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Discussion Starter #1
Under a different category, I started a thread that talks to my broken Starter. (See "No Starter") Unfortunately, Service managers are not what they used to be. After paying for the new starter on a 2 year old vehicle, I wanted to see if this was a common failure. I told the service manager that I was really upset since I off road my Commander and just two weeks ago was 8 or 9 miles out in the wilderness. "What would I have done if it failed to start while in the wilderness?" I asked.

Mgr response... Oh this is not all that uncommon, just crawl underneath and hit it with a hammer, he said. He went on to say that mud can splash up on the armature and cause the failure. This is when I kinda knew he was FOS. I had heard from others that American vehicles are prone to starter hangups and smacking it with a hammer is an effective emergency solution, but for the life of me I cannot see the starter.

Does anyone know if you can get to it from below? If you have a picture that would be fantastic.

KKKKFL
 

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I do not have a picture to help you but what I can say is that the starter is connected to the engine and/or bell housing of the transmission. It is almost always on the bottom but may be up higher anywhere around the rear of the engine. If you still can't find it that may be your starter problem.....You don't have one at all! lol
 

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BigBlue?
Having been a Service Manager and Service Director as part of a looooong career, your story intriged me.
First, I'm at a loss as far as asking him what would you have done if this failure happened out on the trail.
If you are operating off the beaten path, you really should not be out there without other operators.
And, usually in the company of that brain trust, someone can assist/ tow/ get help.
By stating; Hammer shock the starter, I'm confident he believes, as I would, that your mechanical abilities are above the norm. Otherwise, you would not be off roading without other support vehicles.
So, that being said, I hope you will not continue to expose yourself to that type of situation.
Starters are starters. A high output electric motor. Its national heritage has nothing to do with its failure rate. Most live a very long service life, but failure happens. Sometimes they fail from outside sources [water from deep fording is most common] and sometimes just a mechanical failure. If a man built it, it will fail. Period!
Just a matter of when.
So, what I'm trying to say here is it's time to get a sevice manual so you can learn the layout of your vehicle. There are no labels on parts.
The knowledge will allow you to become more pro-active and less reactive to mechanical failure and allow you to maybe help someone else out of a jam.

So, what type of answer would you have considered more appropriate by the Service Manager in this situation?
I can't think of any other response.

To access the starter you must remove the shield below the engine. The starter is a 4 to 5 inch diameter cylindrical assembly oriented longways, fore and aft. It will have 3 wires attached. 1 of the three is the battery cable [large diameter] It is attached at the junction of engine and transmission.
Thats the best you can get without a manual.

Starter service life is determined by start cycles, not time.
Good luck!
Rob
 

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I think Its located at the lower left corner of the Engine ,,

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Nice answer... bottom line of this conversation, however, was that the service Mgr did not know that access to the starter on a Commander is IMPOSSIBLE without first removing the shield you describe.

Your points about off roading are well taken, and usually there are folks that are out on the back side of the mountain from time to time. On this particular occasion, they left and it was just myself and my two sons. We could have walked out, but its not something I would expect from a 2 year old vehicle. As you so eloquently point out its not the age its the number of starts... Well I own 4 vehicles, all foreign, with well over 100,000 miles, here's a brief description, 2002 Maxima, used daily since purchase, still on initial starter, 1992 Alfa Romeo, used less often, but was daily driver for a decade, still on initial starter, 1992 BMW 325i, Daily driver, over 100k still on first starter, Honda del Sol, over 100k daily driver still on initial starter motor... Ok I think you get the drift... If you read through the Jeep threads, you'll see that starter failure is not uncommon, yet all my foreign vehicles don't have the same problem.

Yea, stuff breaks, but for something TRAIL RATED, I expected essential stuff ( a starter on an auto transmission is critical) to be heavy duty and not prone to such a high failure rate.

As for the Svc Mgr telling me mud could get on the armature... please, as you state, there's a whole skid plate assembly in the way, and the Sealed unit is bolted such that mud is not going to enter the transmission. That's just weak and I'm not that simple.

KKKKFL
 

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Oh,
I absolutely agree on the mud thing. Real dumb response.
If we read every forum for every brand we will begin to feel as though nobody can build a reliable car.
Usually folks put only the bad news on line.
As long as I don't see the road littered with a certain brand vehicle I generally don't get too concerned about a failure pattern developing.
The Jeep uses a Denso [yep, Asian] starter, so I stand by my origin concept.

I too have several way over 100k and 1 over 200k cars/light truck [Blazer 1996] with original starters, so again, I still have not experienced any pattern failure.

I have considered the net a great source of information but that means it is also a great source of mis-information.

Usually, the more enthusiast type is here and we are sensitive to our chosen brand.
But.. we forget about the thousands of these that operate day in and out with no major failures.
By reading about more than a few failures of a particular component we fall into the trap of .........THEY ALL DO THAT. But in the back of my mind I know they dont.

My $.02 and more
..........Rob
 

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Good answers, robby.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bottom line, at least for me, is that the starter Denso, or otherwise is not up to the task of "Trail Rated" .

If you read through the Jeep threads, there are reports of starter failures at well under the 100k mark. Yes, forums report only problems, but this should not be one of them. My guess is that the starter the engineering department selected is too close to the edge given the compression of a 5 liter hemi. A starter is not all that complicated and although I'm just guessing, its pretty safe to say that 99.9% of the time the failure is due to one of the 16 seperate windings getting toasted. Banging with a hammer causes a jar that gets the brush to touch the next winding and away you go. Had Jeep selected a starter with heavier gauge windings, you would not see the failure. There's no way Jeep engineers are going to leak information as to design spces on starter motors as everyone would be calmmering to have theirs replaced under recall and that would cost the company a ton of money, but it sure would be nice to know if there was an improved starter that I could upgrade my 06 with. Given what happened, I don't trust the vehicle now... well maybe this year.

Is there any way of finding information on the replacement starter? Are there heavier windings in the new one? These are the insider questions I have. Unfortunately, the Dealer did not give me the old starter, so I cannot even inspect it and come to any conclusions.

KKKKFL
 

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jeep5253 said:
Good answers, robby.
I always like robby's answers, lots of useful information and good explanation ...

Thanks Rooby :)
 

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There was a time we actually [mechanics] rebuilt the starter ourselves. Then we could actually see what failed. If it needed an armature or bearings or brushes or whatever we could replace that component and send it on its way. Sadly, we've become a throw away society, so now, repair parts are not even available.
The odds are, the repairing dealer installed a Chrysler reman unit and returned yours to the supplier of same.
Nowadays, if a manufacturer sees enouph activity on a part number they will call back the failed component and investigate further. Sometimes a pattern begins to show and the component specification is modified to reduce failure potental.
If the component is modified, for the most part the end user [installer] will never know.
Relative to the recall type situation you mentioned, recalls only are for safety related failures. Although one could argue any component failure is a safety concern, a vehicle that wont start regardless of where its located, is not a safety related failure from our governments point of view.
Also regarding the starter itself. The hammer shock may or may not be effective. Sometimes, as you said, a good strike exposes the brush to a new spot on the armature. But more often it rattles the contact disc on the solenoid [integral] and allows a fresh contact point to finish the flow path to the brushes.

Good news was, all are well, the car is repaired, you had a warranty to limit your financial exposure.
Will it happen again? Of course it will. Not necessarily to you, but like we said, its a machine.

Good discussion!
Rob
 
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