My jeep is not running at the moment. I took it in for service a few weeks ago before I left for Italy. I had them do an oil & filter change, lube the front end and the whole chassis, and asked them to degrease/power wash the engine compartment so I could maybe see where the oil leak was coming from. As it turned out, I was correct and it's just a valve cover gasket. No biggie. I can replace that one of these weekends.
When I picked it up, the engine started slower than usual. Mental note. The next day I drove the jeep to the supermarket and it started slower, and then slower on the way home. I drove around for awhile with my eye on the alternator gauge which showed it was putting out 14 volts. Normal.
That night I went to Legendz to watch the hockey game and it started slower and seemed to struggle to spin the flywheel. I stopped at the Esso to pump up the slow leak in the left rear tire and had to shut off the engine because it wouldn't stay still. In hindsight I could have just set the parking brake :) It was REALLY slow to start after that. Finally when the game was over and I left for home, it gave up the ghost and stopped turning over. I couldn't figure out what was going on, because the dome light and headlights were bright, the seat belt buzzer sounded normal and the radio played normally. When I turned the key, nothing. I was able to push-start it and get home where I parked it and where it's stayed since then.
I didn't think the battery was suspect, but after getting back from Italy, we put the load tester on the battery and it checked out OK. Because the alternator was putting out 14 volts, IT was ok, it had to have been the starter itself, and something electrical. We checked all the connections for corrosion, and everything SEEMED to be ok. The next thing to do was drop the starter out and see if it needed rebuilding or replacing, and hopefully not the wiring.
I was all set to do that last Saturday. I hadn't crawled around the engine compartment and gotten dirty in awhile and was looking forward to doing something constructive with my weekend. I thought I would drop the starter out, do some tests on it and then if I needed parts I could go down to Parker's on my scooter and get them, come back install the new parts and then have a beer or six.
Instead, I spent last saturday either in bed or on the couch. It had been less than 48 hours after my scooter accident and I was having trouble just moving around, never mind crawling underneath my jeep. I put it off and put it off, John helped out by doing a few tests on the battery and whatnot for me during the week while I was at work to narrow down what the problem was. Today I decided I was well enough to crawl under the Jeep and get the starter out. I wasn't sure if I could put it back in, what with my ribs as sore as they are still, but I was going to give it a try.
I went out there with some tools and disconnected the ground on the battery and then for good measure, disconnected the positive terminal as well, to check for corrosion. Then I layed down on the ground and tried to wriggle under the jeep... ow... not good... I managed to get the power and ground disconnected from the starter itself, but that was as far as I could push the pain threshold. I couldn't hold both arms up at the same time without causing gasps of pain, so I had to leave it like that.
As I was laying there under the jeep, breathing shallow so it didn't hurt and trying to figure out how I'm going to get this fixed as I'm in no condition to push start a Jeep Wrangler on my own at the moment. I had the morbid thoughts of 'this is how old people must feel when they try to do something they've always done and then realize they just can't do it anymore.. no wonder old people drink so much"
So I cleaned the tools I used, cleaned myself up, poured myself a drink (hey it's five o'clock in Europe already) and downed a couple Advils and laid down on the couch for awhile. I think it was the combination of being in pain and not being able to work on my Jeep ON my 34th birthday that brought on the old-age thoughts, but hey, it ended with a drink in my hand so it can't be that bad, can it?