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2009 Jeep Liberty Starting/Electrical Current Issues

I have a 2009 Jeep Liberty Sport 4X4 with 63,000 miles. There have been issues starting the car for about a year and a half.

It all started when a key was inserted into the ignition about a year and a half ago and a click would just be heard after the key was turned to the start position. Usually it started after the key was removed and inserted again. Sometimes it would take a few tries but most of the time it would start right up on the try one.

After 10 months, the battery was replaced after the vehicle had to be jump started. Shortly after, I had a Viper 5901 remote starter installed in the vehicle by a reputable store. The issue seemed to go away and thought the issue was fixed. The vehicle now was started from the remote control 90% of the time.

The issue started to become worse about 2 months ago. It would take more than 15 tries to start and to temporarily relieve the issue; it can be started on the 3rd or 4th try by rocking the vehicle. The starter was replaced two weeks ago by a reputable auto mechanic at my request. I went to a camp the day after for a week and most of the time it just sat in the hot sun except for short errands sporadically throughout the week.

I then went on a week vacation and the car sat in the driveway. I came back and the car didn’t have any power. The battery read 1.2 volts. It was jump started and then I went to work. At the end of the work day, I tried to start the vehicle and just heard the click. After rocking the vehicle, it started right up.

I was curious to why the battery was that low and so I hooked up a meter inline from the battery terminal to the disconnected red wire. Please find the results below:

-Entire top of the fuse box was removed of fuses, relays, etc. – read 0.20A empty – it sounded like the fuse box clicked when the circuit was completed. Not quite sure what was plugged in to draw that much current.

-The fuse box was reconstructed except for a few fuses – read 0.24A

-M13 fuse was connected and current increased to 0.64A (0.40A increase from previous)
M13 – 20A fuse for Cabin Compartment Node (CCN)/Wireless Control Module (WCM)/Multifunction Control Switch.

-M12 fuse was connected and current increased to 1.67A (1.03A increase from previous)
M12 - 30A fuse for Radio/Amplifier

-Viper fuse was connected and current increased to 1.73A (0.06A increase from previous)

I guess it come down to a few questions:

-What could be the reasoning the vehicle does not start consistently? Is it due to the battery or something else?

-What would draw a ¼ Amp without any visible connections on the top of the fuse box?

-Why would fuse M12 take so much current without a key in the ignition?

-Anything else I should look for?

Thank you!

Just because you haven’t had any answers yet, I’ll take a WILD stab here, but chances are that I’m way off. (BTW, that’s my disclaimer!)

Maybe a short in a solenoid or in a relay somewhere between the ignition, the starter, the battery, the fuel pump, even (?).

The reason I’d guess at a short is that the rocking seems to help, which may shift the car enough to re-establish an otherwise loose connection somewhere.

Hope that helps, but I’d also tell you to wait for other opinions on this one.

How much time elapsed between inserting the fuses and the readings you provided? If very soon, you may need to wait for the recently powered up circuit to wake up and then go back to sleep to get accurate parasitic drain readings.

I came back and the car didn’t have any power. The battery read 1.2 volts. It was jump started and then I went to work. At the end of the work day, I tried to start the vehicle and just heard the click.

When you severely deplete the battery, jump starting followed by even a moderate length trip in to work is not enough time to replenish the battery. It needs to be trickle charged by an external charger to properly restore the charge. What typically happens is you get into a pattern of degradation if not FULLY charged after an event like you describe. Especially one where the battery is essentially completely dead. Lead acid service batteries like the one in your car are considered fully discharged in the neighborhood of 11 volts. Discharged to 1.2 volts is often a death sentence, especially if it is not carefully recharged. A partial charge, then sitting, then a big drain to restart…you’re running a continuous deficit and this kills batteries as they prematurely sulfate. I would begin by properly recharging your battery before doing anything else or you may be just chasing your tail…

Anytime I hear that rocking solves a no-start condition, my first inclination is to suspect the neutral safety switch if it has one.

You are going to have to trace out the wiring to see where the connection to the battery is being made even though you had all the fuses were removed. There may be a wire going to the main battery cable at the starter end. Something is drawing a fair amount of current. Normal draw should be around 20 milliamps.

So far, I re-measured the current to the entire car in the off position. After about 30 seconds, the current dropped drastically and was fluctuating between 0.07A and 0.08A.

Right now the battery is connected to a charger. It started charging at 7.5A (on a 40A charger) then quickly dropped to float charge at 1.2A

Thank you for your suggestions and will see how this works out.

It sounds like the current draw settled down to where it should be after 30 seconds. If the battery was ‘dead’ when you hooked it to your charger, the behavior of the charger is pretty consistent with a bad battery–one that may look charged but has no capacity. Start with the basics—have the new battery tested. You could have gotten a bad one. You could easily have added a second variable to the problem if the ‘new’ battery is bad.

Once the battery has been ruled out, try starting it in neutral the next time the problem occurs. Also, how loud of a click do you hear when it won’t start? Do the lights and everything else still work at the time, or is the battery always dead?

Well, 70 milliamps may be ok. It still seems a little high to me but it may be within normal parameters for your car. I can’t say for sure. If the charge on the battery stays up enough so you can start the car after it has been parked for at least a couple of weeks then you should be good.

I charged the battery up all the way on August 1st. Yesterday I was driving to various places and would just click when trying to start in Park after leaving the car for more than an hour. The sound was minimal and can only be heard clearly if the window or the door is open - otherwise it is severely muffled and you have to know to listen for the sound. I tried a few more times and still nothing. It finally started on the first try after putting it into neutral. This happened a few times throughout the day. The lights did not dim while trying to start. Today, the car started on the first try each time.

It sounds like you are on the right track. The battery shouldn’t discharge to 1.2 v sitting just a week. Suggest the first thing to do, get a battery load test. Sears and other auto places often offers this for free. You need to verify your battery is a-ok. Then you need to verify the current drain when the key is in the “off” position and all the doors are closed, lights off, everything that can be off is off, is no more than 100 ma. 2- 20 ma is the more common range depending upon the car. But newer cars have more things taking power even when the key is off, so up to 100 ma may still be ok.

Next up, after the above, you need to determine if the clicking problem occurs with a fully charged battery. If so, that could be a variety of things, from battery lead corrosion to the neutral start switch (or clutch switch if a manual) to the ignition key switch to any relays involved in the starting operation. As said above, the fact that rocking helps, that leads to a suspicion about the neutral safety switch (or clutch switch). It’s about the only thing that could conceivably be changed by rocking the car. It’s also possible the new starter is bad. Just to make things complicated. I’m assumng the starter comes w/the selenoid. If the selenoid is separate, that should be checked. A bad ground could cause this too. The wiring (both power and ground) from the battery to the starter is usually check by doing a series of voltage drop tests.

It is sounding like the safety switch could be intermittent. Another trick you can do is move the shifter around in the Park position while trying to start the car in an effort to see if there may be a dirty switch connection. It that trick works then the safety switch has some dirty contacts.