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Jeep Grand Cherokee lock-out a steep, valuable learning curve

October 18, 2016
Jeep Grand Cherokee lock-out a steep, valuable learning curve

It was a real surprise when my Jeep Grand Cherokee Quadra-Lift, Adventure Pack MY13 DPchipped diesel locked me out.

The 3500kg max trailer and 350kg on the tow ball 4WD never raised a serious problem, just replacement of two fuses and a faulty headlight, both replaced under warranty over three years.

Now I stood on the outside of my car clicking unlock on the remote access fob and only drew a blank.

The immediate visual stopper, the Jeep's tail-lights red glow, hit my eyes as I thought, "what the . . . . next?"

As the vehicle's manual was locked in the Jeep's glove box I engaged grey matter and remembered the comprehensive Jeep owner's manual advice on emergency key access.

It certainly helps to read manuals.

So I slide across the release latch to the key hidden in my remote access fob, slid the key into the driver's side door lock, and breathed a sigh of satisfaction when the door opened.

But that was just the start of a steep, valuable learning curve.

Once in the driver's seat, the only indication of power in the Grand Cherokee was the red glow of the Electronic Brake Controller accessory.

Everything else was on strike.

The tail-lights could not be turned off.

There was no access to the battery under the passenger seat as the powered seat could not be moved.

With no controls operating none of the other three passenger doors or the tailgate could be opened.

My first thought was relief that nobody, particularly a child or a pet had been trapped in the vehicle.

Then my mind shifted to remote situations. What then?

On a blazing summer day, off the mobile grid, this situation would be deadly serious.

All my gear is in the vehicle.

My tools are with the spare tyre under the cargo deck and now locked away from access.

So is my onboard WAECO fridge and Powertop backup battery.

When camping your correspondent carries 10 litres of drinking water on the floor behind the passenger seat. It would be immovable with the passenger seat full back to hold the portable water container firmly in place.

The same seat and locked passenger doors block my fix it plan to disconnect the battery, wait a bit, and then reconnect. It is electrically impossible.

After many years with computers, I know that rebooting is the first step in troubleshooting, but that idea was shot.

So fresh out of ideas your correspondent blessed joining Jeep Assist and called them for the first time in three years. This produced a satisfying result. Ten minutes later, to the second, their contractor Global Assistance arrived.

Pleased that I had the driver's door open the tooled-up technician applied a battery pack to the stranded Grand Cherokee to bring its electrics online. But after concerted attempts, no go.

This meant a flatbed tow truck tray ride for the Grand Cherokee with its Quadra-Lift suspension.

But first, more instruction, the Jeeps 4WD transfer case must be in neutral and the transmission in Park to allow it to be moved onto the tow truck tray without damage.

Wheel lift or Dolly Tow is not recommended in 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee models.

Towing in this way will damage the transmission and transfer case. Flatbed piggy-back is the best way to go the Jeep Owners' manual says. Also, the Grand Cherokee must not be tied to the tow truck tray by front or rear suspension components.

It is essential that a Quadra-Lift Grand Cherokee is in Park and lowered to its lowest level with automatic levelling disabled before it is tied down from the body on a flatbed tow truck.

On this occasion, habit helped us as I always lower the Grand Cherokee when parking. I had done this the night before the Jeep shut me out.

The Grand Cherokee Quadra-Lift suspension requires the engine running to do its kneeling camel impression.

If the Jeep had not been lowered tow truck tie-downs must be fastened to the axles. If this is not done fault codes may be set or proper tie-down tension lost.

The Jeep Assist driver of the most beautifully cared for flatbed tow truck I have ever seen gave a masterful exhibition.

He managed retrieval of a 2355 kg Kerb Weight Jeep Grand Cherokee from a confined, right-angle park using an adjustable pulley sheave and a remote control to his electric winch and set sail for our regular service centre Bayside Jeep at Frankston.

Daniel Brown, Service Advisor at Bayside Jeep, was under the pump, but he did his best.

As usual, this was better than best.

His technicians found that the Wireless Control Module (WCM) had failed plus the ELV module which feeds information to the steering column.

Neither was talking to the Grand Cherokee's computer management system. Both modules have a four-digit PIN code. No talkie, the Grand Cherokee locked down.

Although the Grand Cherokee was out of warranty Daniel acted on his own initiative and got Chrysler's approval to provide replacement modules at no charge. Your correspondent's share of a total potential repair bill of more than $2000 was $500 for labour.

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