How to Start a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key

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Dealing with a dead key fob is a frustrating experience. Thankfully, you’re not out of luck if you find that your fob isn’t working. There are both ways to get around an unresponsive key fob in the short term and ways to fix it yourself in the long term.

If you have a dead key fob, place it over the ignition switch to start the vehicle as normal. The transmission signals in the key fob should work when that close. There are options past that, but if the fob method doesn’t work you should go ahead and call for a tow or get a new battery in the fob.

Don’t panic if your key isn’t working or you lose it. Let’s take a look at what causes key fob issues, how to start your Jeep with a dead fob, and the process for replacing the cylinder and key assy yourself.

What Does It Mean When a Key Fob is Not Detected?

Grand Cherokee 2022

As you might imagine, a Jeep displaying “Key fob not detected” indicates that the key cannot send a transmission to the car. The issue is typically caused by weak batteries in the key fob but can result from several problems.

Regardless, this issue will prevent you from using a keyless entry to your Jeep, even if it’s working normally.

What Causes a Key Fob to Stop Working?

Issues with a Jeep key fob are typically caused by weak battery power in the fob itself. However, there are several causes. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Dead or Weak Key Fob Battery

Like other cars with keyless entry, a dead battery is the most frequent issue of faulty key fob in a Jeep Cherokee. If the key fob’s battery is empty or low on power, it can’t transmit signals to the keyless entry feature.

Faulty Key Fob

Sometimes, a Jeep’s key fob can become damaged over time or by accident. Faulty key fobs and damage can happen from loose wiring, moisture damage, or circuit issues.

Programming Errors

Another problem with keyless entry systems can be programming and software errors in the Jeep. The software on the key fob can be accidentally deleted from a stalled load or a weak battery, preventing detection in the process.

Low Car Battery

Issues can sometimes come from the vehicle instead of the key fob. You may not have enough power to use the keyless entry feature if you have a low or dying battery in your Jeep Cherokee.

Issues With the Door Lock

In some situations, problems with a Jeep’s door lock system can cause detection issues and keyless entry problems.

Misaligned Buttons and Broken Connections

When a key fob has sticky, broken, or damaged components, it may not function correctly or transmit signals.

Clicking a stuck button won’t make the required contacts and will cause issues with the keyless entry system.

Radio Interference

If your Jeep Cherokee key fob suddenly breaks, it could be caused by radio interference. These situations are rare, but wireless devices like anti-theft alarms can disrupt transmissions from the key fob.

Can You Start a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key Fob?

Yes, starting a Jeep Cherokee without a key fob is possible. You can use various methods, but some can be tricky or damage the vehicle if you lack experience, so tread carefully.

Here are a few options to consider if your key fob isn’t working with your Jeep Cherokee:

Hold the Fob Over the Ignite Switch

As you know, a dead key fob battery can cause start failures in a Jeep Cherokee. Luckily, the Jeep Cherokee has a built-in feature that allows you to start the vehicle with a dead key fob. Here’s how:

  1. Place the on/off side of the key fob over the ignite switch on your Jeep Cherokee.
  2. Place your foot on the brake.
  3. Next, push the ignite switch using the key fob.

Afterward, the vehicle should start normally. This solution works because the Jeep Cherokee key fob contains an electromagnetic transmission to start the car. If this solution doesn’t work, move on to the next and try again.

Replace the Cylinder and Key Assy

New Jeep Key

You can sometimes replace the cylinder and key assy to resolve the ignition issue. This may sound intimidating, and it does requires some elbow grease, but it’s relatively straightforward.

You’ll need a screwdriver, ignition cylinder, and key to start. You can find these small parts at an auto parts shop for affordable prices.

Follow the steps below:

  1. First, carefully take off the steering wheel. Refer to the user manual or online guides for a full breakdown of the process.
  2. Locate the lock plate underneath the steering wheel and remove it.
  3. You’ll notice a plastic horn ring. Remove it.
  4. Now you’ll see the exposed signal switch. Pull the signal switch up to expose the cylinder and key.
  5. You’ll notice a pin lock at the bottom of the cylinder and key. Press the pin to free the cylinder and key assy. It will release smoothly.
  6. Replace the old components with your new cylinder and key assy, then put everything back into place.

Replacing your Jeep Cherokees cylinder and key assy should cause your vehicle to start without any issues. You may need to call a professional if you’re still running into problems.

When to Call a Professional

Sometimes, it’s best to call a professional to resolve your Jeep Cherokee key fob and start issues. You may need a professional to replace your key if you don’t have one or if it’s entirely dead. Professionals can reprogram a new key fob or create an entirely new key.

Overall, it’s best to call a professional if you don’t want to solve the issue with DIY solutions or if your methods aren’t working.