How to Troubleshoot a Jeep That Won't Start

You're late for work, your jeep won't start, and now you're stressed out big time. In this instance it can be hard to think of all the troubleshooting steps you can do to get your Jeep going again. Fortunately, due its spacious engine compartment, the troubleshooting steps for a nonstarting jeep are easy to perform.

The Battery

Step 1 - Place your key into the ignition and turn the key as though you are trying to start your jeep.

Step 2 - Turn on your headlights.

Step 3 - Get out of your jeep and check to see whether the headlights came on.

Step 4 - Open the hood if the headlights did not come on.

Step 5 - Locate the battery.

Step 6 - Examine the battery for corrosion, which looks like white crust on the battery terminals.

Step 7 - Scrape off any corrosion with your screwdriver. Use caution when working with the battery. Acid from the battery can harm clothing and skin.

Step 8 - Examine the cables running from the battery to the rest of the engine.

Step 9 - Tighten any cables that feel loose or are disconnected by pressing them into the connecting slot.

Try your headlights again. If they still do not work, try jump-starting the battery.


Step 1 - Find another vehicle to jump-start your battery.

Step 2 - Connect one end of the positive jumper cable (almost always red) to the positive cell (which is almost always red with "+" on it) of the dead jeep battery.

Step 3 - Connect the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive cell of the charged car battery.

Step 4 - Connect one end of the negative (black) jumper cable to the negative post (it will have a "-" on it) of the charged car battery.

Step 5 - Connect the other end of the negative jumper cable (black) to a solid, non-paint-coated metal part of the engine of the dead jeep.

Step 6 - Start your jeep and let it run for 5 minutes. If the problem is a dead battery, then this will charge it. Do not start the car that has the live battery.

Disconnect all cables in the opposite order that you connected them. Do not let the cables touch one another or you could cause a short in the electrical systems of either car. If jump-starting the battery does not work, then check the starter.

The Starter

Step 1 - Open the hood of the jeep.

Step 2 - Follow the positive (red) cable from the battery all the way to the starter. The starter is shaped like a soda can but is larger than one.

Step 3 - Look at the starter; you should see two poles sticking out of one side.

Step 4 - Place the metal part of your screwdriver across the two poles so that you form an electrical connection. Be sure to touch only the handle of the screwdriver.

Step 5 - Listen for the sound of the starter. If you hear it running, than your starter is fine. If it does not run, then you may need to replace it. You do not need to start your jeep at this point.

Step 6 - Check all of the connections from the starter to the battery, as well as the connections from the starter to the rest of the engine.

Step 7 - Tighten any loose wires and replace any severed ones by pressing them firmly into the correct slots.

If the starter works but your jeep is still not running, you'll need to test the alternator. You will need to bring your vehicle to an auto parts dealer for an alternator test. Fortunately, if the problem is the alternator, you will probably be able to jump-start the jeep and get enough power to start it once.

THINGS YOU'LL NEED: Jumper cables, Screwdriver with a plastic or rubber handle

WARNINGS: Always use caution when working with an engine. Engines get hot and can cause serious burns. Do not touch any part of the battery with your bare hands. Battery acid eats through clothing and skin. Only touch the plastic part of the screwdriver when you are testing the starter.

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