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Old 04-21-2013, 10:40 PM   #1
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Jeep Liberty 2008 Shift Interlock Cable

I have a 2008 Jeep Liberty 4WD Auto Transmission that I tow 4 wheels down behind my Newmar DSDP, and previously behind my Newmar BayStar gasser. I have had this arrangement for 3 years. When connected for towing, all I do is shift the transfer case into neutral as written in the Jeep owner manual, put the transmission into Park and remove the ignition key. The Jeep tracks behind me as expected and the front wheels do not lock up. I do NOT disconnect the battery negative cable, however, but since the transmission is in Park and the key removed, there is no power on. To the best of my knowledge, the Jeep was never towed behind a motorhome before I had the kit installed, and so should have been in a stock condition when I had the tow package installed.

Just recently I realized that during normal driving (non-towing), I can turn off the ignition and remove the key with the transmission still in "Drive", and if I forgot to pull up the parking brake, the Jeep will roll. My mechanic went through a number of part replacements, including steering column and ignition switch - fortunately covered under extended warranty - but did not find a problem. Then, he found that the ignition switch shift interlock cable was disconnected and tie wrapped under the dash! My mechanic explained the behavior I had experienced as being the result of the shift interlock cable being disconnected and that it must have been disconnected when the tow package was installed.

I don't like the idea of leaving the vehicle in a state where it will roll if I forget to apply the parking brake, even though I make every effort to remember it. If you can remove the key with the transmission still in "Drive", the brake is the only thing that will keep it from rolling, and thus a bothersome situation.

Question 1 - If you have a similar Jeep that is towed 4 wheels down, did you have to disconnect the shift interlock cable, ostensibly to keep the front wheels from locking during recreational towing operations? Or did you just have to attach the base plate, braking system and connection wiring, with no other mods to the Jeep.

Question 2 - If you have a similar Jeep that is towed 4 wheels down, can you remove the ignition key while the transmission is still in "Drive", thus leaving the Jeep susceptible to rolling unless the parking brake is applied?

Sorry to be long winded, but I wanted to describe the situation as much as possible.

Ken
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:12 AM   #2
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On my 07 Liberty you had to leave the key up one click to unlock the steering wheel and could not remove the key. On the 08 I don't think they had steering lock. Why they would have disconected the interlock I have no idea, but I don't think it would be necessary. As long as the transfer case is in neutral should be good to tow.
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Old 04-22-2013, 07:16 PM   #3
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If your transfer case is in neutral , the jeep will roll ,unless the parking brake is on .
After you take tow bars off , then put transfer case in 4 hi and transmission in park.
Perhaps your co driver can apply brakes if your on a hill
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Old 04-22-2013, 08:46 PM   #4
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I also have a 2008 Liberty with an automatic. When my transfer case is in neutral, if I put the transmission in Drive or any other position with the engine on or off, I cannot remove the key other than in Park. I can only guess that your cable was never connected or that it was disconnected when the base plate was installed.

There isn't anything in the owners manual that I saw concerning the position of the transmission other than Park and being able to pull the key.

I just returned from the Jeep and confirmed what I've said.

Hope you get everything reconnected. I've towed the Liberty for about 40,000 miles with no problems.

Good Luck

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Old 04-23-2013, 09:00 AM   #5
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So, for the 2008 Liberty, with the transfer case in Neutral, transmission in Park, and ignition key removed, the front wheels should be able to move right and left without locking, right?

And with the transfer case NOT in Neutral, you should only be able to remove the key when in Park?

Hopefully if I have my mechanic put back the shift interlock cable, nothing gets screwed up for towing. I would hate for the wheels to be locked in one direction or another while turning a corner. It seems to me that the shift interlock is only a safety thing to force you to put the transmission in Park before shutting off the engine and removing the key, and has nothing to do with towing activities. Why it was disconnected is a mystery. Now it's in my "trunk", so I'll have my guy put it back on.

Thanks for the insights.
Ken
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:52 AM   #6
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Sorry for any confusion. With the transfer case in either neutral or not, you can remove the key only when the transmission is in Park.

There is NO steering wheel lock on my Liberty, so with the key removed, the steering is free to turn while towing.

Although it takes a little muscle, you can prove it to yourself by putting the transmission in Park and, with the engine off, remove the key. Then turn the steering wheel in either direction. The steering will not lock up.

Good Luck

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Old 04-24-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
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Very interesting. My mechanic reconnected the shift interlock cable and the steering wheel will lock. With the shift interlock cable disconnected, the steering wheel will not lock. Not sure what that is about. So I just need to make sure the transmission is in Park and/or make sure the Parking brake is set every time. For some unknown reason, on my 2008 Liberty, I can remove the key when still in Drive, and if the parking brake is not set, it goes for a roll. I'm not sure whether this was a mid-2008 manufacturing change or whether when the tow package was first installed, they discovered the steering wheel locked and removed it then. In any case, I'll be more diligent in the future.

Thanks for the info.

Ken
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Old 04-24-2013, 04:43 PM   #8
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I have a 2012 Liberty, and I just checked. In park with key removed I CAN turn the steering wheel. I wonder if this change took place in 2008 and, depending on the time of year the Jeep was made, that some had the interlock and some do not??? Just guessing here folks.
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Old 04-24-2013, 05:14 PM   #9
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I took delivery of mine in April, 2008. There had been an engineering hold on the Liberty involving some production problems. Mine was built immediately after that. Perhaps they made a change at that point.

If you elect to keep the cable installed, you will need a battery disconnect, since the ignition switch will have to be in the second position to unlock the steering wheel and it will discharge the battery (experience before I found that there wasn't a steering wheel lock on mine). I got one from the local NAPA auto parts store.

Good Luck.

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