Jeep Cherokee Won’t Start —What Could Be Wrong?

The Jeep Cherokee is a fun vehicle, whether it's on pavement or the beaten path. However, if it won't start, then it's not much fun at all. So, with that being said, what could cause your Jeep Cherokee not to start? We have researched on your behalf to give an idea of what could be the culprit of this issue.

There could be several reasons as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. However, the following are the most common reasons:

  • Bad Battery
  • Failing Alternator
  • Corroded Battery Terminals
  • Failing Starter
  • Bad Starter Solenoid
  • Faulty/Failed Fuel Pump
  • Bad Starter Relay
  • Clogged Fuel Filter or Fuel Lines
  • Bad Fuel Injectors
  • Faulty Ignition Coil Pack
  • Faulty Spark Plugs
  • Clogged or Faulty Oxygen Sensor

We get it; the list as to why your Jeep Cherokee isn't starting can be intimidating. It can also be confusing if vehicle mechanics are like a foreign language to you. That's why in this article we discuss in detail the function of these parts and why they can be the source of your problem. In addition, we will discuss the most common issues with the Jeep Cherokee, so read on!

A cool white Jeep Cherokee photographed at the open parking lot, Jeep Cherokee Won't Start —What Could Be Wrong?

Jeep Cherokee Won't Start - What Could Be Wrong?

If your Jeep Cherokee doesn't start, then it can put you in a challenging situation. You could be late for work, late to pick the kids up from school, or worse, stranded! However, sometimes the reason as to why your car won't start is a simple fix.

However, it can also be out of your realm of expertise. Let's take a look at the most common reasons as to why this is happing:

A white colored Jeep Grand Cherokee photographed at the parking lot

Bad Battery

A bad battery is one of the most common reasons why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. A bad battery can be tested by having your vehicle's electrical system checked or by having it load tested (sometimes referred to as a battery load tester).

You can always take your battery out and have it tested at a local automotive store. They will first try to charge the battery to see if that works. However, they may determine that the battery is bad and will instead sell you a new one! This is an inexpensive and simple way to troubleshoot your issue.

Failing Alternator

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery while the vehicle is on. If it's not working, then you won't have enough power to run your car. A failing alternator can cause symptoms such as a car not starting. Again, this can be checked by having your electrical system checked or by having it load tested.

Corroded Battery Terminals

Corroded battery terminals can be another cause as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. However, this is not that common. To test this, you will need to remove the battery cables and see if they are corroded or dirty.

If they are, then this could be the issue with why your car isn't starting. First, try cleaning off the battery terminals and reconnecting them. Then try restarting your vehicle to see if this solves the issue!

Failing Starter

The starter is the main culprit as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. The starter is responsible for turning over the engine so it can startup. So if this isn't working, that could be what is causing your car not to start.

Bad Starter Solenoid

The starter solenoid is another common reason why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. The starter solenoid receives a signal from your ignition switch and activates the starter motor. If this isn't working, then you will need to check the fuses and replace them if needed.

Faulty/Failed Fuel Pump

Isolated photo of a fuel pump on a white background

A fuel pump is responsible for the supply of gasoline to the engine. The fuel pump sends fuel from the tank to the engine's intake manifold, where it is delivered to all cylinders through individual fuel injectors.

Therefore, your vehicle needs gasoline and the proper amount of air to run. If you don't have enough gas, then it won't be able to start up!

Bad Starter Relay

A bad starter relay can be another common reason as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. If this is not working, it will cause resistance to the electrical current from the battery, which means you won't have enough power to start up your vehicle.

Clogged Fuel Filter or Fuel Lines

A clogged fuel filter and/or clogged fuel lines can be another reason why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. The most common issue is that you will see a gas smell coming from the engine compartment. If you do notice this, then it's time to clean out the problem.

Or, if your vehicle is not starting up due to a clogged fuel filter and/or lines, then you should take it to your local auto store for an inspection. If they determine that the problem is with one of these two components, this will be the fix!

Bad Fuel Injectors

A detailed photo of a car fuel injector

Bad fuel injectors can be a common reason as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. When the fuel goes from the tank through the pump and into the engine, it should be evenly dispersed through all cylinders. However, if one of them isn't working, this can affect your vehicle's running ability.

You will need to take your car to your local auto store to inspect if you suspect that the problem is with the fuel injectors. They will be able to detect and fix this issue!

Faulty Ignition Coil Pack

A faulty ignition coil pack can be another reason why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. The ignition coils are responsible for sending voltage for the spark plugs to all of the cylinders.

If you notice that this isn't happening, then it's time to take your vehicle to your local auto store for an inspection.

Faulty Spark Plugs

The process of a spark plug firing sends the voltage from the ignition coil pack to the cylinder head, which transfers this into a spark that causes combustion and gets your vehicle started. If your spark plugs are not firing, it could be another reason your Jeep Cherokee won't start. 

Faulty/Clogged Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your exhaust gas. This allows the engine to adjust the fuel-to-air ratio so it can run smoothly and with efficiency.

Without a proper fuel-to-air ratio, your Jeep Cherokee may have trouble starting or may not start at all.

How Do you Know if your Starter is Bad?

A bad starter is another common reason as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start. You will likely hear a grinding or clicking noise when you turn the ignition switch, and most often, it occurs when you're trying to start the car.

If one of these components does not work correctly, your engine will not be able to run, and that's why your Jeep Cherokee won't startup! Here's a video explaining how to tell if your starter is going bad:

How Do you Tell if your Starter is Bad or Battery?

If your Jeep Cherokee doesn't start then, it may be a bad starter, or it could just as quickly be a drained battery. To determine if it is the starter or the battery, you can hook up a battery charger to your battery and see if the engine turns over once there's enough power in the battery. In addition, be sure to check to see if the battery terminal is corroded first before doing the jump-start! 

Although jump-starting your car can quickly help you get on your way, it still doesn't solve the problem as to why your Jeep Cherokee won't start in the first place. If the battery keeps falling for no particular reason, then the source of your problem could be a faulty alternator!

A mechanic holding alligator clamps for jumpstarting a car

Can I Jump-Start a Car with a Bad Starter?

You can jump-start a car with a bad starter, but it isn't going to solve the problem. The reason is the issue with components in the starter, not because there is a lack of power to the engine.

If you know that your starter is causing the problem, the best thing is to have a mechanic replace the part or do it yourself. However, if you aren't 100% sure that it is the starter, try jumping the battery first to see if that solves your problem. This is an inexpensive way to troubleshoot and hopefully solve your problem.

What are Common Problems with Jeep Cherokee?

The Jeep Cherokee, like any other vehicle, is going to have problems from time to time. However, some problems might happen more frequently than others.

So what are the most common problems with the Jeep Cherokee?

Some of the most common issues stem from engine stalling or transmission problems. While these are problems can bring big repair bills, there is some less expensive issue that happens. For example, there are several complaints about the power liftgate not working or failing.

Another weird complaint has been the Uconnect system being hacked. Yes, you read that right. The Uconnect software hooks up with a cloud service, so it is, in fact, another way hackers can get into your information!


A cool white Jeep Cherokee photographed at the open parking lot, Jeep Cherokee Won't Start —What Could Be Wrong?

Overall, if you have issues getting your Jeep Cherokee to start, start with the basics. The basic checks include the battery and its cables. Next, see if the battery is bad, terminals need to be cleaned, or if you need a jump start. From there, it is wise to seek out a certified mechanic for assistance!

For more Jeep Cherokee articles, check out:

Can You Flat Tow A Jeep Cherokee [By Trim Levels]

Jeep Grand Cherokee Humming Noise When Accelerating – What Could Be Wrong?

How Long Does A Jeep Grand Cherokee Last?

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