Jeep won't crank


TJ Enthusiast
Original poster
Supporting Member
Oct 31, 2019

2004 Rubicon w manual transmission. Turn the key and all you get is a relay click behind the glove box. Dash lights light up but gauges don't work. Headlights work. No codes thrown.

History on this - jeep was running fine but would hesitate every once in a while. If I drove all day, maybe once or twice. Took it for a drive around town and it quickly became more frequent. Finally left me stranded before my brain figured out it was time to head for the barn.

Is this a crank/cam positioning sensor issue or ?

Appreciate the help!
First, put it in 4L to override the clutch safety switch.

If not that, then you're probably looking at the ignition switch, or the ignition actuator pin in the column.
Check for 12v on the little starter wire when you turn the switch to crank.

If you get 12v, smack the starter while the key is rolled forward.

If not then do as suggested above.

You also can try turning the key "on" and running a jumper from the little starter wire to the big one.

Put it in 4Low as suggested. It turned over, sounded like it wanted to catch and then backfired. Also looks like the check engine and check gauge lights are on. Gauges were working with it cranked. Working on getting a code reader.
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You can get the codes by turning the key on off on off on quickly and leaving it on. The codes will display on the odo.
So, to recap, in 2hi, turning the key, engine won’t crank and gauges don’t work. In 4low, engine cranks, attempts to start , very rough and backfires. No codes. Next steps?
Repair or jumper the clutch switch and it should start in 2H.

I'd probably replace the crank sensor, MOPAR only for this one, just because.

Check the fuel pressure.
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Read a post somewhere that said the clutch switch could be cleaned and would become functional. I set off to locate said switch and the only thing I can find that seems appropriate is this jumpered mess. Did the PO remove the switch? Going to relook at pulling the fuse.
IMG_2887 Large.jpeg
Either the switch failed, or they just didn't like having it, so they jumpered it.

The PO's cable tie fu is weak...if the switch isn't broken you can just cable tie it closed. Or electrical tape.

It drives me nuts when people put so much work into being lazy.

So the switch is missing. You're going to need to purchase one...I'd imagine any auto parts store might have one. The switch is a clamshell and snaps over the rod.


We melted though my clutch line running the WABDR last summer (after rebuilding the Jeep in 8 days)...and I forgot to reinstall the switch. Was kinda funny when it didn't start.

Removed PO's jumper connection. Blew out some dirt and put it back in. Dash/guages now respond properly. Attempted to start, starter cranked, engine turned over but sounded horrible (like it was out of timing??). Could the rough running/bucking have caused chain to skip a tooth or is this just indicative of either crank or cam sensor issue?

ODB scanner and live data would tell you a lot.

Possible you skipped a chain but not likely.

Wondering if it's in open or closed loop.

Replaced crank position sensor - dash lights up, gauges dead, no crank and worst of all skim light on. Plugged in old sensor (did not install, just plugged in) and it shows the same behavior. Disconnected both leads to the battery, left them touching for 10+ minutes. Reconnected - same result. No codes showing.
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