How to Start a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key: 3 Methods

The Jeep Cherokee is a rugged, capable and dependable vehicle built to last. As a great sport utility vehicle, it’s suitable for people who need on and off-road capability. Despite its dependability, it may fail sometimes just like any other machine. 

The most common reasons why a Jeep Cherokee won’t start are 38% battery, 27% alternator, 20% starter, and 15% something else. Speaking of the battery, alternator, and starter, start-up failure can ruin your day. However, if you’re aware of how to start a Jeep Cherokee without a key, nothing will stop you from driving your vehicle.

Want to know how to start a Jeep Cherokee without using a key? Keep reading!

Can You Start a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key?

Yes, it’s possible to start a Jeep Cherokee without a key. Here are three ways to start a Jeep Cherokee without a key. 

start a jeep cherokee without a key

1. Method One 

One of the main reasons why your Jeep Cherokee won’t start is because of the key fob. The key fob is the small handheld remote control device that controls your Jeep’s remote keyless entry system. When you press a button on your keys and hear a chirp of your car’s unlocking mechanism, that’s your key fob at work. 

If you’re in a situation where you cannot start your Jeep Cherokee with your key fob, the battery could be the culprit. You don’t have to forage your home for batteries. You can start the Jeep without necessarily heading to the store to purchase batteries. 

Every Jeep Cherokee comes with a smart feature that allows car owners to start the vehicle without a key fob. Start by placing the on/off end of your key fob over the ignition button of your Jeep Cherokee. Next, step on the brake then push the ignition button with the key fob. 

If you follow the steps above correctly, your Jeep’s engine should come to life in a second. 

2. Method Two

You can start your Jeep Cherokee using your smartphone. Modern Jeep Cherokees allow you to stay connected with your car thanks to SiriusXM Guardian and Uconnect remote services. With these services, you can start your vehicle from a distance, lock and unlock the door and even sound the horn using your smartphone. 

For this to work, you should have downloaded and registered the Uconnect app. To unlock your Jeep Cherokee without a key, launch the Uconnect app and start your car. It’s that easy. 

3. Method Three 

In method three, you’ve to replace the whole cylinder and key assembly to get rid of the start-up failure. Don’t be surprised by the technical terms such as cylinder and assembly. The cylinder is the lock that’s not part of the ignition switch. Purchase a new ignition cylinder and key from your local auto parts store or online. 

Take a screwdriver from your toolbox and carefully remove the steering wheel. You should find a lock plate under the steering. Remove the plate and you should uncover a plastic horn ring. Remove this too. 

Once you do so, you should expose the signal switch. Pull the signal switch so that you can see the key and cylinder. At the bottom of the key and cylinder, you should see a pin lock. Press the pin and this should release the key and cylinder assemble with ease. 

Replace it with the new model you purchased. Reinstall everything and this should solve the issue. Now, you can start your Jeep Cherokee without any problem. 

What Are the Common Reasons a Jeep Cherokee Won’t Start?

As aforementioned, there are several reasons why a Jeep Cherokee won’t start. One of the main causes is a dead battery. To check if your battery is weak, we recommend using a battery tester. If you don’t have one, try jumping your Jeep Cherokee with jumpers. If this does not work, purchase a new battery for your vehicle. 

The second most common cause is battery corrosion. Corrosion on your Jeep Cherokee battery can spell trouble. To restore the battery, clean the battery terminals to ensure there is a clean connection, then try to start your Jeep Cherokee. When shopping for battery cleaning solutions, consult an auto store salesperson. 

A starter motor is responsible for turning the engine over and getting it to fire. If your Jeep Cherokee has a bad starter motor, you need to purchase a new one and have it installed. Next, we have the bad timing belt that ensures engine valves open and closes at the proper interval. 

Having a bad timing belt can cause engine damage that will require the replacement of your engine. The majority of car manufacturers specify when to change the timing belt. This is usually based on mileage-every 60,000 miles or five years. 

A cracked or broken distributor cap routes voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. If moisture builds up under the cap, it can cause problems for your Jeep Cherokee. If the cap is cracked or damaged, replace it. Otherwise, wipe away the moisture with a clean and dry cloth.

Lastly, we have a bad ignition coil. The ignition coil transforms a battery voltage into an electric spark. If it’s damaged, that means, there is not enough juice for the coil to transform voltage into an electric spark. To test the strength of the current through the ignition coil, you’ll need a multimeter. 

Can You Drive a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key?

Yes, you can and the Jeep Cherokee should still operate without the key fob. Just follow the methods above to get your engine running and you can drive away in your trusted Jeep Cherokee. 

You can get your key made from the VIN of your Jeep Cherokee. Most vehicles in the US from 1990 and up have key codes saved on file with their respective manufacturers. All you need to do is prove ownership of your vehicle and you’ll have a key made with the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN. Once they pull a key code from your VIN, a key is cut. 

Getting a new key fob and key replaced for your original set at the dealership will cost $100 to $400. This price range depends on the make and model of your Jeep Cherokee. 

Does My Insurance Cover Lose Car Keys?

Comprehensive insurance generally covers stolen keys. This provides the benefit of covering the cost of recording or replacing your car keys and locking mechanisms for your Jeep Cherokee. Not all lost keys are usually covered by car insurance. However, most policies offer coverage for stolen car keys. 

Can I Start My Jeep Cherokee Without the Key Chip?

It’s not possible to start your Jeep Cherokee without the chip key. To start your car, you can use your mobile app, or use the first method described above. Alternatively, you can call the on-road assistance service offered by your car manufacturer. Other options include towing your car to the nearest dealership or your home.

Can I Start My Jeep With a Dead Battery?

Yes, you can start your Jeep with a dead battery, and this is not a hard nut to crack. One of the most practiced methods is to jump-start a Jeep with a dead battery. For this, you should have a vehicle with a properly functioning battery. 

The process of starting your Jeep in the jump-start method is simple. You just need to park the vehicle near your Jeep. Then, after opening the hoods, you have to connect the two batteries with a jumper cable and start your Jeep. 

Make sure to run your Jeep for a few minutes. Here, you can also check this video on jump-start Jeep.

However, starting a Jeep with a dead battery should not be a regular practice. It is crucial to replace the battery when it becomes dead. 

Is It Legal to Start Jeep Cherokee Without a Key?

No, starting a Jeep Cherokee without a key is not legal, even if there are ways to do so. The key of the Jeep Cherokee is a tool for real owners to ensure the vehicle remains safe from unauthorized access. 

And if you don’t have the key, you are not the vehicle’s owner by law. When you are not a real owner of a Jeep Cherokee or don’t have access to the key, this goes against the law. 

However, if you are an actual Jeep Cherokee owner and don’t have access to the key, you can still start the vehicle without the key going through methods. 

Final Thoughts

Hot-wiring modern Jeep Cherokees to bypass the ignition lock/switch mechanism is not easy. Back in the 90s, all you needed to do was connect a series of wires and your engine started. Today, vehicles come with a passive immobilizer with a reader installed near the ignition barrel. 

It searches for a signal coming from a chip inside your key fob. So, if there is no chip, it means no signal and your car won’t start. The other reason is that the ECU in modern vehicles shuts down spark plug power and other components. 

To start your Jeep Cherokee, follow the methods described above. 

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