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dash brake light on, engine won't crank

Old 09-30-2015, 09:18 AM
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Year: 1998 , 1999
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Default dash brake light on, engine won't crank

Didn't see this anywhere else so thought I would post it here.

I have had my cherokee (1998 inline 6cyl 4.0 4x4 sport) sitting for a while(2 weeks+) and then went to start it. No crank, no solenoid click, nothing. When I turned the key to start, the radio went off, everything thing went off as if there was a short somewhere, and the "BRAKE" warning light on the dash came on. So I ripped out the starter, and the the battery, and took them to O'reilly's to have them tested. Started tested good. Battery was needing a charge, but wouldn't take a charge. O'reilly's gave me a new one under warranty. Get back to the house, re-install the old starter, and the battery, and she started up just fine. Drove for about 15 miles just to check it out. Got back to the house, shut her down, and then try to start again just to make sure. Friggin thing failed to start with same exact symptoms again. I said, "@#$%^&()(*^$$##!!!!!". Then I hugged the steering wheel and prayed to the Mopar gods. Suddenly a thought occrred to me to check the the circuit to see if there was a starter relay in addition to a solenoid. Sure enough, there was. I popped the lid off the fuse box in the engine compartment next to the AC accumulator/dryer thingie. I grabbed the starter relay and it was pretty freaking hot compared to the other relays. Swapped it out with a spare I had in the console ( I keep spares) and the engine started back up just fine. So far so good after several restarts.

So the moral of the story is, read the freaking manual and trace the circuit before you bust your knuckles ripping out the starter. Only took 20 seconds to pull out the relay and swap it.

Hope this helps some one save time and blood from their knuckles.

Last edited by Cherokee_of_Tennessee; 09-30-2015 at 09:19 AM. Reason: added vehicle description
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Old 09-30-2015, 09:25 AM
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By the way, anybody know why the brake light was coming on while everything else was going off during this issue? It was really throwing me off...
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Old 09-30-2015, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Cherokee_of_Tennessee View Post
By the way, anybody know why the brake light was coming on while everything else was going off during this issue? It was really throwing me off...

Parking brake? You make changing a relay sound easy, I have had some so tight I thought I was going to need a pry bar to get it out. lol
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Old 09-30-2015, 09:56 AM
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Yes, the parking brake light. But the parking brake was not on, and the light did not come on until I rotated the key to the start position. Everything else would turn off as if there was a short in the circuit. Maybe this is the way it is supposed to happen during normal start? I will have to check again I guess.

The relays in my jeep come out easy because I change them often!!! Seems like nobody makes one that will last anymore.
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Old 09-30-2015, 12:10 PM
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I had something similar a while back, but it was caused by a Mopar alarm system I didn't know was installed. I had the battery disconnected for a while so I could take my time with a head unit install and solder everything properly, and the Mopar system didn't like that. The brake light was the only thing on, like you said, so I believe it has something to do with the theft protection built into the XJ's.
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