Jeep Cherokee (XJ): Diagnosis and testing

Distributor cap-2.5L engine

Remove the distributor cap and wipe it clean with a dry lint free cloth. Visually inspect the cap for cracks, carbon paths, broken towers or damaged rotor button (Fig. 8) or (Fig. 9). Also check for white deposits on the inside (caused by condensation entering the cap through cracks). Replace any cap that displays charred or eroded terminals. The machined surface of a terminal end (faces toward rotor) will indicate some evidence of erosion from normal operation.

Examine the terminal ends for evidence of mechanical interference with the rotor tip.

Fig. 8 Cap Inspection-External-Typical
Fig. 8 Cap Inspection-External-Typical

1 - BROKEN TOWER
2 - DISTRIBUTOR CAP
3 - CARBON PATH
4 - CRACK

Distributor rotor-2.5L engine

Visually inspect the rotor (Fig. 10) for cracks, evidence of corrosion or the effects of arcing on the metal tip. Also check for evidence of mechanical interference with the cap. Some charring is normal on the end of the metal tip. The silicone-dielectricvarnish- compound applied to the rotor tip for radio interference noise suppression, will appear charred.

This is normal. Do not remove the charred compound.

Test the spring for insufficient tension.

Replace a rotor that displays any of these adverse conditions.

Fig. 9 Cap Inspection-Internal-Typical
Fig. 9 Cap Inspection-Internal-Typical

1 - CHARRED OR ERODED TERMINALS
2 - WORN OR DAMAGED ROTOR BUTTON
3 - CARBON PATH

Fig. 10 Rotor Inspection-Typical
Fig. 10 Rotor Inspection-Typical

1 - INSUFFICIENT SPRING TENSION
2 - CRACKS
3 - EVIDENCE OF PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH CAP
4 - ROTOR TIP CORRODED

Spark plug cables

TESTING

Check the spark plug cable connections for good contact at the coil(s), distributor cap towers, and spark plugs. Terminals should be fully seated. The insulators should be in good condition and should fit tightly on the coil, distributor and spark plugs. Spark plug cables with insulators that are cracked or torn must be replaced.

Clean high voltage ignition cables with a cloth moistened with a non-flammable solvent. Wipe the cables dry. Check for brittle or cracked insulation.

When testing secondary cables for damage with an oscilloscope, follow the instructions of the equipment manufacturer.

If an oscilloscope is not available, spark plug cables may be tested as follows:

CAUTION: Do not leave any one spark plug cable disconnected for longer than necessary during testing.

This may cause possible heat damage to the catalytic converter. Total test time must not exceed ten minutes.

With the engine running, remove spark plug cable from spark plug (one at a time) and hold next to a good engine ground. If the cable and spark plug are in good condition, the engine rpm should drop and the engine will run poorly. If engine rpm does not drop, the cable and/or spark plug may not be operating properly and should be replaced. Also check engine cylinder compression.

With the engine not running, connect one end of a test probe to a good ground. Start the engine and run the other end of the test probe along the entire length of all spark plug cables. If cables are cracked or punctured, there will be a noticeable spark jump from the damaged area to the test probe. The cable running from the ignition coil to the distributor cap can be checked in the same manner. Cracked, damaged or faulty cables should be replaced with resistance type cable. This can be identified by the words ELECTRONIC SUPPRESSION printed on the cable jacket.

Use an ohmmeter to test for open circuits, excessive resistance or loose terminals. Remove the distributor cap from the distributor. Do not remove cables from cap. Remove cable from spark plug. Connect ohmmeter to spark plug terminal end of cable and to corresponding electrode in distributor cap. Resistance should be 250 to 1000 Ohms per inch of cable. If not, remove cable from distributor cap tower and connect ohmmeter to the terminal ends of cable. If resistance is not within specifications as found in the SPARK PLUG CABLE RESISTANCE chart, replace the cable. Test all spark plug cables in this manner.

SPARK PLUG CABLE RESISTANCE

SPARK PLUG CABLE RESISTANCE

To test ignition coil-to-distributor cap cable, do not remove the cable from the cap. Connect ohmmeter to rotor button (center contact) of distributor cap and terminal at ignition coil end of cable. If resistance is not within specifications as found in the Spark Plug Cable Resistance chart, remove the cable from the distributor cap. Connect the ohmmeter to the terminal ends of the cable. If resistance is not within specifications as found in the Spark Plug Cable Resistance chart, replace the cable. Inspect the ignition coil tower for cracks, burns or corrosion.

Spark plug conditions

NORMAL OPERATING

The few deposits present on the spark plug will probably be light tan or slightly gray in color. This is evident with most grades of commercial gasoline (Fig. 11). There will not be evidence of electrode burning. Gap growth will not average more than approximately 0.025 mm (.001 in) per 3200 km (2000 miles) of operation. Spark plugs that have normal wear can usually be cleaned, have the electrodes filed, have the gap set and then be installed.

Fig. 11 Normal Operation and Cold (Carbon) Fouling
Fig. 11 Normal Operation and Cold (Carbon) Fouling

1 - NORMAL
2 - DRY BLACK DEPOSITS
3 - COLD (CARBON) FOULING

Some fuel refiners in several areas of the United States have introduced a manganese additive (MMT) for unleaded fuel. During combustion, fuel with MMT causes the entire tip of the spark plug to be coated with a rust colored deposit. This rust color can be misdiagnosed as being caused by coolant in the combustion chamber. Spark plug performance may be affected by MMT deposits.

COLD FOULING/CARBON FOULING

Cold fouling is sometimes referred to as carbon fouling. The deposits that cause cold fouling are basically carbon (Fig. 11). A dry, black deposit on one or two plugs in a set may be caused by sticking valves or defective spark plug cables. Cold (carbon) fouling of the entire set of spark plugs may be caused by a clogged air cleaner element or repeated short operating times (short trips).

WET FOULING OR GAS FOULING

A spark plug coated with excessive wet fuel or oil is wet fouled. In older engines, worn piston rings, leaking valve guide seals or excessive cylinder wear can cause wet fouling. In new or recently overhauled engines, wet fouling may occur before break-in (normal oil control) is achieved. This condition can usually be resolved by cleaning and reinstalling the fouled plugs.

OIL OR ASH ENCRUSTED

If one or more spark plugs are oil or oil ash encrusted (Fig. 12), evaluate engine condition for the cause of oil entry into that particular combustion chamber.

Fig. 12 Oil or Ash Encrusted
Fig. 12 Oil or Ash Encrusted

ELECTRODE GAP BRIDGING

Electrode gap bridging may be traced to loose deposits in the combustion chamber. These deposits accumulate on the spark plugs during continuous stop-and-go driving. When the engine is suddenly subjected to a high torque load, deposits partially liquefy and bridge the gap between electrodes (Fig. 13).

This short circuits the electrodes. Spark plugs with electrode gap bridging can be cleaned using standard procedures.

Fig. 13 Electrode Gap Bridging
Fig. 13 Electrode Gap Bridging

1 - GROUND ELECTRODE
2 - DEPOSITS
3 - CENTER ELECTRODE

SCAVENGER DEPOSITS

Fuel scavenger deposits may be either white or yellow (Fig. 14). They may appear to be harmful, but this is a normal condition caused by chemical additives in certain fuels. These additives are designed to change the chemical nature of deposits and decrease spark plug misfire tendencies. Notice that accumulation on the ground electrode and shell area may be heavy, but the deposits are easily removed. Spark plugs with scavenger deposits can be considered normal in condition and can be cleaned using standard procedures.

Fig. 14 Scavenger Deposits
Fig. 14 Scavenger Deposits

1 - GROUND ELECTRODE COVERED WITH WHITE OR YELLOW DEPOSITS
2 - CENTER ELECTRODE

CHIPPED ELECTRODE INSULATOR

A chipped electrode insulator usually results from bending the center electrode while adjusting the spark plug electrode gap. Under certain conditions, severe detonation can also separate the insulator from the center electrode (Fig. 15). Spark plugs with this condition must be replaced.

Fig. 15 Chipped Electrode Insulator
Fig. 15 Chipped Electrode Insulator

1 - GROUND ELECTRODE
2 - CENTER ELECTRODE
3 - CHIPPED INSULATOR

PREIGNITION DAMAGE

Preignition damage is usually caused by excessive combustion chamber temperature. The center electrode dissolves first and the ground electrode dissolves somewhat latter (Fig. 16). Insulators appear relatively deposit free. Determine if the spark plug has the correct heat range rating for the engine.

Determine if ignition timing is over advanced or if other operating conditions are causing engine overheating.

(The heat range rating refers to the operating temperature of a particular type spark plug.

Spark plugs are designed to operate within specific temperature ranges. This depends upon the thickness and length of the center electrodes porcelain insulator.)

SPARK PLUG OVERHEATING

Overheating is indicated by a white or gray center electrode insulator that also appears blistered (Fig.

17). The increase in electrode gap will be considerably in excess of 0.001 inch per 2000 miles of operation.

This suggests that a plug with a cooler heat range rating should be used. Over advanced ignition timing, detonation and cooling system malfunctions can also cause spark plug overheating.

Ignition switch and key lock cylinder

ELECTRICAL DIAGNOSIS

For ignition switch electrical schematics, refer to Ignition Switch in Group 8W, Wiring Diagrams.

Fig. 16 Preignition Damage
Fig. 16 Preignition Damage

1 - GROUND ELECTRODE STARTING TO DISSOLVE
2 - CENTER ELECTRODE DISSOLVED

Fig. 17 Spark Plug Overheating
Fig. 17 Spark Plug Overheating

1 - BLISTERED WHITE OR GRAY COLORED INSULATOR

MECHANICAL DIAGNOSIS (KEY DIFFICULT TO ROTATE)

Vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission and a floor mounted shifter: a cable is used to connect the interlock device in the steering column assembly, to the transmission floor shift lever. This interlock device is used to lock the transmission shifter in the PARK position when the key lock cylinder is rotated to the LOCKED or ACCESSORY position. The interlock device within the steering column is not serviceable. If repair is necessary, the steering column assembly must be replaced.

Refer to Group 19, Steering for procedures.

If the ignition key is difficult to rotate to or from the LOCK or ACCESSORY position, it may not be the fault of the key cylinder or the steering column components. The brake transmission shift interlock cable may be out of adjustment. Refer to Brake Transmission Shift Interlock Cable Adjustment in Group 21, Transmissions for adjustment procedures.

Vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission and a steering column mounted shifter: an interlock device is located within the steering column.

This interlock device is used to lock the transmission shifter in the PARK position when the key lock cylinder is in the LOCKED or ACCESSORY position. If it is difficult to rotate the key to or from the LOCK or ACCESSORY position, the interlock device within the steering column may be defective.

This device is not serviceable. If repair is necessary, the steering column assembly must be replaced.

Refer to Group 19, Steering for procedures.

Vehicles equipped with a manual transmission and a floor mounted shifter: on certain models, a lever is located on the steering column behind the ignition key lock cylinder. The lever must be manually operated to allow rotation of the ignition key lock cylinder to the LOCK or ACCESSORY position.

If it is difficult to rotate the key to the LOCK or ACCESSORY position, the lever mechanism may be defective. This mechanism is not serviceable. If repair is necessary, the steering column assembly must be replaced. Refer to Group 19, Steering for procedures.

On other models, the ignition key cylinder must be depressed to allow it to be rotated into the LOCK or ACCESSORY position. If it is difficult to rotate the key to the LOCK or ACCESSORY position, the lock mechanism within the steering column may be defective.

This mechanism is not serviceable. If repair is necessary, the steering column assembly must be replaced. Refer to Group 19, Steering for procedures.

    Previous pageDescription and operation

    Ignition system DESCRIPTION Two different ignition systems are used. One type is used for the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. The other is used for the 4.0L 6-cylinder engine. OPERATION 2.5L 4-Cylinder E ...

    Other materials:

    General information
    Introduction Power windows are available as factory-installed optional equipment on this model. The power lock system and power mirror system are included on vehicles equipped with the power window option. Refer to 8W-60 - Power Windows in Group 8W - Wiring Diagrams for complete circuit descr ...