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Jeep 1996 Cherokee SE not starting at times

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by vinny11950, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    When I turn the key, everything lights up in the dash, but the starter does not turn. It started happening last year on really cold nights, 20F. Then when it got warmer, it would start up.

    Sometimes when it didn't start, I would shift it into neutral and then back to park, and then it would start. Sometimes, this trick did not work.

    So I am not sure if it is the starter or the neutral safety switch.

    I went all summer with no problems until this morning when it was cold again, 40F, and the starter didn't turn. So I moved it to neutral and then park, and it started right up.

    Any ideas would be appreciated, as I don't want to start changing stuff without really knowing what is wrong. Thanks.

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  2. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    From what you describe I would replace the neut. safety switch. I have seen the starter relay take on water and freeze up also, once the temperature warms up it's fine.
    PapaDave likes this.
  3. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    +1.

    If the trick sometimes works, it has to be the trick holding you up.

    Matt
  4. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    Thank you, guys, I think you are correct. I will see how a fix it now.
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Will it start in neutral?

    My Grand Cherokee does that. I never bother to mess with it, been like that for almost 10 years.
  6. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    that's the thing, sometimes nothing gets it going. not even neutral. but if i leave it alone for a while and come back to it, it is fine.
  7. hilbiliarkiboi

    hilbiliarkiboi Member

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    My horn has a relay that closes @ about 31°F.
    Central valley California, circa. 2001- cops show up about 3am ,
    I pull the relay, then they tell me I'm parked in the wrong direction.
  8. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    If the trick sometimes works, it might not be the mechanism of your problem. It sounds like not enough current is making it to the starter to turn it over. You may need a battery or have a bad connection. Clean the terminals and inspect the main wires coming off the battery for corrosion. Have your battery tested. Any of the chain auto parts stores will probably do this for free.
  9. festerw

    festerw Member

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    Neutral safety switch for sure, it's a common problem on the Cherokees.
  10. CTguy9230

    CTguy9230 Feeling the Heat

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    its the starter hands down

    my wrangler was doing the same thing..next time it does it, tap on the end of the starter with a hammer
    it should spin right over like new..if it does, time to replace it cuz its on borrowed time
  11. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Before shotgun troubleshooting do a voltage drop test from battery to solenoid and solenoid to starter. Check all grounds and hots.
    MasterMech likes this.
  12. festerw

    festerw Member

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    Different animal if his is a 4.0 the AW4 transmission is notorious for NSS failures, the park to neutral sometimes working is a big red flag as long as the starter isn't even clicking in either gear.
  13. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    thanks for the responses, guys, really appreciate it, as i don't know much about cars.

    i am leaning to the NSS just because the alternator is only 3 years old with not much use. but i will try the hammer trick too.

    i just need to find the time. work has been really busy. plus i am not using it much because of the gasoline shortage here in NYC.
  14. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    The 1st thing I would check is for corrosion on the battery terminals. I would be very careful hitting a starter with a hammer. It was ok on the old ones, but can harm newer ones. The solenoid is probably in the starter. My bet is that it's the starter.
  15. festerw

    festerw Member

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    One other thing I forgot, when it won't start in either position put it in reverse and see if your backup lights come on, if they don't put another check towards the NSS.
  16. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    wire lead from battery to starter is shot at the the point it attaches to the starter, begin there.
  17. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    A trick that I have used in the past is to hold the key in the start position and slowly pull the shifter from Park to Neutral. If you get any kind of clicking look close at the neutral switch & connectors.
  18. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Nate is right on in his post. Electrical troubleshooting is only sucessful if done in a logical, step by step manner, eliminating each component of the circuit one by one. Since the NSS seems to be a common failure, get a schematic, figure out how the switch works, and check it with a multimeter/test light. Also, the problem can be quickly isolated to the starting circuit or the safety circuit(s) quickly by applying 12V to the trigger terminal on the solenoid (small wire). If it cranks, then it's in the safety/ignition switch circuit, if not, then the battery/cables/solenoid/starter/grounds are suspect.
  19. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    the info keeps coming in. you guys are great. thank you.

    as for me actually doing any of the work, well, a Nor'easter is moving in today and we are still dealing with a gasoline shortage around here....

    at least i don't have to start the car!

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