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Jeep Cherokee Start Stall Idle Problems

My Cherokee has 150K, sometimes I need to jiggle the shift lever (3spd Automatic) just right to get it to crank. Do you think it's the neutral safety switch or a linkage adjustment? Anyone else ever experience the same problem? The problems tends to be worse when I do quick trips. Moe ( my cherokee's name) has been over the river and through the woods and around the block a few times. His still strong and I want to keep him Jeeping.


  • I have a 93 that's doing the same thing. Did you ever figure out what the problem was?
  • I'm still jiggling, I spoke to a mechanic and he says it's a problem with a switch thats mounted inside the tranny. His cost for the switch is about $300. I'm still researching it,there's got to be a cheap easy fix
  • It's funny how when I read these posts on here I have had the same problems that so many others have had. I could not get mine to start once so after a tow to the garage and a day of working on it the mechanic told me about the $300 dollar switch, but if you are looking for a cheap easy fix, my mechanic gave me one of those two. Just start it in neutral when it won't start in park. Basically the computer isn't sensing the tranny position properly, even though mechanically it's in park. This is kind of a generic fix, but if it's like mine is, it doesn't always fail to start, just on occasion. Bottom line is the only way to fix this, so I've been told, is to replace the switch. Mine is a heap anyway so I opted to do the neutral start instead.
  • I did the same thing for about two years. Sometimes the backup lights would work, sometimes they wouldn't. Sometimes it would start, sometimes it wouldn't. So, I would put it in neutral or push forward on the shifter in park and it would start. But, eventually it got to the point that it would take about twenty minutes of messing around to start it. Not a good thing if you want to be on time to work or wherever you are going. So, I took it to a garage and they told me about the neutral safety switch. I bought a new one on eBay for $120 (including shipping) and my brother-in-law and I changed it. It's actually not too hard to do, but the old one was goulded on and it the new one was tight and had to be forced on. But, now my reverse lights work and it starts every time.
  • Hey was the NSS mounted externally on the tranny or internal? Also, has anyone out there tried adjusting the shift linkage?
  • Johnny, could you pass on your eBay seller??? I'm in the same boat and will have to get a switch. I've had the exact same problem with my '92 Cherokee Laredo for a little over two years. Now it won't start in neutral or park. I haven't tried pushing the shifter forward in park, but I'm going to give that a shot in the short-term. It would be also be nice to have reverse lights again! I love my Jeep and am not ready to part with it! :-) Thanks for the eBay info!
  • By the way, it worked! :-) That is, pushing the shifter forward in park. Thanks for sharing that!
  • The NSS is mounted on the outside of the transmission on the passenger side. We had tried adjusting the shifting linkage but that didn't work. After taking the old one off, we did notice that there is some adjustment to the NSS itself. The top bolt allows for some adjustment but I'm not sure how much.
  • The eBay seller I used was: jeep_parts_4_less

    Here is a link to a switch like the one that I bought: _W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33727QQhashZitem270069467385QQihZ017QQitemZ270069467- 385QQtcZphoto

    If you aren't sure which one you need you can always send him an e-mail. He replied quickly to mine and the transaction was quick and simple.
  • I had the coil tested also had the ignition module tested the starter is 5 months old the starter relay is new the battery is new it was cranking but just wouldn't start can anyone help me out with this i don't want to get rid of my jeep just yet :sick:
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    Problem is in the Neutral Safety Switch (NSS) and can be repaired yourself if you are willing to give it a try.
    I have a downloadable zip file with the 'how-to' instructions on my Another Freakin' Jeep Cherokee Website. Look on the On-Site Tech index for that, or on the Downloads page. There are also links to some other sites with fixes for this on my Off-Site Tech index.

    You can also go to JeepsUnlimited or NAXJA (just google them up!) and head to the Cherokee Forums for first hand info from people who wrench these great vehicles every day!


    There is also a shifter interlock cable than can get out of adjustment but the reverse lights won't be killed with that.

    The AW4 is a 4 speed tranny.
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    Do you have the 4-cylinder or GM V-6? I'll gladly help you with what V-6 info I have but that motor and ignition system is pretty much 'generic' to any carbureted GM vehicle. (AMC was grabbing parts from anyone it could - in this case motors from GM.)
  • You may want to try for the NSS. I priced one for my 1997 JGC for less than $70.00 Not all that hard to install.
  • m151a2m151a2 Posts: 1
    My 93 Cherokee w/4.0 engine will not start. If I feather the throttle alot it may start at very high rpm's. I get no codes from it. I changed just about every sensor there is a year or so ago, even the computer at 110,000 miles, it now has 130,000 miles. I have 3 jeeps with the same 4.0 and never came across this problem.

    This is how it started. I bought a 99 Jeep and was selling the 93. I had it running so it would be nice and warm for the buyer I had comming over.
    Just as the sale was almost complete the Jeep dies out and has never ran again. All I did was leave it idling for about 20 minutes.

    Any ideas out there that I may try? The last thing I changed again was the crank sensor and that's not the problem. I was thinking possibly a elec short somewhere.
  • ginkodginkod Posts: 1
    Hi, I have a 2001 jeep cherokee sport. I'm experiencing a no start problem only on cold starts. I turn the the key and all the lights on the dash board kind of fade in and out and it wount even crank up(the starter does not turn). After a few tries it all goes back to normal and it starts fine. I've recently replaced the crank sensor thinking that was the issue but I'm experiencing the same problem. I've had the pcm scanned and it showed error P1698-NO BUS MESSAGE FROM TRANS CONTROL MODULE. I have no idea if that is related. The check engine light is not on.
  • astemastem Posts: 6
    Hello to all. I have a 2001 Sport and it's in great shape. No issues and no engine lights going on. New Battery about 4 months ago. This morning she just wouldn't start. Sounds strong when I hit the ignition, but just won't turn. I didn't see a code show up, but "no bus" did show. How seriuos is this, and what do I need to do to get her fixed. THANKS
  • tuggajbtuggajb Posts: 646
    sounds like starter relay it is in powre on right fender by battery should be labled

    also wiggle shifter try to start in nutral maybe safty start switch
  • timmer23timmer23 Posts: 24
    I had a Cherokee that sometimes wouldn't start in Park. I figured out that if I pressed forward on the shifter and turned the key, it would crank right up. It also had problems with the reverse lights not working.

    It wasn't until I had similar problems with my next Cherokee that I learned about the NSS. I bought one on eBay for $140 from jeeppartsking. My mechanic was surprised that I bought it so cheap. :)
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    If you are somewhat mechanically inclined, the NSS switches are very simple to rebuild. Hardest part is getting them off the tranny intact as they sometimes don't want to slide off the shaft they're mounted on. The actual rebuild process is a piece of cake.

    Crown Auto Parts (online seller) also has them at a reasonable price - like the ebay deal mentioned above, which is MUCH cheaper than dealership $$$$$.

    I have a couple of links to rebuild articles on my website's "Off-Site Tech" page as well as a downloadable "how to" zip file listed on my Downloads page. (There is a link to my site earlier in this thread.)

    Again, hardest part is actual removal of NSS from tranny... takes a couple of flat pry bars to GENTLY (and slightly) wiggle the thing loose and off the shaft. Takes a bit of acrobatics with the pry bar sizes & angles - think I used a large flat blade screwdriver & a flat pry bar that had the 'right' angle to get the thing moving.

    Be sure to mark the NSS location so you can easily reinstall it without too much fuss.

    There is also a brake safety interlock that can, but rarely, goes bad.
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    Sorry I missed this - have you tested the cam position sensor (located in the distributor)?

    Tons of other possibilites but if you just changed the crank sensor we'll assume that's ok for now...
  • jack87jack87 Posts: 1
    Came home backed up to the garage uphill & shut her day she will crank but will not start...any bus 5 seems to be in the mileage "window"
  • I have a 1996 JGC. Same problem. My car cranks but it will not start. This just happend this Monday morning. I drove it on Friday and let in my drive way over the weekend.
    My mechanic tried starting it up on neural but no luck.
    BTW: When I instered my key and none of my gauges will move.
    I have 145,000 miles on it.
  • My jeep has been down for 2 weeks with that exact same problem, i had the starter relay tested and it was good. I had the "No Bus" message in my odometer, and it would crank all day long, just no fire. Someone who looked at it told me it was the computer, have you heard anything else yet?
  • I have replaced the rotor, plugs, and wires, I have swapped out the ignition control module, and the distributor itself and they work in another jeep cherokee. All of the fusible links were tested and work. We also swapped out the main computer and it works in the other jeep. Does anybody have an idea of why it won't spark? Thank you
  • Hello,

    I have Cherokee jeep sport CDR 2003 with starting problem, it’s not possible to start the engine even, i try cranking attempts over 5 minutes with no result ( it’s not battery or starter problem the engine turn well ).

    But the engine run if i try to start with bushing the car (with 3 gearbox), it’s run will with good acceleration and i can go for many miles with no problems,but it did not run again if i stop the engine ,I changed fuel filter and recycle fuel cycle with no result , the car did not show any error message, any one here will have any idea where is the problem
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    Cranks but no spark?

    Have ya'll checked your Crankshaft Position Sensor, located on the bellhousing just behind the driver's side of the head?

    LINK Procedure for checking Crank position sensor. LINK (Page is focused on RENIX / non-HO engines but CPS test is the same for HO or RENIX motors.)

    After that - check the CAMshaft position sensor, located in the distributor. You can LIKELY disregard this in the case of the above post where the distributor was swapped. (Unless the distributor was dropped into the motor out of time w/ the engine.)

    CAMshaft position sensor diagnostics.
  • Hi- Have you figured out this problem? I have a 1995 Sport w/ 145,000 miles- ran great until 2 weeks won't start and sitting in my driveway!! The4 mech thinks perhaps the ignition coil? My greatest fear, as per this message board is that 1 week ago I bought a 2000 version and today got a 'NO BUS' message!!!! I hope I am not going to have TWO jeeps that won't start!!
    HELP! ANY advice appreciated!
  • I have a 1990 Jeep Cherokee Limited with, what was thought to be a transmission problem - this was checked and there is nothing wrong with the transmission.

    The vehicle starts after a lengthy crank time - sometimes idles very fast - sometimes normal. Once in gear and driving, the vehicle shifts from a lower gear to a higher gear, without any reason, then when coming to a stop the engine stalls, will turn over and start but again after a lengthy crank time.

    I've been told that the computer needs to be replaced as the engine is not advancing properly - to take care of the crank, idle and stalling issues – (I cannot find a 1990 computer for this car – any ideas). But this shifting problem is very troublesome.

    Any ideas on or experience with either of these problems and any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  • tuggajbtuggajb Posts: 646
    change the tps first
  • lunghdlunghd Posts: 61
    There are several possibilities but let's hit the easy ones first:

    All are common issues & you may have a combo of them.

    Throttle Position Sensor, located on throttle body. Sends signal to ECU (computer) to control fuel injection, some tranny input. Relatively easy to replace and adjust but requires a $5 digital volt meter from Harbor Freight, etc to set the voltages correctly. (This is likely causing the wierd shifting issue.) These things go whacky too if the ground connection / connector is oxidized. Running a ground jumper wire helps that immensely. (As well as checking your engine's ground strap from rear,driver side of head to firewall)

    Tranny kickdown cable, goes from throttle body to transmission & has an easy to do adjustment (no tools required) but I'd have to dig up my FSM (factory service manual) to give ya the details. I'll post a 'how to' article on my Jeep website as this is a fairly common question.

    Idle Air Controller, located in throttle body regulates idle speed. Easy to remove, clean w/ carb cleaner & replace.

    Vacuum leaks are EASY to check for: With the engine running 'rough' (when it's misbehaving) you can use a windex style bottle filled with water to squirt along the intake / exhaust manifold area where it bolts to the head. It is a fairly common occurance for the manifold bolts studs to loosen up over time. Do NOT overtighten these! The studs (front most & rear most) are especially prone to snapping off! Torque sequence is posted on my site.

    Rather than post all the tiny details here - check out this page at my website for the throttle body & idle speed controller info.

    Another Freakin' Jeep Cherokee Website - go to "On Site Tech" then "Engines" then "RENIX Sensors Diagnostics"

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