1999 Jeep Cherokee electrical issue

My 1999 Jeep Cherokee (bought new) has electrical issues. A few years ago, I thought maybe things just ‘stopped working’ after years of virtual non-use. Here’s a list of things that are happening:

  1. The directional indicator lights on the dash stopped working;
  2. The remote door locks stopped working; both with the fob, and with the console switch;
  3. The window lock stopped working (this is a new one, which appeared last week).

I’ve been making an effort to drive the Jeep more in the past few years, and I’ve noticed that after a sufficient amount of driving, things start working again. Saturday, the window lock started working again, so the passenger could lower the window. Today, the left directional indicator on the dash started working again. In the past, the right indicator has started working too. The remote door locks are working. (Note: The door locks always seem to be the first thing to recover.)

I got a new battery put in a year or two ago. Could I need a different battery? I have an uneducated idea that I need a battery with higher capacity or higher amperage. (Are those the same, or different?)

Also: I went to rent a trailer a couple of years ago. The battery died while it was being hooked up. (That must have been when I replaced the battery.) With the Jeep running (after a boost), the left turn indicator on the trailer did not work. (The Jeep’s was.) The most obvious problem is a fault in the wiring; but could this be related to the issues listed above?

Johnny, you’ve got a 2nd generation XJ Cherokee. As you likely already know. I have a WK2 Grand Cherokee, a 2016. I’ve been a member of the Jeep Garage forum and it has been a good source of information. You may want to post on their SJ and XJ subforum, Cherokee-SJ and XJ | Jeep Garage - Jeep Forum.

Good luck to you.

Electrical can be tough. Intermittent electrical issues can be really tough.

But I’m going to take a WAG at this.

Fuses and/or circuit breakers:


Fuses that are either slightly loose or slightly corroded (either the fuse terminals or the clips on the fuse block into which the fuse snaps) could do this.

It seems like there are just a couple of options that could tie this all together.

If you pull the fuses/breakers, you can easily clean up any minor oxidation with a piece of fine sandpaper. You can clean the ‘clamps’ on the fuse block with that same piece of sandpaper, too.

The spot on the panel where you plug in a breaker might be harder with sandpaper, but you can probably get to those with an emery board, even if you had to trim it.

You live coastal (how close to the water ?), and the car is 20+ years old ?

This is a long shot, but it won’t cost you to check.

Looks like:

  • Fuse numbers 6, 9, 15, and 16, and
  • Circuit breaker number 28

Harder would be a bad connection in the wiring somewhere along those circuits. I’d check the fuse panel first.

Good luck !

Actually, this is on my to-do list. I was going to pull all of the fuses in the engine compartment and spray them with contact cleaner.

We’re about 500 feet from the beach.

I might do that when I have time.

If you find corrosion on any of these contacts, get yourself a tube of this, and – after cleaning and removing oxidation from other connections – use it:

Don’t forget the under dash fuse box:


That holds the fuses and breakers that I was referring to.

Check both/all :wink:

Grounds are as (or more) important than power. A loose ground connection can cause all kinds of intermittent issues. Get the Electrical service manual and find out where all the grounds for these devices are connected and check them.

The thing is, these bugs only happen when the Jeep hasn’t been run in a week, and disappear when it’s been driven a while. That’s what makes me hypothesise I need a bigger battery.

It is unlikely to have anything to do with the battery.
Now - it could be an alternator problem, but then the the “battery” light should be on.

Yeah, I’ll plug another vote for a dirty/oxidized contact somewhere, and I’ve had odd issues from bad/imperfect grounds before. I’d be positively amazed if it was the battery, but I’ve been amazed before.

I agree with this - poor grounds or dirty/oxidized connectors are the most obvious - and easiest - starting points to eliminate.

You might want to change to a deep cycle battery. Normal batteries are mainly just for starting the car, a deep cycle battery has thicker plates and will help when there is a lot of electronics in the car. I switched to a deep cycle after I installed a dash camera.

I bought some emory paper yesterday, but the hardware store didn’t have any contact cleaner. I couldn’t do anything with the Jeep anyway, as SWMBO had me out doing yard work.

I didn’t have the electrical issues when I had a Die Hard battery, or with the previous battery.

When you had those batteries, was that in the past?