I have a new-to-me Jeep Cherokee that had a pretty epic electrical problem last night as I left work. I fired it up, and as soon as I hit the clutch to put it in reverse, there was a horrendous metal grinding/whining sound from under the hood. My first thought was “oh no, my throwout bearing is toast,” but then I noticed that the parking brake light (which normally never turns on, even when the parking brake is on) is shining bright on the dash.
Put it in gear as the noise continues, but the clutch seems to be working fine. Only makes the death noise when i have the clutch all the way in. I noticed my lights dim every time I clutch in, too. I called some coworkers out to show them the problem, and one of them mentioned it sounds like the starter is engaging when I hit the clutch. (I think he might be on to something.)
I shut it off, fired it back up, parking brake light is dark and clutch doesn’t make the death sound. Drove home just fine, did not reoccur.
Anyone have any clue what this could be? Short in the ignition switch on the steering column is my only guess, but it’s just that, a guess.