It can feel pretty defeating when you encounter an issue with your Jeep. This is especially true when you can’t figure out what could be causing the problem. However, if your Jeep won’t start and just clicks, the problem may not be as severe as it seems.
When a Jeep won’t start and just clicks, it’s most likely a poor connection with the starter or the battery. However, if the connections aren’t loose, you may need to replace the starter or battery. A bad ground connection can also cause this issue. In very rare cases, this could mean that the Jeep’s engine has seized.
Luckily, there is a very low chance of the issue being the engine. In most cases, the problem is relatively simple to fix. In the article below, you will find all the information you need to determine what’s causing this problem and how you can fix it.
Why is my Jeep Just Clicking?
If your Jeep is just clicking when you try to start it, there are a few different things that it could be. The information below will walk you through determining precisely what is causing the issue.
When this issue occurs, it’s commonly an issue with the starter.
Poor Starter Connection
One reason your Jeep could be clicking rather than starting is if your starter has a poor connection. If the starter does not have a good connection, it will not get the power it needs to start your Jeep.
The clicking sound does not indicate that the starter is getting power. In most cases, the sound comes from a solenoid that receives power from a different circuit.
The first thing you should check for is loose or corroded connections. Sometimes the connection between the wires and your starter motor can become loose. If this is the case, fixing the issue could be as simple as resecuring the connection.
Additionally, the connection could be poor if there is any type of corrosion buildup where these wires connect to the starter. If you notice anything like this that could prevent a secure connection, clean the area thoroughly with sandpaper or a stiff brush.
If these things check out okay, the issue could result from damaged wires. These wires can wear out over time. However, it could also be damaged by rodents knawing the wires. To rule this out, check the wires that run to the starter motor for signs of chew marks or other physical damage.
Poor Battery Connection
If you don’t find any issues with the starter’s connection, the next thing you’ll want to check is the battery connection. While a clicking sound when trying to start your car is a common sign of a problem with the starter, it can also occur if the battery connection is poor.
However, when the issue is the battery connection, you may also notice that the headlights or interior lights do not come on as they usually would.
What Will Cause a Weak Battery Connection?
Several things can cause a weak battery connection, including loose connectors or corroded terminals. A poor battery connection can also result from loose, faulty, or damaged battery cables.
Clean the Battery Terminals
Since dirty or corroded battery terminals most commonly cause this issue, the first thing you should do is clean the battery terminals.
The best way to clean the battery terminals is to saturate them with terminal cleaner and let them sit for a few minutes. Then, take a wire brush and scrub the buildup from the terminals.
If cleaning the terminals doesn’t restore the connection, you may need to tighten the metal connectors that connect the cables to the battery.
Bad Ground Connection
If there’s no apparent problem with the battery’s connection, your Jeep could have a bad ground connection. A bad ground connection can cause various electrical and battery issues that could prevent your Jeep from turning over.
Common symptoms of a bad ground connection include:
- Hearing a clicking sound and the vehicle will not start.
- The lights flicker or do not come on at all.
- The car will not turn over.
- Low or no voltage from the battery.
- Windows do not respond to the switch.
What is a Ground Connection?
A ground connection is the connection between the negative battery terminal and the chassis of your Jeep.
This connection connects the battery with all other electrical components of the vehicle and allows the current to flow in a complete circuit.
Why It’s Bad and How to Test It
The most common cause of a bad ground connection is loose contacts, which cause the ground to short out.
The easiest way to test your Jeep’s ground connection is by using a multimeter tool to test the resistance of the ground.
To test your ground connection using a multimeter tool:
- Set your multimeter tool to read ohms.
- Place the negative (black) problem on the negative terminal of the battery and the positive (red) probe on the grounding point.
- Check the resistance reading on the multimeter. If the reading is 0.5 or lower, the ground is not bad. A higher resistance reading lets you know that the ground is bad.
Your jeep could also click rather than start if the battery is too weak.
If the battery is weak or has a low charge, it can’t supply enough power for the starter to do its job.
Symptoms of a Weak Battery
A clicking noise when trying to start your Jeep is one of the most common symptoms of a weak battery.
Other symptoms of a weak battery include the engine being slow or hesitant to turn over, having to press the gas to get the engine to start, or dim/flickering lights.
How to Test the Battery in Wrangler
If you experience symptoms that indicate your battery is weak or going bad, you can use a voltmeter to test it.
- To do this, you will need to set your voltmeter to 20 volts.
- Then, place the positive prong on the positive terminal of the battery and the negative on the negative. The vehicle should not be running, and the meter should read around 12.5 volts.
- Have someone start the car while you watch the meter. The voltage will drop when you start the vehicle, but it should not drop below 10 volts. If it does, it lets you know the batter is bad.
When the battery is going bad, you may have to jump-start the car to start it.
How to Jump-Start It
Luckily, jump-starting your Jeep is easy as long you have jumper cables and another battery to borrow charge from.
- Make sure neither of the vehicles are running.
- Connect one of the red clamps to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Then, connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal on the good battery.
- Repeat this process with black clamps. However, ensure you clamp to bare, unpainted metal rather than the negative terminal. Connecting these clamps to the negative terminal can be dangerous.
If a weak battery was the cause of the issues, you should be able to start your jeep once the cables are connected.
Starter Motor is Failing
If none of the things above have provided a solution, it could mean that the starter motor is failing. When the starter motor fails, you will sometimes hear a clicking or whining sound when you try to start the engine.
A sure sign of a failed starter motor is smoke from the engine when you start your car.
When the starter motor fails, the best solution is to replace the entire starter. Depending on the model of your Jeep, replacing the starter could cost between $100 and $550.
As a temporary solution, you can sometimes get a vehicle to start by carefully hitting the starter while someone else starts the car. You can see how this trick works in the video below.
Your Engine Could be Dying
In rare cases, this clicking sound could mean that engine is seized. The most common reason for engines to seize is driving them while they were too low on oil.
If you’re unsure whether the clicking is due to the starter or the engine, there is a relatively simple way to find out.
You can quickly rule out this issue with the engine by using a breaker bar to see if you can turn the center bolt on the crankshaft. If it turns without excessive force, your engine is not locked up.
Proper Jeep Maintenance Tips
The best way to avoid running into severe problems with your Jeep that are avoidable is to follow a proper maintenance routine.
One of the most essential parts of maintaining your jeep is checking the oil and other fluid levels. Running your car while low on crucial fluids like oil and transmission fluid can cause severe damage.
In addition, you ensure you keep up with the following:
- Have the oil changed at the recommended mileage intervals. (Usually every 3,000 miles)
- Change your engine air filter at the intervals recommended by your maintenance schedule.
- Keep an eye on your brake pads to avoid excessive wear that can cause damage to your rotors.
- Check belts and hoses to make sure they are all secure and do not show signs of excessive wear and tear.
- Have your tires rotated regularly.
Seek Professional Help
If you cannot pinpoint the issue, consider reaching out to a professional for help. If your Jeep is still under warranty, the problem may be covered.
To find out, you can always contact your local dealership. Additionally, you can pay to have a technician fix this issue if the Jeep is no longer under warranty.
My Jeep Won’t Start but It Turns Over
If your Jeep will start but not turn over, it’s most likely an issue with the spindle or drive located inside the starter. In some cases, you can have this repaired.
However, if you run into this issue, you will usually have to replace the entire starter.
Jeep Won’t Start but Has Power 2018+
If your Jeep won’t start even though it has power, the battery is still most likely the issue. The smaller electronic components of your Jeep, like the radio and lights, do not require as much power to run as it takes to start the engine.
You may be able to jump-start it and fix the issue. However, if the problem persists, you’ll need to replace the battery.
Jeep Wrangler JK Won’t Start One Click
If your Jeep Wrangler JK won’t start and you only hear one single click, it’s most likely a sign that your starter motor has failed. In order to get your Jeep running again, you will need to replace the starter.
It can be easy for the worst-case scenario to come to mind when you try to start your Jeep and get nothing but a clicking sound. Luckily, the clicking sound when you try to start your Jeep doesn’t usually mean that there’s a severe issue.
It can sometimes be as simple as jump-starting your Jeep to recharge the battery. However, other times it could require replacing the battery or starter.
If you cannot figure the issue out, having a professional look at the problem will most likely be the most straightforward option.
I’m William Guzenski, ASE certified master automobile technician & automotive expert. I love to attend race events and car shows throughout the country. I also loves to travel 40-foot motorhome, exploring abandoned mines and ghost towns. I’m currently building another car for Bonneville Salt Flats and will be campaigning a drag car at several events.