Why does my SUV have trouble starting?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader whose Jeep Grand Cherokee has an intermittent starting problem.

The Jeep logo.
–The Associated Press

Q. I recently purchased a 2006 Grand Cherokee with 154,000 miles on it. It generally runs great, but it won’t run from time to time. There is plenty of power coming from the battery, but it won’t start. The problem is intermittent. When I turn the key, nothing happens, and jumpstarts don’t help either. Then suddenly it will start and be fine for a few weeks. I took it to my local repair shop, and they could not come up with any diagnostic code. They said it might be the starter. I don’t want to put money into repairs without knowing the problem. Do you have any suggestions?


A. At 13 years old and 154,000 miles, the problem could certainly be the starter. At this point I would do some basic testing, including voltage-drop testing. That will give you a good indication of wiring and connections from the battery to the starter. Next time the engine doesn’t start, tap on the starter while someone is turning the key. If the engine cranks over, replace the starter.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.