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Stupid Jeep!

Towed 5 times; problem with key/ignition/battery/starter? I’m about ready to disown my pre-owned 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee (V8; 68k miles) which has left me stranded three times in the last three months. Symptoms: put key in, lights and buzzing come on, but no action; no clicking, no nothing from the key. First time, AAA said it was the battery so I got a new one. Next time, the Jeep dealer said it was the starter so I got a new one. Third time, it decided to start right when the tow truck arrived. Two separate times, I’ve had the car towed because the key remote wouldn’t talk to the car and the alarm went crazy when I opened the car door with the key. Twice with this problem then three times with not starting points me toward a key/ignition issue. Please tell me that the dealer wouldn’t put in a new starter if that wasn’t really the problem… Now I’m distrustful of the Jeep and ready to trade it in before I get stranded in a snow storm, even though I (used) to love it. Can you please give me some sound advice?

The odds that you got a new starter when you didn’t need one are pretty high. The “defensible” part of that is that intermittent problems are nearly impossible to diagnose if the problem can’t be reproduced by a shop. Then a lot of shops just guess.

That said I think you’re right about the ignition switch/key issue, and based on your description I would not have pointed to the starter. The only problem is the the intermittent nature of it remains - so its not like someone can just find the problem…unless it appears for them.

All I can say is that you don’t need to use a dealer. Just find a good, local, independent mechanic to deal with your car issues. Some shops might have a specialist or two in electrical systems & diagnostics. Right now I’d be looking for one of those.

The next time that happens, try turning the kay in the drivers door lock. Lock and unlock it a few times and see if that helps. Could be a security issue

Try starting it in neutral instead of park, and/or wiggling the shifter when turning the key. You could have a failing “neutral safety switch” that is supposed to prevent the starter from engaging when the car is in gear.

It would be nice if AAA or the dealer would try to diagnose the problem instead of just throwing parts (and your money) at it.

Oblivion is probably right. I have owned several Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees through the years and almost all had intermittent neutral safety switch failures. Shifting to neutral is an easy troubleshooting procedure that most mechanics miss for some reason or another.

Since my extended warrant ran out 4 days ago, I’ll definitely take it to the local guy who works on my 88 Yo pickup. Thanks for your input. Car trouble ranks way up there on the stress scale!!

I tried that when I had the problem when the remote wouldn’t talk to my car and the alarm going crazy but it didn’t work. In that situation, disconnecting the battery cables then turning the key half way then reconnecting the cables was what reprogrammed the remote. I’ll have to try your technique next time the car won’t start. Thanks for your help! When I’m alone in a dark parking lot, I’ll try anything!

I agree that hearing quick easy things to try would feel alot better than than panicing and calling a tow truck. When I had the problem with the remote, there was one jeep dealer mechanic who talked me through a few things at 7pm in a snow storm, like Pete Peter’s suggestion above–even if it didn’t work. I’d be happy to wiggle whatever I had to to at least get home, then drive my jeep to a mechanic the next day! I’m grateful for your help. Thank you.

This sounds very feasible since the car started two days later. I’m sure I giggled either the shifter or the ignition thing where the key inserts. In fact, that silver part where the key goes in feels kind of loose or sloppy. Is the neutral safety switch something a mechanic could test when I’m not having the problem? Thanks so much for your help!