1990 Wrangler Sahara ...total loss? (read what happened)

Asked by Mar 10, 2013 at 02:58 PM about the 1994 Jeep Wrangler Sahara

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

First time jeep owner as of 4 weeks go

bought it used...91k miles

its turned on and always idled high.

will go up to 25 mph no foot on gas whatsoever.

first 15 minutes i have to ride the break

stationary yesterday with jeep in park but engine on..it revved so high and loud....something started to smell burning....

i drove it 2 miles to a dead end.

turned engine off

entire jeep shook and jumped as if the engine area wanted out of the hood.

i got out.....

the underneath the chassie started looking lit up....and sure enough within 4 minutes a small flame...which burned (small fire...no idea how) for about 5 mins

i called the fire dept and they were there in no time but by the time they showed up the fire out....

wouldn't start.

i had a tow company tow it to a mechanice one of the firemen recommended.

being the weekend, i dont know the mechanic's verdict yet.

i'm new to this town and haven't ever owned a jeep before.


what could be wrong....

also.....was told to put gas in when the gas gauge shows 1/2 empty.

i did this once. it cost $48.

The second time I needed gas, I let it slip past the 1/2 full to about 3/4 empty.

that time the fill up cost $72.

possible leaking gas and hot engine caused the underbelly small fire?

frieked me out.

I"ve owned it 4 week. Bought it for $3800

total loss? repairable? any feedback much appreciated.

Tre ~

15 Answers


Scrap it

Hi thanks for andwering...What do you mean by scrap it...ad how?


Alright will admit "Scrap it" might have been a little harsh. If you turn your key on and listen closely you should be able to here the fuel pump build up pressure then stop. While leaving the key on sit there awhile and listen to see if the fuel pump goes on then shuts off again. If it does its telling you that something is leaking pressure that shouldn't be. Like a pin hole in your fuel line probably nearby where you had the small fire. Only a guess though.

Best Answer

gotcha... right now its 5 miles away at a maintainance garage in their parking lot and i dropped the key in the box. its the best i knew last night to do and thus only involved one tow. no idea if these mechanics will not want to waste their time. i wish i knew what it needed to be fixxed and if that's worth it... but what you're saying makes sense. i was told not to let the fuel go below half empty and i did once and then the cost to fill the tank was almost double what it cost originally. so something is leaking. what's disturbing is i had a mechanic check it thorough and paid a 'overall' dianosis one month ago to gimme a green light that it was operating fine. much that i should have asked i didnt. but i didn't really know what to ask... i'll write more when i hear back from the mechanic but i'm hoping to find someone who digs working on jeeps (i'm in Marathon in the florida keys) who would be able to say can fix or no and how.... did you say scrap it b/c once something catches fire it's unsalvageable?


I don't know how big fire was. Should be fixable. If fire was kinda big and on the engine it can take some of the Temper out of metal. Make things brittle and weak and unsafe. If it is a fuel line they are a little spendy for what they are. And they won't want to patch it for liability reasons because there is pretty good pressure in them. Another thing maybe you had oily buildup that burned then burned out. I would fix just one problem at a time nomatter what they say

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

so helpful just to hear your perspective. do you fix/repair and own one? i've wanted one 20 yrs. finally took a leap b/c i'm in the midst of figuring out if i'm gonna move / live full time down here. love how they ride. love the visibility. fire was under car... under passenger seat area but underneath...where pipes are.... when you say 'on engine'...fire was not under hood. unless it was and i just saw the remnant...but i saw small flame and smoke and bent down under passenger seat area underneath jeep chassy..that's where it was.... with you 100% about fix one thing atta time. one thing i neglected to mention....earlier in the week i left the lights on. i promise i'm not a dumb blonde but yeah, i drove up US1 and you're supposed to keep your headlights on..even during day. not used to turning them off separate. and not used to lights during day. two hours later battery was dead. i replaced the battery...local Auto Advantage...any possible change what the guy did to put the new battery in --any of that wiring -- would have impacted ? firemen said battery wasn't hooked up wrong. but b/c there's been a constant revving up (idle?) as soon as you turn jeep on and because it sat and smelled like something was burning while it was revving... yeah i think it's an engine thing... will keep you posted. thank you so much...just helpful to back and forth. looking ahead. if it's costly to repair...holler bout better way to find a safe good used one... tre


Tre feel sorry for you and your bad luck, keep me posted on the situation, I am curious to see how things pan out.


Usually a high idle like that is a vacuum leak. The noise & shaking when you shut it off is called dieseling. This is caused by the high idle. The fire was probably caused by either misrouted wires after the battery was replaced or an overheated exhaust manifold which ignited wiring close by. What I'd do is try & get it running & see why it's idling so high. Check for missing, disconnected, or misrouted vacuum hoses. Check your IAC (Idle Air Control Valve). Check your throttle cable, linkage, and accelerator pedal for binding or sticking. HTH. -Jim

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

wow thank you so much for this thoroughly thought out and outlined case scenario. Since I have no clue how to do the repair, i will advise the mechanics what you're recommending. i will report back here what they recommend... the difficult thing for me to assess is how to know when i'm throwing good money at bad money..make sense? but i want a functioning safe jeep... and i'm hoping it's more salvageable than not.


You're welcome. Yes, please let us know how you make out. Hope it's good news!! -Jim

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

what did it end up being


My 89 Wrangler had the same issue of idling high. It was the idle motor sensor. I think it was about $50 at Auto Zone. It took just a few minutes to change out and now idles smooth as silk.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thank you all. I ended up repairing almost everything with this jeep. And now I am ready to sell her. Where do you recommend is best place to assess value of a 1990 Sahara 99k miles v6 hardtop //new transmission fuel pump battery starter all suspension redone new brakes shocks belts etc. And brand new freezing cold air conditioning Am fm radio original Automatic steering Here's my craiglist ad http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/cto/ 4555697884.html

http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/cto/ 4555697884.html


Regional assessments are best NADAGUIDES is your best source for finding the value in your area! (KBB) Kelly Blue Book and others like this are more prone to averaging their values and can skew your assessment! Use NADAGUIDES do a google search to find them on web!

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