I love the Internets. Even more so, I love the people who take the time to share their knowledge to help out their common man (or woman or transgendered individual). Social responsibility is a large part of why I share these tidbits of information that hopefully make someone’s life just a little bit easier.
Last week I pulled into the Post Office and ran inside to drop off a package. When I returned to my beloved Jeep, I turned the key and… nothing. Actually, there were lights, but they were accompanied by silence. All the dash lights and everything came on, but there was no starter crank, not even the dread “click-click-click.” Just silence.
Rather than start screaming obscenities, I pulled out my Droid and searched “Jeep Liberty Turn Key No Sound.” There were a decent number of returns, but six or so down was a post on the wonderful LostJeeps.com with the title “06 CRD Won’t Always Crank… Problem Found!"
Throughout the thread were many suggestions, but the one that seemed to fit the bill regarded the actuator pin, a long plastic pin in the steering column that connects the actual key cylinder to the ignition switch (which seems like a ridiculous part… and even more ridiculous is the notion of making it out of plastic –this is a part that gets cranked/tweaked over and over and over again –plastic –really?).
There was a diagram and a suggestion to jumper the starter relay to bypass the ignition process. I found a small piece of copper wire, jumpered the relay pins, and sure enough, little Thumper started cranking like a champ. I pulled the relay back out and drove home, saving myself the time, hassle, and cost of a tow! Very cool.
I actually spent the next week starting the car this way while waiting for parts to arrive. I would simply turn the key to the “run” position, pop the hood, place the jumpered starter relay in its slot, and the starter would crank and fire up the engine.
If you’re doing this, just remember to pull the relay out before driving away, or the starter will keep cranking as you’re driving down the road. Also, you don’t need to “seat” the relay all the way into its slot. The jeep will fire up as soon as the pins hit the contacts.
Note that several people in the Lost Jeeps thread mentioned dealers that wanted to replace the ENTIRE STEERING COLUMN rather than service the part. $1200 in parts and service vs. a little less than $40 in parts to do it yourself in about an hour. This is EXACTLY the reason it’s a good idea to do a little research before simply turning your keys over to the dealership.
Surprisingly enough, it turns out that the METAL in my actuator pin housing had broken, not the actual plastic pin. It looks like the metal was brittle and crumbled like the “pig iron” you often see installed for drains in old houses.
Here is a link to the part you will need:
Several people also suggested changing the ignition switch since it’s cheap and you’ve already removed it during the process, so I went ahead and did that as well. Here’s a link to the part:
Here is a link on youtube that illustrates the entire process. They do a great job of announcing the step you’ll be undertaking, then showing you how it’s done. Great tutorial. I believe they are actually changing the pin on a PT Cruiser, but the process is nearly identical.
I also highly recommend reading the post on Lost Jeeps to prep yourself with general knowledge before undertaking the work!
Below is a gallery of the photos I took while changing things out.