Starter solenoid problem, melting wires

Tiny
CJCUBINSC
  • MEMBER
  • 1976 JEEP CJ5
  • 3.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • MANUAL
  • 110,000 MILES
The other night my vehicle with a 3.8L would not crank. There was a odd buzzing sound coming from the starter solenoid area. Thinking a drained battery, we tried jumping it off and that's when things got fun. The solenoid got very hot, the cable from the battery got so hot the insulation was melting. There was something smoking not sure if it was the solenoid or ignition control module. So we unhooked the battery and let things cool off over night. This morning I looked under the hood and it looks like the ICM melted. There is a black sticky rubbery goo that seems to have run out from behind it.
My question is, is this a problem with the solenoid, ICM, coil, ground or something else or all of the above? It made the buzzing sound once before after sitting for a while and we changed the battery which fixed it. This battery is less than a year old.
Is it best at this point to replace all of the ignition components and cables/ground connections or am I even in the right ballpark?
*Full disclaimer-before last night I did not know what an ICM or ignition coil was and what I do know about them I learned from many internet searches in the last twenty four hours.
Do you
have the same problem?
Yes
No
Thursday, June 8th, 2017 AT 5:44 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
I'm going with the solenoid.

Remove and inspect the blue wire on "S" terminal of the solenoid. Insure it is not melted anywhere.

Test it for voltage while disconnected. (should show no voltage)

Then test for voltage with someone turning the key to "Start" (should show battery voltage)

When installing the new solenoid, insure it grounds well to the fender.

Let's snatch the starter, take it to a popular auto store for free testing. (insuring it is good)

Will the engine turn using a wrench or ratchet? (see pic 1)

What kinda aftermarket stuff is on your Jeep?

Hold off on the module, it may still work.

This may help if you need something.

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2001-dodge-neon-milage-just-want-put-fliuds-their-locations

Return here for more help/ news!

The Medic

Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Friday, June 9th, 2017 AT 4:29 PM
Tiny
CJCUBINSC
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the suggestions. I took the starter off and had it tested. It failed and I have another one on the way. I also went ahead and got another solenoid and cables from the battery and to the starter. Will update once I get all the parts in. I did go ahead and get new bolts too just to be sure I have good grounds.
There's not much aftermarket stuff on my Jeep other than some old KC style lights on the bumper. There is however 40 years of previous owner "handy work" everywhere so it's hard to tell what is stock and what was added/"fixed".
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Saturday, June 10th, 2017 AT 11:19 AM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
I hope the Promo Code thing may have helped on the starter.

Keep us posted on progress.

A few pics of your Jeep might look good on here!

The Medic
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+1
Saturday, June 10th, 2017 AT 11:25 AM
Tiny
CJCUBINSC
  • MEMBER
Update on my progress:today I installed the new starter, new starter solenoid, new battery cables and new starter cable from the solenoid. I got everything hooked back up like it had originally been (even cleaned my contact points and grounds and used new hardware). The last connection I made was the positive side of the battery.
As soon as I touched the cable to the battery the starter came on like we were turning the key to start it which was odd considering the key wasn't even in the ignition.
I unhooked everything and checked my connections. Hooked the battery back up with the cable from the solenoid to the starter unhooked. I got 12V at the "S" wire when turning the ignition to start but not otherwise.
I unhooked the positive battery cable and put the solenoid to starter cable back on.
Now when I connect the positive side of the battery nothing happens with the starter. Whether I turn the key or not.
I did notice the stud on the battery side of the starter solenoid seemed loose when I hooked it up the second time, like it was broken internally.
I took the solenoid back off and plan on taking it back to Advance to exchange it. I found something on another site about how to test a solenoid and it wasn't engaging to pass power through when power was applied to the S terminal and apparently was originally stuck closed when I first installed it. When I first installed it and the starter engaged as soon as I connected the battery cable, the wire to the S terminal wasn't even connected yet.

Is there any hope of this Jeep ever running again?
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Sunday, June 11th, 2017 AT 7:41 PM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
Roger,

Jeep is just a bit under the weather right now.

Just a refresher

One side of the solenoid is the Positive battery cable and any thing else requiring 12 Volts

The other side is the starter cable ONLY! NOTHING ELSE!

It really does not matter which side is which, Originally Positive stuff is on the right side facing "S" and "I" terminals w/ the "s" and "I" nearer the bottom (the one you show only has the "s" terminal and is upside down) The starter cable goes on the left side.

ON MINE- I have them just opposite, this allows me to touch POSITIVE and "S" at the same time using a screwdriver (Bumping/ starting if the key is "ON") If I am testing stuff/ etc.

You have the Prestolite Ignition system, I had so many problems with mine (mine's a 1977) that I finally upgraded to Motorcraft, which was the standard from 1979-1986. I little wiring, a $25 or so module, and a $50 re-manufactured distributor/ cap and plug wires/ coil and a ballast resistor. Not one problem since!

The problems I had (some several times) The teeny tiny distributor's Solid copper wires would break/ the mechanical advance inside it, the plastic would bind and it couldn't advance/ the mechanical advance spring would break/ The module was sure to die within a few months (I started keeping a spare in my Jeep)

End result- Dead in the water till I figgered it all out!

The solenoid also needs to be screwed down well for a good ground to the fender.

Below is a few pics of my solenoids (both my '77 and '46) and a wire diagram of the Motorcraft system

The Medic
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
+2
Sunday, June 11th, 2017 AT 8:38 PM
Tiny
CJCUBINSC
  • MEMBER
Just wanted to update on my progress. I took the old starter solenoid back and got a new one. Brought it back home and hooked it up and the Jeep started first time. One thing I did notice is that the ignition switch is sticking and is hard to turn off and on. Sometimes when it is still warming up and the choke is on and has it idling high I can turn it off and take the key out and it will continue to run but seems like only half of the cylinders are firing or something. Thinking about replacing the ignition switch next. Also I checked the volts and when it's idling high it's putting out about 16+ volts. Otherwise at regular idle it's 14.4 or so. Not real sure what that is all about.

Thanks to The Medic for helping me with this. We actually live in the same town. I realized it looking at some of your pictures. I don't know if you remember but I stopped by your work about 18 months ago with my Jeep and looked at yours and the top. My son and I still use yours as a goal for what we want ours to be like one day.

Thanks again
Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 12:08 AM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
I 'member that!

Here's something that should help you a bunch.

https://www.2carpros.com/questions/jeep-cj7-1985-jeep-cj7-stalls-when-hot

All you have to do is disregard the 304 V-8 portions.

Lemme know if it did help.

Should you ever need some one on one, you know where to find me.

The Medic

Was this
answer
helpful?
Yes
No
Friday, June 16th, 2017 AT 3:56 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Recommended Guides