Why won’t my 25-year-old Jeep start?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who can't solve his Jeep's starting issue.

View of a Jeep logo at a Chrysler dealer in Los Angeles on September 3, 2010.
–AFP PHOTO/Mark Ralston

Q. I recently purchased a 25-year-old Jeep with an electric plow to clear my driveway. The Jeep only has about 80,000 miles on it. I believe it was used for most of its life clearing a business parking lot. The problem is that sometimes it just won’t start. It acts like the battery is just about dead. Even with a jump start it still cranks really slowly, but eventually will fire up. So far I have replaced the battery and the starter. What am I missing? 

A. Considering the age of your Jeep and how it was used, I would suspect corrosion at the battery cables caused by winter salt and sand. The best test would be to perform a voltage drop test. This test will tell you if there is a poor connection to the starter and engine ground. Just looking at the battery cables will not always give you a good indication of what is happening electrically. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. E-mail your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.

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