Aaaand I broke the Jeep.

Went up to the mesa and did my morning chores. There are two ways to get there: The long and easy way and the short, steep rocky way. I took the long way up but the short way down. I’m always concerned about the Bumpy Road (its actual name) because the Jeep isn’t young anymore and bits keep falling off. But I still had to do chicken chores at Landlady’s and check in on S&L’s place, and the Bumpy Road takes me right there.


Bad move. Should have gone around.

About halfway down the Bumpy Road the Jeep started dragging something. I found a relatively rock-free if not at all level place to get out and have a look…


Aw, crap. I’m pretty sure the front axle needs that strut, but it was just going to have to be all right. I rummaged around in the rear, already kicking myself ’cause I’d never packed a roll of wire. I did have plenty of rope in the Jeep kit but it was quicker (and I wouldn’t have to cut off a good piece of rope) if I just to grabbed one of the lengths that tie the shovel down…


The strut was shoved as far to the rear as it would go so I backed the Jeep till it faced front again, then tied it to the shock mount. The Jeep would either make it down the mountain without torquing the front axle or it wouldn’t.

Turns out it did, so I went ahead and paid my visit to S&L’s birds and plants and then drove to Landlady’s. Tended the chickens, and that’s when the Jeep decided it didn’t want to start. At all.

It’s been doing this for a couple of months now, not wanting to start hot. I chalked it up to vapor lock, and eventually I could always get it going. But not this morning. This morning it would not re-start. Back feels like it’s broken, front axle support is broken, and now there’s nothing to do but hike back home. At least a) the Jeep got me down the mountain, and b) it stopped raining.

I’ll go back around lunch to see if the engine starts after it cools down. If it won’t, I have a serious problem. That was the first of at least 24 trips that absolutely must be made across the plateau and up the mesa, no matter what. If the Jeep is really out of the game, I’m not sure I have a working alternative though a couple of stopgaps come to mind. I’ll worry about calling for help if the Jeep doesn’t start this afternoon.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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24 Responses to Aaaand I broke the Jeep.

  1. czechsix says:

    Well, crap. Might be time to break out the jumper cables, a couple of batteries and some coat hanger wire. What model year is the Jeep?

  2. Joel says:

    2001 Wrangler

  3. coloradohermit says:

    Well shit! Not a great start to any morning, let alone a working one. Fingers crossed.

  4. czechsix says:

    2001? Well, crap…..old enough to be a pain to work on, but not old enough to be easy to work on.

  5. Joel says:

    Not in the slightest. I can’t even find the spark plugs.

  6. Johno says:

    A can of Start, Ya Bastard! always sits in my possibles box. It has been bloody useful for reluctant engines that just don’t want to fire properly.

  7. Ben says:

    Joel, I had a car with one of those hot starting issues that turned out to be a heat sensitive ignition module. It took an entire year for the problem to get so bad that the engine would cut off in any situation that caused the underhood temp to rise beyond a certain point. You are coming into the winter months, so you probably have time to deal with that issue. Routinely raise the hood after you turn off the engine, to let the heat out so it will restart sooner.

    As you likely know better than me, the strut problem will require a welding shop or a body shop.

    Is there any chance that you can camp out at your “work” site to reduce the burden on the Jeep?

  8. Joel says:

    Is there any chance that you can camp out at your “work” site to reduce the burden on the Jeep?

    That’s the last option, yeah. I could get a ride up there this weekend hauling a bunch of food, books and my ‘pooter and hang out all week, depending on Neighbor S to tend the chickens. I will if I have to, of course.

  9. patrick fowler says:

    agree with Ben on the ignition module had same year laredo …turns over fine right just won’t start right …when it doe’s that check for spark with screwdriver in plug cap …you will probably need an assistent to turn engine over or dark night…Patrick

  10. Joel says:

    Patrick, it has at least some spark, and it has fuel pressure. More than that I do not know.

  11. patrick jay fowler says:

    Does it have spark when it won’t start ? Patrick

  12. Joel says:

    Patrick: yes, there’s spark when it won’t start. It tries but won’t catch. Best guess is that it’s flooding.

    Ben, the strut mount is broken off the axle but even if I had clamps I don’t think there’s enough there to get a purchase. In fact considering the condition of the welds I kind of suspect this has happened before.

    Claire, if I can get the Jeep to the foot of the mesa there’s a footpath with stairs. Not sure which would be most risky though: driving up and back down with the wounded axle or turning the hot engine off.

  13. Jay Ater says:

    If I was closer I’d fix that for ya. The nice thing about those mounts is that there really isn’t much in the way to get a welder in there. The rears take a lot longer. As for the no start, I’d start with a tuneup, plugs, cap and rotor.

  14. Jay Ater says:

    Wires too.

  15. Anonymous says:

    How long has it been on plugs cap rotor wires air filter injector cleaner ?

  16. Ben says:

    “most risky though: driving up and back down with the wounded axle or turning the hot engine off.” The problem is apparently heat, so reduce the problem by controlling under-hood heat as much as possible. When you shut off an engine the flow of cooling air stops, but the engine initially remains hot, So it gets hotter under the hood! You can open the hood as soon as you get out of the truck to keep that heat from being trapped inside the engine compartment. You can also avoid driving in the hottest part of the day.

  17. Joel says:

    How long has it been…

    Oh, forever. I hate working on engines and do it only under duress – which this is, I suppose. I bought a set of plugs for the engine ages ago but lost all enthusiasm when I learned that I literally couldn’t find where they were hidden.

  18. terrapod says:

    Pity we are thousands of miles apart, my shop has MIG, TIG, Stick and Oxy/Acetylene available. Yeah it looks like it came off the axle, an easy fix once you get to a shop and if need be any competent shop or even a blacksmith can make a new bracket for you.

  19. mattexian says:

    No idea about fixing Jeeps, but I had a similar problem with a 95 Chevy PU. Turned out to be a starter solenoid, getting stuck when hot. Major PITA when trying to run errands in a SE TX summer. The gods smiled on my dumb ass, as my dad was in town and spotted me crossing the street to the parts shoppe, and helped walk me thru diagnosing and repairing the truck.

  20. FDD says:

    Does anyone near you knows how to weld? looks like the welds broke on the drive shaft, maybe just needs to be welded back on. good luck my friend

  21. Paul Joat says:

    I think by 2001 they went to distributor less ignition with coils on the plugs, the plugs are on the right side of the engine under the coils. I wish I was closer, there is a good chance I have a complete axle that would swap in, but shipping from Minnesota would cost more than it’s worth.

  22. Ok what you are calling a strut is a shock absorber. 2001 Wrangler did not have struts. I am in Page AZ this week headed to Phoenix next week. I have my 120 volt wire welder with me. I could detour by your place on the way for a quick weld job on that mount if you wish. let me know. Also that shock looks trashed like maybe it froze in the extended position causing the exit of the mount from the axle. Good luck!

  23. Paul Joat says:

    Matt it’s a control arm, to hold the axle in position, I don’t think that a 120 volt welder is going to make enough heat to make a solid weld for that part.

  24. mbumgua says:

    I weld 3/8 plate with this welder all the time and I have been welding for 45 years so I think I could get a good weld on this!!

To the stake with the heretic!