1999 Jeep Cherokee, Ignition Switch Will Not Turn Off

This 1999 Jeep Cherokee came in with the complaint that the key would not turn off. I pulled it in the shop and pulled the fuel pump relay from the under hood fuse box so the engine would die.


The customer had already made a mess of the steering column covers so I actually had to put it back together to show how easy it is to remove the lock cylinder on this vehicle. The key has to be on, in order to depress the retaining pin through the steering column lower cover as shown below.

A better picture of the pin or button that has to be depressed with the key on. Much harder to do if the lock cylinder gets stuck in the off position.

Once the pin is depressed the lock cylinder will pull out of the steering column housing. Slide a new on and it is done.

This customer opted for a slightly less expensive preassembled lock cylinder. I prefer the ones that come as a kit. That way it can be set up for the original key.

6 discussions on “1999 Jeep Cherokee, Ignition Switch Will Not Turn Off”

  1. I’ve got a 99 Cherokee,my ignition has always been a bit hard to turn to on position past the lock point…that said arriving at work last week,when I went to turn it off a “snap sound” happened…key then just spun and had to pull my coil wire to shut it off…and battery terminal so there was no power drain during my day at work.i managed to get it running again at the end of my day and made it home with a “new” lock cylinder from auto parts store…once again had to pull coil wire and battery cable to shut it down. Replaced the old broken one with my brand new one….easy peasy…truck still won’t shut off….even with new cylinder…i also a couple weeks ago had a new starter put in .but had to put in a push button,as my ignition wouldn’t engage the starter(but would turn truck off) now it won’t do either..even with new key cylinder …any ideas?!
    Thanks ahead of time!,james

      1. I haven’t seen any actual breakage..i was thinking maybe ignition switch actuator pin or ignition switch itself…is there a way I can wire in a switch to kill the running motor…as I live 30 kms out of town in the bush…and to get to town and shut it off…ive had to pull my coil wire..and then battery terminal….pulling coil wire is a “shocking” experience i dont enjoy 🙂 , but i will have to try and do(redneck) something to get me into town and back.any suggestions would be amazing! Thanks so much!

        1. There is a rod in the intermediate housing that connects the lock cylinder that you turn to the electrical portion of the ignition switch. An easy way to overcome the situation is to remove the electrical portion of the ignition switch and turn it off and on with a screwdriver until you can properly repair the system.

  2. Lock cylinders for the most part are designed so they cannot be removed unless you have a key to rotate it into the on position. Since this lock cylinder would not turn off, it was already on and could be easily changed.

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