Why Are Jeep Wrangler Dash Lights Going Crazy? How To Fix?

Your Jeep is trying to tell you something; if your dashboard is flickering and flashing like a Christmas tree — it needs your help! Jeep Wrangler dash lights can go crazy due to a bad/dying battery, corrosion on the terminals, a faulty ignition switch, an improperly connected terminal, a loose connection, added accessories, corrosion, a short out, malfunctioning alternator, and many other issues. Find out more about flickering dash lights.

What Happens When Jeep Wrangler Dash Lights Go Crazy?

While driving, you see your Jeep Wrangler dash lights start going crazy. Suddenly, the dash and exterior lights go off and then come back on several times. The “check TPM” light flashes, then your tire pressure readings light up, and your airbag light lights up. All gauges, radio, and high beam lights drop in and out. It progressively gets worse over time. You might think it will blow, but it’s fine. 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021 Jeep Wranglers are prone to this issue. Sometimes, the Jeep Wrangler won’t start with the dash lights flashing.

Jeep Wrangler Dash Lights Going Crazy

This Jeep Wrangler dash lights going crazy effect is known as the Christmas light effect and is caused mainly by battery-related issues.

Why Are Jeep Wrangler Dash Lights Going Crazy? What’s the Solution?

If your Jeep Wrangler’s all warning lights are on, your batteries likely have issues. Potential causes of Jeep Wrangler dash lights going crazy include:

1. Bad Battery

  • A dying battery can cause your Jeep Wrangler dash lights to go crazy. It can have bad cells or not charge properly.
    In this case, take your car to test your batteries at your local auto parts store. A proper load test for the battery is needed. Have the battery tested to see if some plates are shorting and on their way out. Your battery might be load-tested fine on a heavy cranking load. Just put a light load on it and see if the voltage fluctuates up and down. Check it with the engine running to see if the voltage fluctuates. Check to see if the voltage is too high as well. I would ensure it is not the battery and/or regulator when the engine is running. If your battery is 4 years old, you should replace it anyway. Buy a replacement battery, and all the electrical problems will stop. 
  • It can be the main computer plug, located directly under the battery. It might get worse when it rains. If that is the case, it could be filled with water.
    In this case, remove the battery and the battery holder. Open up the connector. Clean and wrap in a plastic bag. All your gauges and turn signals will work perfectly.
  • Water can pool around your AUX battery and drain it. Water can flow from the drain to the battery compartment and pool. Or some water got into the connectors under the fuse tray and possibly shorted out some connections. In both cases, the Jeep Wrangler dash lights will go crazy.
    In this case, get to the AUX battery. Take it out and do the dual battery install.
Bad Battery

2. Improperly Connected Terminal

Sometimes it boils down to a loose ground wire or connector on the battery. If that is the case, then if you hit a big bump, your entire dash will light up, and you’ll see Jeep Wrangler dash lights flashing on and off. Gauges will stop working, no turn signals. 

To solve this issue, have your battery tested and check your terminal connections first. Tighten the battery terminals. Trace for a loose wire or ground.

To Check the Terminals:

  • With a 10 mm socket, take out the nut holding the terminal in place.
  • Make sure the terminal is firmly seated at the post’s base by pressing down on it.
  • Squeeze the terminal behind the point where it meets the post using a perfect needle nose (or other small pliers). By doing so, the slight variation or gap will be eliminated.
  • Thread the nut tightly onto the bolt before reinserting it.
  • Verify every other connection and terminal.

You can buy a set of adjustable terminals. Jeep’s versions are not adjustable (cheaper), which is why you have these issues.

3. Bad/Loose Battery Connection

It could be a loose connector in the gauge cluster or low voltage from the battery. Connectors on the back of the instrument cluster have affected more than a few Jeeps. It’s usually the ground fingers that aren’t making good contact. 

See if the battery terminals are even the slightest bit loose. If they are, make them tighter. Buy a battery post adapter/expander from the auto parts store to get their crappy OEM battery terminals to fit tightly onto the battery post. You won’t see your Jeep Wrangler lights flashing on and off.

4. Corrosion on the Terminals

Corrosion on the terminals can slowly build up and cause resistance. You may see all the gauges on the dash going crazy. Remove the terminals, clean them up, and reinstall the connectors; the problem will disappear. 

When you reinstall the battery, ensure that you clean the battery clamps. There are special wire brushes for that purpose. Once you’ve put the battery clamps back on and cleaned up and inspected the various connections, spray just a tad of WD-40 on the battery terminals and clamps every time you change the oil. That will keep corrosion from starting up.

5. Bad Ground Connection

If your Jeep Wrangler’s ground connection isn’t solid, you could run into a range of electrical issues. The battery’s negative terminal is connected to the body or chassis of the Wrangler. However, the engine also needs grounding, but its mounting prevents current flow to the body, so a ground strap or wire connects the engine to the chassis.

When this ground connection corrodes or rusts, you may encounter problems like clicking noises, flickering dash lights, or difficulty starting the engine. The starter motor may struggle to turn over the engine if it’s weak because it relies on this connection.

To check the ground connection, use a multimeter to test the conductivity between the negative battery terminal, the chassis/body, and the engine. Zero ohms or close to it indicates a good connection. If the test fails, inspect the ground cable connectors for rust or corrosion and clean them with sandpaper if necessary.

Also, Jeep Wrangler dash lights flicker because of loose battery terminals. Ensure they’re tightly secured, as loose terminals can impede electrical flow. Over time, driving vibrations can loosen these terminals, so periodic checks and tightening are essential.

Keep an eye on the ground connection, especially in older Jeeps or those driven off-road, as rust can degrade this vital link. Ensure the connection is secure to prevent problems like malfunctioning dashboard lights or flashing instrument panels.

6. Short Out

It might turn out that it is the battery shorting itself. Also, check if the wiring got exposed, causing your Jeep Wrangler dash lights to flash on and off.

It can also be a module that shorts. Or a pinched wiring harness behind the dash causes the data bus to short out.

In this case, recheck the connections and the wiring. Also, diagnose the modules to see if any error codes are stored.
Electrical shorts often cause Wrangler dash lights to start acting erratic, especially if the vehicle has been driven through water or mud. These conditions can lead to corrosion on wires and electrical shorts.

Therefore, it’s essential to thoroughly inspect the vehicle, especially if exposed to deep water, to identify any signs of corrosion or electrical shorts that may be causing the dashboard lights to behave strangely.

7. Corrosion in the Grips

Over time, the electrical connectors behind your dashboard can develop corrosion as the vehicle ages, leading to poor current flow. If that’s the issue, you must address the corrosion to restore proper functionality.

To remove the corrosion, you can use a rust remover or WD-40 to thoroughly clean the affected grips and connections. Once cleaned, start your Jeep, and with any luck, this should resolve the problem of Jeep Wrangler dash lights flashing.

8. Moisture in the Computer Cable

Sometimes, after heavy rainfall, water can seep into the grips of the computer chip connected to your Jeep’s battery. While this connection is typically well-protected under the battery, it can still attract moisture, leading to issues with your dash lights.

To address this, you’ll need to carefully clean up any moisture around the grip area and ensure the grip end is tightly plugged in. By doing so, you can hopefully resolve any battery-related issues and end your Jeep Wrangler’s erratic dash light behavior.

9. Scan for Error Codes

Think of scanning for error codes like your car dropping hints when something’s off. You’ll find the OBD-II port under your dashboard – that’s where you plug in the scanner, and it starts deciphering your car’s messages.

So what is the function of the scanner? It retrieves these error codes, which are essentially coded messages left by your car’s computer. Each code points to a specific issue, telling you what needs attention, whether it’s sensors acting up or emission concerns.

It might be necessary to use specialized software to decode these codes. What is the point? Scanning for error codes is like asking your car what’s wrong with it. It keeps your Jeep operating smoothly by identifying issues early on, such as a cranky sensor or a potential electrical hiccup.

10. Faulty Ignition Switch

If you run the diagnostic, the code might show that the issue is the ignition switch. The ignition switch sometimes goes bad. Once in a while, you start it, and the malfunction light comes on with the speedometer and RPM gauges both dark. Sometimes, if you try to pull the malfunction code, you get an error message saying there is no code to read or clear.

You might have a faulty switch that is new. Without a connection inside the switch, you will see the Jeep Wrangler dash lights going crazy.

To solve this issue, take your car in for the recall replacement. There might be a recall for the ignition switch. Replace the ignition switch. Remove the ignition switch and clean it up if there is no recall. Once you plug it back in, you’re ready to go. 

Try to clean the contact area with an emery cloth and gently bend them, so the connection is better. So, if you look at the white cover, there is an indent in the center where these spring tabs line up. Take a piece of foam about the size of a sugar cube, cover it with a piece from the side of a Javex bottle, and tape it with some electrical tape. Reassemble the switch, and it’s back to normal. Obviously, the new switch can be defective as well.

Also, for the ignition switch, pick up a can of CRC electrical contact cleaner at the parts store. Use the straw that comes with the can and spray that into the ignition switch, stick your key in, and rotate it around. Do that quickly, because the cleaner evaporates almost immediately. Do it several times.

11. Added Accessories

Suppose you have added accessories (winch and fogs) attached directly to the battery post. In that case, chances are your Jeep Wrangler dash lights are going crazy because of a loose battery connection.

Some Jeep electronic sway bars have a factory defect. The electronic board inside the bar gets wet and causes all kinds of electronic problems when plugged in. Sometimes an adapter that is connected can be short and interfere with your electrical system. 

To solve it, recheck the battery connections and move some attachments if they are directly connected to the battery and not to any OEM wiring. Unplug the added accessories from the battery to see if it still happens. Everything should go back to normal. 

If you have the electronic sway bar option on your Jeep and are experiencing these issues, try unplugging it.

Get a new adapter to see what happens.

12. Malfunctioning Alternator

If your Jeep lights are flashing on and off, it can indicate an alternator issue. This component is vital in distributing electricity throughout your vehicle and replenishing the battery while driving. Beyond just the headlights and dash lights, the alternator powers various electronics in your car, including the power steering, windows, wipers, and audio system.

When the alternator isn’t functioning properly, it can affect your vehicle’s electronics, leading to flickering dash lights and other malfunctions. One common problem with a faulty alternator is a bad voltage regulator, which can cause various components to fail due to irregular voltage levels.

Without a functioning alternator, your car’s internal systems may malfunction, and you may notice strange lights turning on in the dashboard. It’s crucial to promptly address issues with the alternator to ensure the proper functioning of your vehicle’s electrical system.

13. Parasitic Loss

When your Jeep’s dashboard lights are flashing and clicking, parasitic loss could be the culprit. But what exactly is parasitic loss, and why does it happen?

When something in your car drains the battery, usually after modifications are made, you experience parasitic loss. For example, if you installed an aftermarket stereo but didn’t connect everything correctly, it might function fine but start draining power from your system. This mysterious battery drain is what we call parasitic loss.

You’ll need to dive into some deep troubleshooting to fix this issue. That’s why it’s best to visit a car electrician who can help you sort out the problem.

14. Blown Fuse or Relay

When your Jeep Wrangler warning lights act up, it’s important to consider the role of relays and fuses in the electrical system. These components ensure everything runs smoothly.

Pop the hood to see if every large fuse is sitting correctly. For every fuse that is not firmly seated, press down on it until there is a click.

Checking Blown Fuse

Specific relays and fuses are assigned to the dashboard lights, so inspecting them for any signs of failure is wise. Replace a blown fuse with the same amperage rating.

Sometimes, the issue may lie with the fuse box itself, hindering current flow to the lights. All the lights in your Jeep are connected to fuses housed in the fuse box, which is a central power distribution source.

If the main current source is damaged or loose, it can cause your dash lights to malfunction.

Check the source wires for any breaks. Ensure the wires are securely attached to the fuse box to restore proper functionality to your dash lights. This simple fix should resolve the issue quickly and effectively.

15. Bad Control Modules

A control module like the heated seat control module can have issues. It can throw the whole system out of whack when it goes bad.

Check the modules for any error codes that may be present. If they have any issues, swap them out.

16. PCM Problem

The Powertrain Control Module (PCM) acts as the brain overseeing the vital functions of your Jeep, managing various key systems. If there isn’t a battery-related issue causing flickering dash lights, the PCM is likely the problem. To resolve this, you’ll need to replace the PCM.

17. TIPM Issue

Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) is a vital control unit in vehicles like Jeeps. It centrally manages and distributes electrical power, impacting essential functions throughout the vehicle.

Your Jeep’s dash lights may go crazy if there are any problems with the TIPM. In that case, consult a professional technician. Replacing the TIPM would fix this issue.

18. Software Issues

If you own a 2014 model-year Jeep Grand Cherokee, there’s a chance you might have encountered issues with your instrument cluster. This problem was widespread enough for Chrysler to issue a recall in October 2013, affecting 132,000 vehicles. The recall was prompted by reports of warning lights randomly turning on or the entire cluster blacking out.

Chrysler identified the root cause of this malfunction as a flawed anti-lock braking system (ABS) module software. As part of the recall service, Chrysler offered to upgrade the software to address the issue. If you own a 2014 Grand Cherokee and haven’t received notification from Chrysler about the recall, it’s advisable to visit your dealer to inquire about potential solutions.

However, if your Jeep isn’t part of the recall, the problem with your instrument cluster may not be specific to the brand. In such cases, it’s essential to seek assistance from your dealer or a qualified technician to diagnose and resolve the issue.

19. Instrument Cluster Failure

If you’re experiencing persistent issues with your dashboard lights, the culprit could be a complete failure of the instrument cluster. This type of failure can occur unexpectedly and may result in the incorrect or erratic display of lights on the dashboard.

To resolve this problem, you’ll likely need to replace the faulty instrument cluster. Depending on your Jeep’s age and warranty status, you may opt for a used or new unit. Installing a new cluster should permanently fix the problem with the lights and restore proper functionality to your dashboard.

20. Reset the Battery

Sometimes all that’s required is a reboot of the system. To do that, disconnect your negative AUX battery cable from the main negative block, and sit for several minutes. The longer, the better. See if it clears it up.

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Final Words

The battery plays a crucial role in powering your car’s electrical system. If the battery isn’t working correctly, it could cause your Jeep Wrangler dash lights to go crazy. It’s best to have your battery tested and, if required, install a new one. Also, check the wiring and terminals if your Jeep Wrangler dash lights are going crazy. We hope you’ll never have the Christmas light effect again!

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