'96 XJ Won't Start, Odd Problem, NSS? Help! - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-17-2012, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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1996 XJ Cherokee 
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Location: Phoenix
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'96 XJ Won't Start, Odd Problem, NSS? Help!

So, here's a quick rundown of how and when it stopped working. Trying to give as much info as possible and I'll try to keep it fairly brief, because I'm in a bad spot due to this thing not starting and the whole situation is incredibly frustrating.

Last Thursday night I buy this '96 XJ 2WD w/ auto trans. Was told there were no issues at all, but I knew the A/C compressor was going bad (groaning loudly). Over the weekend, the A/C compressor dies and the groaning mostly goes away, along with any cold air being blown. Not a HUGE deal, as I can survive w/o A/C for a short amount of time and it seemed to run fine despite that going out.

Sunday night, I'm backing up into a parking spot and notice I don't have any reverse lights. Odd, but I never thought to check that when buying it, so I figured it was a fuse or bulbs.

Yesterday, I drive it up to a store and it's running fine. Park it and my girlfriend are in there for probably about an hour. Go to start it up and it seems the battery is dead. It tries to crank, but won't start. With each turn of the ignition, I get less and less. Call a friend to come give me a jump. He gets there about a half hour later. Go to crank it and get nothing.

Check the fuses on the passenger side in the engine bay and notice one of the big 30A fuses (the front, right most) is blown. Don't know when it blew, but I figured when trying to jump it. Pull one of the other fuses and toss it in there and it blows as soon as I turn the ignition and nothing happens. Get some more fuses and same thing. Realize now I was likely blowing that one due to the other being pulled. Head home leaving the truck in the store's parking lot. That brings me to this morning.

I go out and buy some more fuses, put them where they're all supposed to be and turn the ignition and get absolutely nothing. When I turn the key past the "ON" position to crank it, it's as if I'm doing nothing at all.

When I put the key in and turn it to ON/accessories, the gauges move, the buzzer sounds, all the lights work, etc, but it doesn't even try to crank.

After doing some reading and calling the guy who sold it to me, I determined it is likely the NSS. The previous owner admitted to me that there have been times where he had to wiggle the shifter to get it started and with the reverse lights being out, that just made sense to me. After doing reading I bypassed the sensor by doing this:

I did this, along with a couple other variations I saw online and there were no changes at all. Couple questions with this. Do I have to bridge those to wires, then reconnect the connector? Based on what others were saying, it didn't sound like that was necessary and that I could leave it disconnected. Also, to confirm the reverse lights aren't working, if I put the key into the "ON" position and shift into reverse, should I get reverse lights despite the car not being started?

I've since tried jumping it with that bridged, amongst other things (tapping on the starter, cleaning the battery terminals a bit, etc). Everything I'm doing, I'm doing in a grocery store parking lot in a dirty, oily spot and it's currently over 100*f outside. Between that and my currently limited access to tools, I haven't been able to do too much thoroughly.

When I put the key in and turn it on, most of the gauges stay about where they are, but the voltmeter does go up (little over halfway between 9 and 14) and the BRAKE, GEN and CEL light up and then go off after a few seconds. Like I said, all the lights seem to work and the radio was, too. But when I go to crank it, it's as if I'm doing nothing at all.

Any help is greatly appreciated. This is my only vehicle at the moment and it's been an absolute nightmare thus far.

Also, this is possibly completely unrelated, but what is this?

Near the steering column up towards my right knee and gets very hot.

Thanks in advance, any and everyone.

pat_ernzen is offline  
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-17-2012, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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1996 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Phoenix
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And I have a feeling I'll just get linked to some other threads, and that's fine. I just wanted to give specific details and get answers to some questions I've had. I've absolutely scoured this forum, others and Google in general over the last ~24 hours. Getting incredibly frustrated with all of it and so disappointed by the whole situation. Hate to make this my first post/thread here, but I just feel lost/confused and figure anything I can get from here should at least help and I'm hoping it's just some little thing I'm overlooking that you knowledgeable folks will be able to see based on the details of my specific issues/circumstances.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-17-2012, 08:04 PM
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It does sound like your NSS needs cleaned.
As for getting it home, I think your jumper wire is misplaced. A jumper to bypass the park/start circuit should be installed like this.

Leave the connector disconnected but realize it will start in gear with the jumper in place and you'll definitely have no reverse lights until you fix or replace the switch. Care should be taken to not allow the jumper wire to short out against anything else under the hood.

A jumper like this should illuminate the reverse lights for testing purposes.

Your last picture is of a capacitor, frequently used for signal filtering purposes. They do get warm in use and failure mode often generates excessive heat.
Good luck getting her running again.


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But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille."

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post #4 of 9 Old 07-17-2012, 08:44 PM
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
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The 30 your blowing is the fuse for the ac clutch. Clutch bearing goes bad shorts it out.

If its stock it sucks and if it scares the hell outta ya its just about right!
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-17-2012, 10:41 PM
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1996 XJ Cherokee 
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First, check the free stuff. Swap your ASD relay with another known working relay. Attempt to start your car. Still not working? Check your engine grounds. Pull the grounds, sand everything, clean it up, and reconnect. Still not working? Check for secondary spark at the distributor. Pull one sparkplug and attach either an old sparkplug with the electrode removed or a good piece of wire and hold it about a quarter of an inch from a known working engine ground. Try to start the car. If you have a strong blue spark, you have adequate secondary spark. Strong and blue are the key words there. If you don't have secondary spark, start checking your cap and rotor, along with your sparks. If those are good, test impedance on your ignition coil. If you do have secondary spark, move on to the fuel rail side. Get a noid light and check to see if your injectors have spark. If they do have spark, check fuel pressure at the rail. Should be 49 PSI for a 96 XJ. If you don't have fuel pressure, change your fuel filter. If it's still not running, I would bet it is your fuel pump. If however, your injectors don't have spark, backprobe your Crankshaft Position Sensor (CKP). Your car will turn over but you won't get spark with a bad CKP. You need 5 volts from your CKP in pulses to your PCM (Powertrain Control Module...computer) for your PCM to tell your injectors to fire.

The above will solve probably 95+% of all starting system problems in an XJ. If that doesn't solve it, check and replace your NSS if needed. In pretty rare cases, a blown coolant temperature sensor will cause your XJ not to start. Your coolant temperature sensor is located on your thermostat housing on the cylinder head, right above your water pump.

Always make sure that your wiring is adequate and not blown. Always check fuses and relays first. Remember, check free stuff first, inexpensive stuff second and then expensive stuff last. Don't simply throw parts at it. Don't try cheap fixes like bypassing a sensor...it will only cause future problems. Invest a few dollars and buy a decent voltmeter. Learn how to use it...it's easy.

If you don't know how to work on a Jeep, you really don't deserve to own one. Build it, don't simply buy it.

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post #6 of 9 Old 07-18-2012, 03:39 PM
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hey Pat ... not forgoing the above recommendations, I'd also highly recommend checking the battery (you indicated "the voltmeter does go up (little over halfway between 9 and 14)" ... in all cases, you need to ensure your battery is good before messing around with everything else ... i.e. a solid 12v minimum, but close to 14v is best ... if the battery is not delivering the correct voltage to the electrical system, most probably it is causing a lot of your issues, and that is a major issue with the Jeeps ... I was having a lot of starting/stalling issues and was convinced it was starter, alternator, etc., and was pretty sure it couldn't be the battery ... but it turned out to be the battery! ... on mine, the reverse lights randomly come on when i put it into reverse ... i wiggle the shifter, or move it in/out of reverse and then all is good ... my NSS is original and i know that it is probably dirty and needs cleaning, but i'm good for now ... good luck!
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-19-2012, 10:23 AM
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Crawl under passenger side of jeep with a long screwdriver.
Locate the starter.
Use the screwdriver to make a connection from the 2 terminals on your starter.
Does the jeep turn over and start?

That should tell you a lot.

ps: make sure its in park or neutral before doing this.

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post #8 of 9 Old 11-02-2014, 08:17 AM
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NSS 96 Jeep Bypass

I have seen a lot of posts on how to bypass the NSS to get your jeep to start and all of them have been incorrect so i am going to give the correct directions here.

If you turn your key and your jeep wont crank then follow these steps:

1. check your battery using a voltmeter. disconnect your battery cables and check the battery for around 12.5-12.7 volts. If you have the correct voltage your battery is good proceed to step 2.

2. Attempt to start your jeep again and make sure there are no faults on the dash. Turn the key on, off, on, off, on in 5 secs and check for a blinking check engine light... If you get 55 then you have no fault codes stored in your computer. How to count, " count the blinks, there is a gap between the first and second digit" Also if you disconnected the battery you will get a 12 which is "battery disconnected recently"

3. Turn off the jeep and remove your keys from the ignition. Go the the fuse box which is located on the driver side left corner under the steering column. Check all fuses and make sure no fuses are blown...If there is one change it.

4. Go to the front of your jeep...Locate the passenger side firewall. Just past the starter looking down into the engine towards the fire wall are 3 connectors. (4 pin, 6 pin, 8 pin) The NSS is the 8 pin black long connector and it should be at the bottom of the 3 connectors. Release back clip and pull connector apart.

5. This part is the key... with the connector apart you will have 2 ends...one end is a male and one is a female. Every other post will tell you to add a jumper on the female connection but that will do nothing at all. Instead strip the ends of your wire exposing about a 1/4 of an inch of bare wire on either side. Take the male connector in your hand and look at it carefully. You want to short the middle pins together B,C which are right next to each other on the bottom row of connectors. Be sure not to touch any other pins together or you will get a spark and that of course is not good. Once you have done this leave the connector apart with the short connected on pins B,C.

6. Go inside your jeep and start it. It should crank over and you should be up and running at this point. BE AWARE THAT YOU WILL HAVE NO BACK UP LIGHTS WHILE THE SHORT IS IN PLACE!!

7. It is up to you how long you leave the short in or how you secure it. The NSS can be cleaned if you have the time to take it apart and clean it. Sometimes that will fix your issue but if you have to replace it good luck cause it is very costly. $400 dollar repair or more if replaced by a shop.

If your like me my jeep runs perfectly expect for the NSS acting up. I am leaving the short in cause i don't think the cost of the repair is worth it for a worthless vehicle. My jeep is in mint condition but still my insurance company will only give me $500.00 for it if i wreck it so yeah that repair isn't worth it for me. I havent even hit 150,000 miles yet either.

Thanks for reading and best of luck with your NSS.
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post #9 of 9 Old 11-30-2015, 03:29 PM
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did you fix it?
fallentryerie is offline  

neutral safety switch , nss , problems , starter , won't start

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