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1997 TJ won't Crank

Sethgross

New Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
Hello, I need a little help troubleshooting my TJ please. I don’t see anything in the forum that helps with this issue specifically. I have a 97TJ that won’t crank or even click when turning the key. I replaced the battery yesterday and the starter this morning. Nothing happens at all when you turn the key. I have full power to lights, stereo, climate control, etc. Is there a guide on troubleshooting some of the sensors which may be affecting this? Tips on where to start appreciated. Thank you all.
 

CharlesHS

TJ Expert
Supporting Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2020
Messages
4,462
Location
Jacksonville, FL, Quezon Philippines
Since the battery and starter are new; check the battery cable clamps and terminal connections at the starter and grounding stud screwed into the block for oxidation and tightness.
When you attempt to crank the engine over; you need to verify there is 12V to the starter solenoid from the ignition switch.
 
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Sethgross

New Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
Thanks folks! These are great suggestions. Battery ground is solid. I do have a clutch bypass and tried that. Still nothing. I haven’t checked power to starter but assume it’s not getting it since it won’t even click or crank.
 

iamloganjames

Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2020
Messages
36
Location
Scottsdale, Arizona
Start by checking power at the starter solenoid with someone holding the key in crank position. If no power there, Find the relay for the starter solenoid and see if you can hear it clicking when you turn over the ignition. You can also remove the relay and make sure that the sockets for pins are getting correct voltage when you turn the key. If no power there, there is a connecter on the driver side of the steering column that has the wire that sends the power to the relay. just keep following the circut until you figure out where there is power. There are a couple videos on youtube regarding TJ no start issues if you haven't looked there yet. Good luck(y)
 
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Sethgross

New Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
Do you have a voltage meter?
Have you checked voltage at the battery and at the cables and at the starter and the engine ground?
Yes. Voltage at battery is 12.29v. Grounds are all good. Voltage at starter is 12.2v. While under the car looking around I asked my wife to turn the key one more time. And guess what? It fired right up. After three days of no cranking at all, not even a click, it turned right over. I shut it off and it started three more times in a row. I’m baffled.
 
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Sethgross

New Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
Start by checking power at the starter solenoid with someone holding the key in crank position. If no power there, Find the relay for the starter solenoid and see if you can hear it clicking when you turn over the ignition. You can also remove the relay and make sure that the sockets for pins are getting correct voltage when you turn the key. If no power there, there is a connecter on the driver side of the steering column that has the wire that sends the power to the relay. just keep following the circut until you figure out where there is power. There are a couple videos on youtube regarding TJ no start issues if you haven't looked there yet. Good luck(y)
Thank you. This is great. The jeep suddenly cranked over and started right up. I have no idea why. I didn’t touch anything other than checking meter voltage is on the battery and at the new starter. I will check your recommendations here to see if somethings loose.
 

Blackjeep1997

New Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2022
Messages
5
Location
Cleveland
Thank you. This is great. The jeep suddenly cranked over and started right up. I have no idea why. I didn’t touch anything other than checking meter voltage is on the battery and at the new starter. I will check your recommendations here to see if somethings loose.
I have been having the same problem with my jeep im in almost the exact same situation as you. Did you find any lose connections or anything wrong with your jeep. Mine does the same thing and starts up randomly
 
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Sethgross

New Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
I have been having the same problem with my jeep im in almost the exact same situation as you. Did you find any lose connections or anything wrong with your jeep. Mine does the same thing and starts up randomly
Howdy, I wish I could give you some good advice. I did replace my starter and it didn’t get any better and then suddenly everything worked. And it’s been fine ever since. Have you checked your ground wires? Is your starter in good shape? The advice I was given was to check the voltage at the starter to make sure was getting the 12 V when someone turned the key.
 

Gorogergo

New Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
16
Location
Emerald Isle, NC
I recently used this thread as a guide for a similar situation. Unfortunately, I was chasing every little thing rather than checking in a methodical way. It helped immensely.
 

Artsifrtsi

I just wanna go wheeling...
Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2020
Messages
1,024
Location
Huntsville, AL
Howdy, I wish I could give you some good advice. I did replace my starter and it didn’t get any better and then suddenly everything worked. And it’s been fine ever since. Have you checked your ground wires? Is your starter in good shape? The advice I was given was to check the voltage at the starter to make sure was getting the 12 V when someone turned the key.
Mine acted the same way... dirty/corroded contacts in the ign switch. It still does it occasionally, but bumping the key a few times to start usually clears it up again. (I hate humidity sometimes...)
 

kmbarreiros

Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2021
Messages
83
Location
Fairhaven, MA
Mine acted the same way... dirty/corroded contacts in the ign switch. It still does it occasionally, but bumping the key a few times to start usually clears it up again. (I hate humidity sometimes...)
Since mine stopped working all together I added a push button switch to the yellow wire off the actuator switch connected to a 12v source. I found that easier then replacing the switch in the column. Mine is a 98 but I I think the 97 is identical.

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Jerry Bransford

TJ Guru Moderator
Staff Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
23,754
Location
Fleming Island Florida
Hello, I need a little help troubleshooting my TJ please. I don’t see anything in the forum that helps with this issue specifically. I have a 97TJ that won’t crank or even click when turning the key. I replaced the battery yesterday and the starter this morning. Nothing happens at all when you turn the key. I have full power to lights, stereo, climate control, etc. Is there a guide on troubleshooting some of the sensors which may be affecting this? Tips on where to start appreciated. Thank you all.
Automatic or 5-speed? If it's an automatic try moving the shifter between Park and Neutral while the ignition switch is in the Start position. If it's a manual transmission have you tried doing the mod described in your owner's manual to bypass the clutch interlock switch?

If neither of those ideas help, you might have a bad ignition switch actuator pin which is located behind the ignition switch. The are known to physically break which will cause the symptoms you're having. Enough that I carry a spare with me.