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July 2011 Randy’s Electrical Corner

Posted in How To: Electrical on July 1, 2011 Comment (0)
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July 2011 Randy’s Electrical Corner

Kind of like greased pigs and eels, it is hard to chase down electrical problems. We all tend to try and think our way through it. This is why I am so good at electrical. I don’t over think anything. I just tend to deal with whatever I have in front of me as it comes.

If you are having starting problems or voltage gauge problems or dim light problems, the alternator is often looked at first. Figuring out if your alternator is in good shape can make a guy go crazy. (No, I’m not alternator-crazy, I was born this way. Well, maybe the shock box in school didn’t help). The thing about alternators in Jeeps is that most of the time they do their job right up until they don’t do any job anymore. I don’t worry too much about changes in what the voltage gauge shows or if it cranks harder one day than that before it.

If you see this voltage at the battery with the Jeep running, you know your alternator is dead. Also, you know you have a remarkable battery. It usually doesn’t take much time to dip into the 11-volt range running off the battery. On OBD2 Jeeps as soon as the voltage dips too low, a “check gauges” light comes on in the instrument cluster just in case you aren’t a gauge reader. In pre-’96 Jeeps the gauges are known to be somewhat less than accurate. Keep an eye on what “normal” is for your Jeep and if it drops a couple of volts then worry. Many times, these dirt-choked Jeep alternators start making noise before they die so you should have some warning.

So, when the alternator in Jp magazine’s ’98 Cherokee project started making noises, I told them not to worry about it. When it flat-out died one day, I told ’em it was time for an upgrade. Like any true Jeep guys, they agreed it was time to upgrade and left it in my hands.

I’ve used Mean Green starters and alternators in the past and have never been let down, so I got a hold of a 200-amp unit for the ’98 Cherokee and installed it, shooting pictures of some alternator-diagnosing tech and a few side-by-side comparisons so you could see why the Mean Green was worth the extra coin.

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Mean Green Industies
Derry, PA 15627

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