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Question DetailsAsked on 6/28/2014

Any idea as to what could be wrong with my 2003 Grand Jeep Cherokee? Just started acting strange.

When I am driving my Jeep, certain functions will stop working. My windows will not go up or down (but the power locks work); the air conditioning will stop blowing cold air (the fan itself doesn't change blowing speed)); the wipers will work on every speed except the auto-sensor one; the display panel overhead will still tell me tire pressure and miles to service, but the average miles per gallon and the time elapse will just show dashes; the compass will work, but the temp just shows dashes. When this happens, a temporary fix is to pull cap off and reset the battery. After this, everything works fine for awhile, it can be for the next 100 miles, or the next 5 miles. I can't figure out a pattern to the mishap. Battery is less than a year old, still good.

2003 Grand Jeep Cherokee, approximately 223,500 miles

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1 Answer


Our 2003 Durango had similar symptoms and from same manufacturer, so likely the cause - including sporadic interior lights failure or staying on after door closed, heater/AC temp control faillure, intermittent radio/CD player display failure, door autolock intermittent behavior including random unlocking, wiper failure in all modes except constant on (slow or fast), window drive failure, security system oddities (random on, of, alarming, random door locking/unlocking), general dash info/warning lights failure or unjustified lighting up, turn signal and emergency flasher failure. Eventually total interior and exterior lighting failure INCLUDING HEADLIGHTS too if let go that long. Quite intermittent initially, then gets worse and affects more things.

Disconnecting battery makes the error codes and some of the resultant erratic behavior go away for the reseet period - 10 to maybe 45 minutes, then starts accumulating again.

Turned out (3 times so far, under warranty or TSB fortunately) to be the Timing Module going bad, which controls anything that involves delays or turning on or off automatically or keeping track of time to figure fuel consumption or mileage or time or such.

Each replacement lasted about 1 to 1-1/2 years because they had not fixed the problem, just put the same model unit back in.

After I did a LOT of circuit tracing and debugging, found out the problem was simple but obscure - if you turn your dash background lighting down (from bright to dim, using the roller knob by the headlight switch), it does not do this by voltage control - it uses a resistor in the light switch module to burn off energy so the lights get less - causing heating in the switch, similar to old rheostat light dimmers. This overheats the light switch, causing eventual exterior lighting faiure ,progressively. Because the timing module is right next to it, it overheated too (enough to melt plastic behind the dash) - or maybe overheated because the two are inter-connected for things like blinkers and such - so it frys too.

Happened in Durango and a 2006 or so Dakota that my daughter has also.

Check or to see if there is a recall or TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) on your year and model - if so, a recall is free replacement. A TSB commonly if you complain AND bring the TSB number with you so they can find on their system, they will commonly repair free or only for what a warranty deductible would be - $50-100 as a customer satisfaction adjustment - especially if you go to the dealer you bought it from and have had major service done there in the past so they know you.

Paying for yourself- around $600 for one switch or the other including diagnostics (because either does not show diagnostic code or shows any of dozens related to any device that is timed), or over $1000 for both to be replaced at dealer - andthat price from 5 years ago. From what I her from friends/neighbors who have asked my advice, still common in recent year Dodge SUV's and Trucks and Jeeps too.

Solution after replacement (or if not smoked yet might help now) which has worked for use for about 7 years or so is to just leave the dash illumination lights set at or near maximum brightness.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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