Starting and cooling problems

tjdarkmatter

New Member
Joined
May 7, 2024
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9
Location
Texas
First post here. I have a 2004 Tj Sahara with 4.0, 5 Speed manual and about 95k miles.
It's basically stock.


Current status:
Jeep wont start. When I turn the key, it clicks once then everything turns off. The cable is tight on the battery, but if I move the ground cable slightly battery, it resets it and I can try again. Unsure if coolant system is working right since wont start, but the last short drive seemed ok.



Background:​

Recently I had 2 issues that popped up with starting and cooling. I suspect they are unrelated, but not certain so I will give some details on both issues.

Coolant:
I first noticed a lot of coolant leaking after a short drive. On closer look, the bottom radiator hose was disconnected from the radiator. After it cooled, I reattached and filled with coolant again.
I replaced nearly all of the coolant system about 5 years ago. That might have been 30k miles ago. Since then I have not really needed to add more than a small amount of coolant when I check it.
After getting the jeep to start temporarily, I found that it was quickly overheating. I turned the heat on, and that quickly dissipated the heat. I tried to burp the cooling system again. For a short drive, that seemed to help, but then started having problems with starting.

Not Starting:
Before I really had a chance to confirm if that was a good enough fix for the coolant, I started having issues getting the jeep to start. It would click and everything would shut off.
After trying to jump and charge the 4 year old battery, I bought a new battery. That still didn't fix it.
I did some tests swapping fuses & relays, bypassing clutch safety, checked voltage going to starter, and disassembled the ignition switch in the steering column. Nothing appeared to be wrong physically with the ignition switch, so I put it back together and back on. I tried again and then it started. I got it to start and drive a few times before it became a problem again.


What are you recommendations?
Thanks!
 
Thanks,
The battery terminals looked good without corrosion and are just a few years old, but i removed them and tightened them. I removed the starter side connections and cleaned them up a little, but that didn't help.
I removed the starter completely, and I guess I'll get it tested at an autoparts place.
Is there anything else you recommend?
What would cause everything to turn off when I turn the key?
 
Bad ignition switch would be my guess.

I'd look up the wiring diagrams for your year in the FSM in the resources section.

Describe everything turns off? Dash, lights? Like you turned the key back but didn't?

-Mac
 
The dash lights go off. If I turn the key back to off and then turn it again, none of the dash lights come on again.
I haven't tried the headlights to see if they turn off, but I think it's everything. I have noticed my under hood light goes out as well, so to me I think it's like it loses all electrical power everywhere.
 
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Yesterday when I was working on it, I tried jumping the starter relay. That had previously worked once or twice, but now just did clicked and turned the power off.

I also attempted to bridge the starter solenoid to jump it that way. I'm about 80% sure I was doing it right, but it did nothing when i tried that.
 
If you wiggle the ground cable, you can get it to start? If so, I would look closer at the battery terminal to make sure it isn't cracked or pull the ground cable and inspect for damage.

Or just replace the cable...could be the wire has separated from the lugs.

-Mac
 
If you wiggle the ground cable, you can get it to start? If so, I would look closer at the battery terminal to make sure it isn't cracked or pull the ground cable and inspect for damage.

Sorry for the confusion, no that wont get it to start. But if I wiggle the ground, it kind of resets the electrical power and the dash will light up again when i turn the key.
 
What happens if someone turns the key while you wiggle that ground?

@tworley nailed it...you've got either a bad ground or possibly a bad battery...I've seen posts on batteries come loose on the inside...too much hammering on terminals.

-Mac
 
What happens if someone turns the key while you wiggle that ground?

@tworley nailed it...you've got either a bad ground or possibly a bad battery...I've seen posts on batteries come loose on the inside...too much hammering on terminals.

-Mac

I'll give that a try this afternoon.
The battery is new from costco, so I haven't been doing any hammering on it.
 
When troubleshooting a main ground cable you can connect a jumper cable to the battery ground and to a clean metal surface on the engine thus bypassing your cable. Next connect from the engine to the frame to bypass that ground. Did you happen to inspect the ground strap near the back of the engine that goes to the firewall?
 
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I'll give that a try this afternoon.
The battery is new from costco, so I haven't been doing any hammering on it.

Interstate makes good batteries in my opinion...and Costco has enough sales that you're going to get something reasonably fresh.

I just bought an AGM from the interstate dealer for my truck. Costco doesn't carry them. Not very happy with my yellow top Optima in my Jeep.

-Mac
 
I tried testing the starter with it off of the jeep, and it didn't work. So I have that part on order.

Thanks for all the help. Once the part comes in, I will update how it goes.
 
I replaced the starter and double checked all connections and it's starting right up smoothly now.
Thanks for all the help.
I didn't get to drive it far enough to know if it's still overheating. Storms for a few days, but hopefully I will get a chance to check it out over the weekend. While I was ordering parts, I went ahead and ordered a thermostat and housing.