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Starting Problem

The starter on our 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 5.7L Hemi engine doesn’t want to engage on the first attempt of most days. A relay in the dash clicks once with each key turn, and multiple warning icons and messages light up on the instrument panel including: Voltage Warning, Malfunction Indication, Air Bag, Oil Pressure, and Anti Skid icons; ESP and BAS lights; and cycling Check Gauges, Transmission Overtemp, and Service 4WD System messages. While in this condition, 4WD Low and Transfer Case neutral will not engage or disengage.

If you wait five minutes or so with the key on you will hear relay chattering in the engine compartment. Once the chattering stops the starter will engage and the vehicle will start. If you touch the relays while the chattering is going on, it appears to be the Fuel Pump Relay making the noise. On occasion, you can also hear a motor noise from the rear of the vehicle. After starting, the engine fan sometimes comes on at high speed, the transmission will only shift to R or 3rd gear, and the ESP & BAS warning lights will be on as will be the ESP/TCS warning icon. If you turn the engine off and restart it, the fan will be back to normal, the transmission will shift to D, and all of the warning lights, icons, and messages will be out. The vehicle will start normally for the rest of the day.

There is one other clue–We had the Jeep in low humidity western states this summer and had mostly normal starting for several weeks at a time. It has also started without a problem on low humidity days here in Lillington, NC and other normally high humidity areas.

This problem has been occurring since at least this past February. At first it happened intermittently and then would start normally for weeks at a time. The first couple of times the malfunction happened, cycling the transmission shifter seemed to clear the problem. Since then, cycling the shifter has had no effect. With the passage of time, the starting problem occurrence has become more frequent. Presently, it is a daily annoyance.

(1) I’m confused by part of your description. Normally, if you turn the key to the “run” position without cranking it, many of the warning lamps will come on because the engine is “on” but not running. In many cars, when you turn the key to crank position, all the warning lights come on as a bulb-check. Then the lights all go off when the engine is running. Is that what you are describing? Not that you don’t have a problem, but that the lights are not part of it.

(2) If you get it started and then drive for a while, and stop (such as running errands), when you return to the car is it just as likely to have a starting problem as when cold, or does it always start well when the engine is warm under the hood? If it always starts well when hot, then based on your other description, I would suspect cracked or loose wiring or a cracked distributor cap that is allowing moisture to get somewhere it shouldn’t. If this is the case, then you could reproduce the problem by (on a dry day when it starts well) wetting the wires inside of the engine compartment with a plant mister or spray bottle.

Thank you responding.

(1) Normally when I turn the key to the run position without continuing to the start position, all of the warning lights and messages go out after a brief time except the Oil Pressure Low Icon and the Check Engine Icon. I assume those two remain on because the engine is not running and there is no oil pressure.

When the key is subsequently turned to the start position and the starter fails to engage, then returned to the run position, all of the warning icons and messages listed in my first message remain on until: either I return the key to the off position, or (after a 5 or 10 minute wait) I succeed in starting the engine.

When the engine starts, all of the warning lights and icons extinguish except the ESP and BAS Warning Lights and the ESP/TCS Warning Icon. If I immediately turn the engine off and restart it these lights go out too. If I don’t the vehicle will more than likely be limited to gear 3, or reverse, and the engine fan will be in high speed mode.

I agree the lights aren’t part of the problem, but feel that they and the chattering relay must be indicative of something.

(2) The starting problem only occurs on the first attempt of the day. It will start without fail for the rest of the day. Note that it restarts immediately after the first successful start of the day. I make that second start because it clears the ESP and BAS Warning Lights and ESP/TCS Warning Icon, and removes the “limp home mode” symptoms.

I’ve given the engine compartment a thorough soaking with a garden hose after it has started once. That didn’t keep if from restarting. In fact, it started on the first attempt the next morning.

Does your computer have any stored codes? Many auto parts stores will let you plug a code reader in for free. The codes are in the format “P1234”; if you have stored codes, post them here.

These codes were reported by the local dealership:


The dealership cleared the codes, tested the battery, checked the neutral safety switch, and test drove the vehicle. No codes came back on for them.

The proplem kept recurring and when I took it in again, the same codes were reported.

The dealership has had the vehicle when it was in its “no start” mode. They were able to duplicate the problem, but were unable to find the source.

“The dealership has had the vehicle when it was in its “no start” mode. They were able to duplicate the problem, but were unable to find the source.”

So they gave up?

"What We’ve Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate."
Cool Hand Luke could have the answer.

Did the dealer check all the Chrysler Technical Service Bulletins ? The one that caught my attention is one pertaining to “No Engine Crank - Loss Of Communications With Front Control Module.”

It covers some 2006 only vehicles including some 2006 Grand Cherokees that have Front Control Modules that have a Julian build date prior to 2765 (October 03, 2005). I don’t see where the engine option matters.

They probably checked this at the dealer. The bulletin doesn’t give other symptoms that you describe. It tells techicians how to determine the module’s Julian buid date, and how to diagnose vehicles with modules that fall earlier than that certain build date that have a no crank condition. I’m just throwing it out there. It may or may not pertain to your Jeep.


The dealership wanted to begin replacing “modules” beginning with the ABS Module. That is when I gave up on them.

I gave the service rep a copy of that bulletin the last time the vehicle was in for service. Hopefully the technician checked the FCM.

Steve, Here’s Another Thought.

Would you consider your local Jeep dealer tobe a large, high volume dealer or a smaller facility ?

When I worked at a high volume dealer (eons ago) we would see things in vehicles that smaller dealers didn’t get. We would also see patterns of specific problems earlier than other lesser dealers.

To this day I still have a " Service Guru, John" who works at a dealer an hour and a half away that I still contact when I have an elusive car problem. That dealer’s not really big, but John has worked for huge dealers and the car manuacturer in the past and he also has a high octane I.Q. and a good memory. He’s retired and dabbles part-time.

You could try going on-line to get dealer phone numbers around the state / country (I get toll-free ones when I do this) and start calling Service Managers (not writers). I tell them I’m trying to find a dealer who can fix my car (many like a challenge or a new customer) Run your symptoms by them and see if you get B.S. or "Yah, We just had another one of those No-Start Lit-Up 06 Jeep Cherokees in here yesterday. It’s the . . . "

You might find your Guru and or your answer. You might get a small consensus for a solution after contacting several dealers. You seem well-informed enough to carry on a meaningful discussion with car pros. If the place isn’t a million miles away you could even go there.

Good Luck,

Thank you for some great advice. Our local dealership would not be in the high volume class, and their primary technician for electrical and electronic problems is obviously out of ideas.

Thanks again,