How To Start Your Jeep Cherokee Without A Key?

Late to work and can’t find your car keys again? We aren’t judging; it’s happened to us more than we’d like to admit. If you’re among the millions of Jeep Cherokee owners who regularly lose their keys or just want to be prepared for every possibility, then we have the perfect fix(es) for you.

How To Start Your Jeep Cherokee Without A Key

Your Jeep is a wonderful road companion, and the hassle of lost or dead keys should not stop you from hitting the roads like a champion. If you’ve had a fob die on you or keys jump ship, you’re familiar with the pain and frustration. However, if you’re a Jeep Cherokee owner, prepare to have your life made easier with these three ways to start your car without a key!

3 Ways to Start a Jeep Cherokee Without a Key

There are three ways you can start your Jeep Cherokee without the key. The solution depends on the kind of fob and the ignition type of your Cherokee model. 

If you have a dead key fob and push start ignition, there is a really convenient way to start the car without the key. This is a built-in company feature, so it’s the most reliably effective.

Most modern Jeep Cherokee models with push start also have a hidden key ignition cylinder on the steering wheel. So, if your key fob has a hidden key feature, then you can use that easy peasy; but then, if you did, you wouldn’t be here, would you? 

If your Jeep Cherokee has a simple key cylinder ignition, then there are a couple of complicated ways to start it without the key.

Method1: Starting a Jeep Cherokee When the Key Fob is Dead or Not Responding

Starting a Jeep Cherokee when the key fob is dead or not responding

Many Jeep customers face trouble starting their Cherokees because of the key fob not being recognized or suddenly running out of battery. Now before you reach for a new pack of fob batteries, bear in mind that the former is usually the culprit. 

More importantly, however, the newer models have a smart feature that will allow you to start the car with a dead fob. Here’s how you start your Jeep Cherokee with a dead or unresponsive fob:

  • First, place the on/off side of the fob over the start button.
  • Second, step on the brake pedal.
  • Third, press the start button using the key fob while stepping on the brake.

That’s it! Just wait for a second, and the car will start!

On the other hand, if this solution doesn’t work for some reason or if your Jeep uses a key cylinder ignition system, then you have a couple of options. 

Method 2: Starting a Jeep Cherokee With a Screwdriver

Starting a Jeep Cherokee with a screwdriver

Using a screwdriver to start your Jeep Cherokee is the quickest way to get the job done. To get this done right, you’ll need to access the screw securing the key cylinder. You’ll find it at the very back of the cylinder.

Once you locate it, unscrew it and remove the key cylinder to have a view of the tumblers. 

Insert your screwdriver into the tumblers, and once you’ve found the correct position, the tumblers will pop out.

Now that you’ve removed the tumblers, you can go ahead and turn the ignition to start the Jeep!

Method 3: Starting a Jeep Cherokee By Replacing the Ignition Cylinder and Key Assy 

Jeep Cherokee Ignition Cylinder

If none of the above solutions are working for you, then it’s time to go ahead and remove the entire cylinder and key assy.

While this seems complicated at first, it’s not that hard once you understand the steps and take them slowly and carefully. 

Remember to buy a new ignition cylinder and key assy from the nearest auto store. Both products are cheap and inexpensive so they won’t cost much. 

  1. Grab a screwdriver and carefully remove the steering wheel. To do this, find the plastic caps covering the screws, take them off and unscrew the wheel. 
  2. Take off the steering wheel and disconnect the wires going from it (remember to reconnect these when you’re done). 
  3. You’ll notice a lock plate under the steering wheel. Go ahead and remove that, as well as the plastic horn ring beneath it. 
  4. Once you remove the horn ring, you’ll immediately see the signal switch.
  5. Gently pull the signal switch upwards until you see the cylinder and key assy. 
  6. Below the cylinder, you’ll see a small pin lock. Press on the pin lock to release the cylinder and key assy. 
  7. Remove the old cylinder and key assy and replace them with new ones. Reconnect the steering wheel’s wires and put it back on. 

This should solve the ignition issues completely. However, this is a technical task and should be left to the professionals if you have no idea what you’re doing.


Can I start my Jeep Cherokee without a key?

Yes. If you don’t have the key, you can use a screwdriver after removing the key cylinder. If that doesn’t work, you will have to remove the ignition cylinder and key assy (the ignition wiring) and replace them with a new one.

Why is my key fob not working with a fresh battery? 

Your key fob might be having trouble being recognized by the car’s electronics or have a broken wire connection issue inside.

How do I start my Jeep Cherokee with a dead/unresponsive key fob? 

Place the on/off end of the fob on the push start button. Step on the brake and then press the start button with the fob. 

How do you start a push-start Jeep Cherokee without the key fob?

You must locate the hidden ignition cylinder if you lose the key fob. It will be somewhere on or near the wheel, hidden by a cap. Look for a round indent to locate the cap and remove it. Now just use a screwdriver and start!

What will happen if I remove the lock cylinders incorrectly? 

If you remove the lock cylinder incorrectly, you risk damaging your car’s ignition system. If you don’t have any technical knowledge of cars, it’s advisable to hire a professional to reduce the risk of damage.


Losing your keys or having your fob die on you can be frustrating and nerve-wracking for most Jeep Cherokee users. However, you will no longer be a part of this group with our three easy hacks to get your Jeep Cherokee started without a key! While Jeep has you covered if your fob dies or has connection issues, you’re pretty much on your own with your trusty screwdriver if you want to get your Cherokee started. Alternatively, you can always call the mechanic if you have no knowledge of cars and can spare the extra cash.