First thing’s first – the Jeep doesn’t start and it’s time to diagnose the issue!

I bought the Jeep as a non-starter but had already done a bit of Googling to try and find out if this was common on XJs – in particular where the engine wouldn’t get to the cranking stage. The starter itself can die from oil contamination – it sits directly underneath the oil filter housing – and deterioration of the wiring to the starter can cause bad connections and earths which are often enough to stop the starter from cranking. On the automatics the neutral safety switch can gum up which effectively locks out the car from starting. Proper descriptions of all of these faults – and often how to test for them – are found on the various Jeep forums via searches like “Jeep Cherokee XJ starting problem“. Hooray for forums!

I began with the neutral safety switch as it looked like the easiest thing to test – simply unplug the harness in the engine bay and bridge the appropriate connections to bypass the switch. If the car starts, the NSS is the problem.

And start it did! What could’ve been an arduous, methodical plod through various common issues was solved with a fresh battery, a piece of wire and 5 minutes of fiddling – I’ve not had luck like that in a long time. There are excellent guides on how to clean up the NSS but that’ll have to wait until I’ve solved the more immediate problem of the deafening squeal emanating from the engine bay – it looks like the alternator might be seized! Still… it’s alive!


-£350.00 (Jeep Cherokee XJ)
-£ 65.00 (AM058R battery)
- - -
-£415.00