Jeep will not start

I’ve got a 94 Jeep Cherokee that will not start. I suspect a short somewhere but don’t know. The story is long winded but I think there are pertinent clues in the details…

Two weeks ago I drove to work and everything seemed normal. As I started the Jeep to leave that afternoon everything seemed normal. However, when I turned the key the starter cranked once and then I abruptly lost all power. No lights, no buzzers, nothing. I tried jumping the battery. A few of the panel lights came on dimly and slowly pulsed, but that’s it. There was not enough power to do anything else

I tried replacing the battery. After the new battery was installed, full power seemed to be back. All panel lights worked, the dome, the radio and door buzzer worked. But when I turned the key the exact same thing happened: the starter cranked one and everything went dead. I’d appreciate any thoughts on this.


There is a dead electrical short created when you turned the ignition key to start. The short could be in the starter solenoid on top of the starter, in the large wire from the solenoid to the starter motor, or inside the starter motor. Check the wiring or change the starter. This should be a “piece of cake” diagnosis for any mechanic.

I think there’s corrosion or a loose cable or connection in the wiring to the battery. Also check the ground strap(s) from the engine to the body.

Clean the battery cable connections and posts using a post cleaning brush. Hopefully that is all it is, just a dirty connection to the battery. If that doesn’t help then check the power getting to the fuse panel under the hood. If that is good then check the ignition circuit and switch for trouble. You might clean the chassis ground connections also.