06-2014, 10:23 AM
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Never used a DMM before. Is a cheapo from harbor freight sufficient, or should we get something more high end?
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post #14 of 25 Old 01-06-2014, 12:01 PM
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Never used a DMM before. Is a cheapo from harbor freight sufficient, or should we get something more high end?
I'd say something within the craftsman range would be sufficient in quality for a newb. The HF ones are for if you need one and are on the side of the road, in the middle of New Mexico during the summer and you don't have anything else.


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post #15 of 25 Old 01-06-2014, 12:07 PM
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X2 ^^^^

I picked up one from HF on a free with any purchase coupon. Let's just say you get what you pay for. I took it home and put the leads into a wall socket. Sparks flew and the breaker tripped.

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post #16 of 25 Old 01-06-2014, 02:05 PM
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Thanks for the feedback
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post #17 of 25 Old 01-07-2014, 12:03 PM
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I had a similar problem. actually turned out my jeep didn't recognize as being in park. Battery was fine. Warranty covered a whole new shifter assembly which replaced one module that was bad. They said it got wet. I have NO IDEA HOW .
But good luck, not a bad idea to run a second battery though. its on my list for after I get my tax return!
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post #18 of 25 Old 01-07-2014, 07:07 PM
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I'd say something within the craftsman range would be sufficient in quality for a newb. The HF ones are for if you need one and are on the side of the road, in the middle of New Mexico during the summer and you don't have anything else.


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X2 ^^^^

I picked up one from HF on a free with any purchase coupon. Let's just say you get what you pay for. I took it home and put the leads into a wall socket. Sparks flew and the breaker tripped.

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I have one of the mid-range HF ones (regular about $25, but on sale now for $20) and it has been surprisingly functional and reliable. Much more meter than a typical do-it-yourselfer will need for wiring/troubleshooting his (or her) Jeep. Has a temp probe too. (But it still won't load test a battery )


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post #19 of 25 Old 01-08-2014, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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Turns out it was just the battery. Took it to Sears and they charged it back up. Installed it last night, drove over to Autzone and they tested it out. Said the battery, alternator, and starter all tested fine.

We'll see how long this battery hold out, though. It's not even a year old yet. Bought it on 24 Jan 13, so I've got over 3 years left on the full replacement warranty.


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post #20 of 25 Old 01-08-2014, 05:33 PM
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Turns out it was just the battery. Took it to Sears and they charged it back up. Installed it last night, drove over to Autzone and they tested it out. Said the battery, alternator, and starter all tested fine.

We'll see how long this battery hold out, though. It's not even a year old yet. Bought it on 24 Jan 13, so I've got over 3 years left on the full replacement warranty.
I think I have the same battery and it has been great. Supposedly they are a re-badged Odyssey. Shit happens but I would say that something drained the battery.

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post #21 of 25 Old 01-08-2014, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
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I think I have the same battery and it has been great. Supposedly they are a re-badged Odyssey. Shit happens but I would say that something drained the battery.
My guess is, when I used it to jump my truck, it drained it enough that (since I didn't let it run for a bit afterwards) when I shut it off and it got really cold (like 0 degrees or so with windchills under -30) over the next day or so afterwards it was enough to kill it.

I ended up needing to replace the starter in the tow rig today. A buddy of mine helped me diagnose it (was pretty easy when he saw it throwing sparks when I tried to start it yesterday) today and swap it out. Now, the cold start problems I was having are all but gone. I was being very hard to start in the cold due to a bad starter. Apparently, the idiot that installled the last starter didn't have it aligned properly and cross-threaded one of the bolts holding it in. Since it was not aligned, it was creating more load that it should. It wore out that old starter and was causing a huge drain on the batteries when I started it (moreso in the colder weather).

Now, with a new starter, it fired right up a few minutes ago and it's like 20 degrees or so here now (before the new starter, I would have needed to cycle the glow plugs 5-10 times before it would've turned over).

Hopefully, my truck & Jeep troubles are over for a while.


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post #22 of 25 Old 01-08-2014, 10:02 PM
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On a side note, a discharged battery can freeze pretty easy at those temperatures. I'm not sure how it would affect an absorbed glass mat battery but I know on the flooded batteries its no bueno and will easily damage them. If they don't end damaged i'm pretty sure they won't take a charge until they thaw out too

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post #23 of 25 Old 01-09-2014, 08:32 AM
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Sounds to me like your jeep starter is fixing to croak. Tapping on it to get it to work sounds like carbon build up.

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post #24 of 25 Old 01-17-2014, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the battery died again. Jumped it, drove it to Sears, and they replaced it this time... like they should've done when I walked in the first time a week and a half ago.


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post #25 of 25 Old 01-31-2014, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Please see new thread same subject.


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