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How to Tell if the Starter Needs to be Replaced in a 2004 Jeep Liberty

by Don Bowman

Diagnosing a starter problem on a 2004 Jeep Liberty is not difficult. The fuse and relay for the starter are located on the driver’s side fenderwell in the electrical component box. Under the box’s lid is a diagram depicting the type and location of the fuse and relay for the starter. The starter is located on the driver’s side of the engine midway between the oil pan and the intake manifold bolted to the bellhousing.

1

Lift the hood and check the battery terminal connections for cracking, looseness or corrosion. If any of these situations exist, correct them and re-try the starter.

2

Check the battery cable to the starter solenoid. This is the large red battery feed to the top post on the starter solenoid on top of the starter. Grab the cable and see if it is tight on the solenoid post. Check the cable for any visible corrosion. Replace the cable if any exists.

3

Check the battery for charge and bad cells with the voltmeter. Place the meter on the 20-volt scale. Place the black lead on the negative battery terminal and the red lead on the positive. A fully charged battery will display 12.5 to 12.7 volts. Have a helper attempt to start the engine while you observe the voltmeter. If the voltage drops below 10.5 volts while cranking, the battery has a bad cell and must be replaced. If the battery has less than 12.5 before attempting to start the engine, the battery is discharged and must be charged to check it thoroughly. It is possible the alternator is defective and not charging properly. When the battery is charged, start the engine and watch the voltmeter. A good alternator will display 13.5 to 14.5 volts. If the voltage is less, the alternator is faulty. If the alternator is working properly and the battery was discharged, check for a draw or short in the wiring.

4

Check the voltage at the starter solenoid. Connect the black lead to a good ground, and use the red lead to probe the large positive cable on the starter. If battery voltage is present the cable is good. If less than battery voltage is present replace the cable.

5

Check the small wire on the solenoid, which is the actuating power from the ignition switch. Pull this wire off and insert the probe into the small wire connector. Have a helper turn the key to the “start” position. Power should be displayed when the key is in the “start” position only. If there is power and the starter fails to operate replace the starter. If there is no power, check the fuse and relay. If they are good the ignition switch is bad.

6

Check the starter for dragging or struggling to turn the engine over. Replace the starter if it displays this type of action. If the starter clicks many times before starting or just clicks with no motor activation, replace the starter. If the starter spins and doesn’t start the engine, the Bendix is bad and a new starter is the answer.

Items you will need

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).

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