1989 Jeep Wrangler Runs Rough and Smells of Raw Gas — Why?

Reader Question
Austin, I recently bought a Jeep Wrangler (89) for my Uncle. He stepped in when My father abandoned us. He always drove Jeeps, his first that I remember was a WWII vintage, and he had a Scout Phase in the early 60’s too.

But I always wanted to buy him an old Jeep to thank him for all he did for me growing up. So, I bought one on ebay in Etna WY. We flew from Portland to Idaho Falls, picked it up in a snow storm and drove 800+mile back to Portland. Along the way we broke down, used duck tape, got pulled over 2 times by State Troopers, met and Angel who helped us, and lots of other rich experiences. It was great, and all for a Sweet Uncle. But the guy who sold it wasn’t up front with us on the mechanical condition of the Jeep.

The Jeep ran rough the entire time, and now that I’m home, I’ve spent close to $1000 trying to get it running well. It has a very rough idle, smells of unburned fuel, white smoke, and seems to run a bit better at higher speeds. But, the surging at lower speeds can jar your fillings out!

This is what I have done:

New, fuel filter

New air cleaner

tune up

spark plug wires

head gasket

all fluids changed

pcv changed

Fuel pump new today

carb cleaner

gas RX

starter motor

And the mechanics still can get it to run smooth, and not surge…Your 258 Carter BBD Idle Problem page I have saved. It sounds like that might be the problem. I’m not mechanical and could use some feed back.

We want to present the Jeep to my Uncle Pat on St. Patrick’s day with a big Green bow tied on the spare tire. But it is running too poorly to present to him at this time.
Any thoughts?, Patrick

Hi There Patrick

I love your story BTW…..how nice of you!!

The first thing I would do it take a compression test of the engine and see if all cylinders are the same. I have a gut feeling you have a lack of compression problem in one or more of the cylinders. Could be a head or valve problem or something worse.

Your mechanic should be able to rule this out with a compression test gauge.

A vacuum leak can also do the same symptoms….so make sure you do not hear a hissing noise under the hood somewhere, a rubber hose, or an intake gasket leak.

The new Jeep Wrangler..they are ok for what they are, I am not a Jeep guy so it is hard for me to get excited about em. Ford F150 is my speed. Hahahah

Keep me posted will ya?
Austin Davis

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