Jeep Grand Cherokee Intermittent Starting Problem

You’re facing the frustrating Jeep Grand Cherokee intermittent starting snag, a puzzling problem that prevents your SUV from firing up reliably. Imagine you’re ready to hit the road, but your Grand Cherokee has other plans, leaving you with a silent engine and a sense of uncertainty.

This issue might strike without warning, leaving you guessing whether it’s a simple battery blip or a complex electronic enigma. You’ll need to check the usual culprits, such as the battery’s health, the starter motor’s condition, and the integrity of electrical connections.

Delving deeper, you might scrutinize the fuel system, ensuring pressure is proper and components like the fuel pump are performing. If the alternator’s acting up, it could also contribute to the inconsistency.

Unfortunately, this intermittent issue is as unpredictable as it is inconvenient, and you aren’t alone in your quest for a solution.

Key Takeaways

  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee may experience unexpected refusal to turn over, especially when the wheels are angled to the right.
  • Common causes of intermittent starting issues include faults in the spark circuitry or power distribution, corrosion or looseness in the battery cables, and possible malfunctions in the transmission range sensor or neutral safety switch.
  • Inspecting the battery by testing its voltage, checking for corrosion on the cables, and cleaning the connections can help identify and address starting problems.
  • Other potential causes of intermittent starting issues include a failing starter motor, problems with fuel system components such as fuel pressure and anti-backflow valves, and issues with the alternator. Professional diagnosis and regular maintenance are important for accurate identification and effective solutions.

Identifying Common Symptoms

Your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s intermittent starting issue may manifest as an unexpected refusal to turn over, particularly when the wheels are angled to the right. This peculiar symptom suggests a connection between the steering geometry and the ignition process.

When you insert the key and attempt to turn the key, the engine mightn’t respond, which indicates a potential fault in the spark circuitry or a compromised connection in the power distribution, such as the TIPM.

To troubleshoot, you should initially examine the battery cables for corrosion or looseness, ensuring a solid electrical foundation.

If the issue persists, manipulating the vehicle into neutral and nudging it might temporarily rectify the problem, pointing towards a possible transmission range sensor or neutral safety switch malfunction.

Inspecting the Battery

You’ll need to begin by testing the battery voltage using a multimeter. This will confirm whether the battery maintains the necessary charge for starting your Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Next, examine the battery cables for any signs of corrosion. Corrosion can impede current flow and lead to intermittent starting issues. If you find corrosion, use pliers to clean the connections thoroughly. This will ensure optimal conductivity for your vehicle’s starting system.

Battery Voltage Test

Before attempting to troubleshoot your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s intermittent starting problem, it’s essential to check the battery voltage with a multimeter to determine if the battery is the culprit.

Accurately set your multimeter to measure voltage above 12 volts, and connect the probes to the corresponding battery terminals—red to positive and black to negative.

A healthy battery should register around 12.6 volts. Significant deviations suggest a drained or failing battery, potentially triggering the starter relay inconsistently and contributing to the intermittent starting problem.

If the voltage reads low, a jump start or battery booster may temporarily remedy the issue, allowing you to start the vehicle. However, if problems persist, inspect the battery cables for corrosion that can impede current flow.

Ultimately, to resolve starting failures, you might have to replace the starter after ensuring the battery is faultless.

Corrosion Check

Inspecting your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s battery for corrosion is a critical step in diagnosing intermittent starting issues. A thorough corrosion check can reveal hidden problems that may impair the starter’s function.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • *Perform a visual inspection*:
  • Look for white, green, or blue powdery deposits on the terminals.
  • Examine the battery posts for signs of corrosion damage.
  • *Clean the affected areas*:
  • Use a battery terminal brush to scrub off corrosion.
  • Apply a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize acid buildup.

Testing the Starter Motor

You’ll first want to recognize the symptoms of a failing starter motor, which can include a clicking sound without the engine turning over or a slow cranking speed.

Perform a voltage drop test to ensure that the starter motor is receiving the correct voltage during ignition.

Additionally, verify solenoid engagement to determine if the issue lies with the starter motor itself or with its electrical connections.

Starter Motor Symptoms

If your Jeep Grand Cherokee is showing any signs of a faulty starter motor, it’s crucial to test its functionality immediately. Recognizing starter motor symptoms is key to diagnosing the issue. When you try starting your vehicle, observe if:

  • The engine doesn’t turn over, despite a healthy battery.
  • There’s a clicking sound without the engine starting.

To test the starter motor:

  • Check for voltage at the starter when the key is in the START position.
  • Use a multimeter to measure voltage.
  • Confirm it matches the required specifications.
  • Shift from Park to Neutral to see if it affects the issue.
  • If it starts the engine in Neutral but not in Park, the neutral safety switch may be the culprit.

Consult a repair manual for further diagnostic procedures.

Voltage Drop Test

To effectively pinpoint the issue with your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s starter motor, conduct a voltage drop test to ensure the electrical current is reaching the starter with sufficient power. This diagnostic procedure checks for excessive resistance that might be causing the starting problem.

Attach your voltmeter’s negative lead to the battery’s negative post. Then, connect the positive lead to the starter motor’s positive terminal. Have someone turn the key to START while you observe the reading. A healthy system should show less than a 0.5-volt drop. If the drop is higher, there’s a resistance issue in the circuit.

Remember, this test bypasses other potential culprits like the fuel pump; its purpose is to isolate starter-related electrical concerns.

For comprehensive troubleshooting, consult a detailed repair manual and retrieve any stored codes from AutoZone.

Solenoid Engagement Check

Check your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s starter solenoid engagement by listening for a distinct click as you turn the ignition key to the START position. This sound indicates that the solenoid is attempting to engage the starter motor, which is essential for diagnosing the intermittent starting problem.

If you don’t hear the click:

  • Ensure the battery is fully charged and delivering proper voltage.
  • Check the starter relay and consider replacing it if it’s defective.

If you hear the click but the engine doesn’t start:

  • Perform a voltage drop test to identify any excessive resistance.
  • Inspect the wiring to the starter motor for corrosion or damage.

Conducting a solenoid engagement check is a critical step in troubleshooting your Grand Cherokee’s starting issues.

Checking Electrical Connections

Begin your troubleshooting by examining the electrical connections to the starter, ensuring they’re secure and free of corrosion. If you notice a warning light on your dash or experience issues with your key fob, these can be symptoms of faulty electrical connections.

Use a multimeter to verify the voltage to the starter when the key is turned to the START position. This will confirm whether the electrical path is intact.

Here’s a quick reference table for the connections you should check:

Connection PointWhat to Look For
Battery CablesCorrosion, tightness
Starter RelaySecure fittings, no damage
NSSClean contacts, proper engagement

Ensure each connection is clean, tight, and shows no signs of wear or damage. A meticulous check can resolve intermittent starting issues by ensuring the electrical system’s integrity.

Evaluating Fuel System Components

After examining the electrical components, turn your attention to the fuel system, ensuring it’s properly pressurized and free from leaks. Fuel system components can go bad, causing starting issues. Here’s what to check:

  • Fuel Pressure
  • Verify pressure in the fuel rail with a gauge.
  • Observe if pressure drops significantly after the vehicle sits.
  • Fuel Pump and Check Valve
  • Perform a leak-down test to detect a faulty anti-backflow valve.
  • Listen for the pump to re-pressurize the system when activating the ignition without starting.

These steps are crucial for diagnosing intermittent starting problems in your Jeep Grand Cherokee.

A well-maintained fuel system is key to reliable performance.

Troubleshooting the Alternator

Once you’ve ensured your fuel system is up to par, it’s time to turn your attention to the alternator, a crucial component that could be behind your Grand Cherokee’s starting woes.

Begin troubleshooting the alternator by checking the voltage to the starter when the key is in the START position. If the voltage is insufficient, this could be why your Jeep Grand Cherokee would sometimes fail to start.

  • Should you suspect the alternator is faulty, consider replacing the battery as well.
  • Get an OBDII scanner to diagnose the alternator’s health accurately.
  • For a comprehensive assessment, testing the alternator at Autozone can provide a more precise evaluation.
  • Lastly, seeking advice from Jeep Certified Master Techs can offer expert solutions for alternator-related issues.


In conclusion, you’ve systematically ruled out potential culprits behind your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s intermittent starting issue. Ensure your battery’s vitality, starter motor’s responsiveness, and electrical connections’ integrity.

Scrutinize your fuel system for pressure inconsistencies. If the alternator is suspect, test its output.

Persistent problems, despite these steps, suggest a deeper electronic or mechanical fault. Consult a specialized mechanic for a thorough diagnostic to isolate and rectify the elusive cause of your starting woes.

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