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Jeep Battery Issue Repair - Randy’s Electrical Corner

Posted in How To: Electrical on March 6, 2015
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You say “potato,” I say “zebra”—or something like that. Where do those stupid sayings come from? Why are there so many of them? Like those Magic Eye posters, I never really got it. What are you people talking about? Why does it make sense to everyone but me?

Then, Trasborg was talking to his buddy about their “DICs,” and I felt like that all over again. They were talking about their DICs in front of the guy’s son. I decided right then and there I was going to go to a restaurant and ask for a side of mashed “zebra” (hopefully with garlic) because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Think I’d get a plate of gooey zebra meat?

I think they’d sick those naked chicks on me (editor’s note: He’s talking about PETA). And that wouldn’t be a bad thing really. I mean, painted naked chicks are good right? What’s worse is they were talking about their Jeeps—Trasborg and his buddy, not the naked chicks. Trasborg has a ’98 ZJ and his buddy has a ’97 ZJ. As it turns out, they were talking about their “VICs” (editor’s note: Vehicle Information Center, later often called Electronic Vehicle Information Center.) The “DIC” thing was supposed to stand for “Driver Information Center” and was something Trasborg picked up at a dealership a long time ago.

I’m sure by now you are wondering what their DICs are doing here. The whole point of this, and the mashed zebra, is that I’ve been talking a lot about one thing to you guys and almost totally ignoring another. I might as well be showing you a Magic Eye poster. Both Trasborg and his buddy have had issues with the positive wires in their Jeeps. I kind of mentioned it once when I put an alternator in a Cherokee and when I showed you some battery-terminal upgrades, but this is kind of important, and I never really hit on it hard enough.

Here it is: If you are having goofy electrical problems, it is just as important to make sure your positive connections are good as it is to make sure you have good grounds. Trasborg is crazy about grounding stuff—really crazy. His girl tells me he talks about grounds in his sleep. Oh, don’t tell him I talk to his girl. Anyway, he was having problems with his Grand Cherokee and didn’t even think about the positive cable. He actually killed an alternator because of it. So, even though I’ve been telling you to make sure you have good grounds, check your positives too.

Corrosion is no one’s friend. If your battery terminals don’t look like this, start here. Clean them. By the way, if your terminals and terminal connectors look bad, you might have corroded wires too. Even the newest Jeeps have problems with wires turning green. If your terminals are bad, you might want to peel back just a bit of insulation from the wire and make sure the wires aren’t green too. Corrosion is no one’s friend. If your battery terminals don’t look like this, start here. Clean them. By the way, if your terminals and terminal connectors look bad, you might have corroded wires too. Even the newest Jeeps have problems with wires turning green. If your terminals are bad, you might want to peel back just a bit of insulation from the wire and make sure the wires aren’t green too.
Trasborg overthinks things. So does this Jeep. When it started telling him to check the battery, he lost it. This is the high-end information cluster for that Jeep, and it shows way too much information. The funniest part of it for me is that the sensors go bad all the time, and if you aren’t lucky, the unit itself dies. I so hope I’m around when that happens. I think Trasborg’s head will explode. Trasborg overthinks things. So does this Jeep. When it started telling him to check the battery, he lost it. This is the high-end information cluster for that Jeep, and it shows way too much information. The funniest part of it for me is that the sensors go bad all the time, and if you aren’t lucky, the unit itself dies. I so hope I’m around when that happens. I think Trasborg’s head will explode.
So, when the information center told him check battery, he took his multimeter out of his back pocket and checked it on the side of the road. The voltage read 11.7 V with the engine running. It should read in the mid 14s ideally with the engine on and in the mid 12s with the engine off. Something was wrong in here. It turned out that the alternator was dead. Grand Cherokees are notorious for killing alternators, but this time it was Trasborg’s fault, not the Jeep’s. So, when the information center told him check battery, he took his multimeter out of his back pocket and checked it on the side of the road. The voltage read 11.7 V with the engine running. It should read in the mid 14s ideally with the engine on and in the mid 12s with the engine off. Something was wrong in here. It turned out that the alternator was dead. Grand Cherokees are notorious for killing alternators, but this time it was Trasborg’s fault, not the Jeep’s.
He cleaned the terminals (they were pretty corroded before), the wires were good, and he even put a new Northstar battery (northstarbatteries.com) in the Jeep because it kept saying “check battery.” He figured the battery that was in the Jeep when he got it was 10 years old, so better safe than sorry. However, the big problem was a loose nut right here on the power distribution center. I found it and laughed at him a lot. But we still only got 13.4 V with the Jeep running. I guess I have more searching to do. He cleaned the terminals (they were pretty corroded before), the wires were good, and he even put a new Northstar battery (northstarbatteries.com) in the Jeep because it kept saying “check battery.” He figured the battery that was in the Jeep when he got it was 10 years old, so better safe than sorry. However, the big problem was a loose nut right here on the power distribution center. I found it and laughed at him a lot. But we still only got 13.4 V with the Jeep running. I guess I have more searching to do.

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