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Chris, Shop Foreman
Category: Jeep
Satisfied Customers: 13562
Experience:  Jeep Certified Master Tech
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1998 jeep cherokee: steering column..the ignition switch broke off

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Hi, I have a 1998 jeep cherokee and apparently I need a new steering column. One day I went to turn my jeep off and the key just slipped in and out and did absolutely nothing. Long story short, a mechanic told me that I needed a new steering column because a wee tiny piece in the ignition switch broke off and we can't just replace the ignition switch. So, my question is...I can't afford a steering column from a dealership, would it be okay to buy one on Ebay? Another thing, I have no idea if my jeep fits into the category of Floor shift, AT, w/tilt wheel. I bought the jeep used and I don't have a book that tells me anything about what kind of parts are in it. I have no idea what to do. Please help!


Hello Elinore and welcome to just answer Jeep. The ignition switch and key cylinder can be replaced on your Cherokee. I do not know why your mechanic said that. I recommend you call a locksmith and discuss this with him/her. Here is the procedure from the factory service manual for you so you can see that it is repairable You can print this out and give it to your mechanic or locksmith. You should not have to incur the expense of a complete steering column. Hope this helps, and let me know if you need more assistance with this,





The ignition key must be in the key cylinder for cylinder removal. The key cylinder must be removed first before removing ignition switch.


  1. Disconnect negative battery cable at battery.
  2. If equipped with an automatic transmission, place shifter in PARK position.
  3. Rotate key to ON position.
  4. A release tang is located on bottom of key cylinder Key Cylinder Release Tang
  5. Position a small screwdriver or pin punch into tang access hole on bottom of steering column lower cover Key Cylinder and Cover Removal
  6. Push the pin punch up while pulling key cylinder from steering column.


  1. Remove key cylinder. Refer to previous steps.
  2. Remove lower steering column cover screws and remove cover Key Cylinder and Cover Removal
  3. Remove ignition switch mounting screw Ignition Switch Removal/Installation Use tamper proof torx bit (Snap-On® SDMTR10 or equivalent) to remove the screw.
  4. Using a small screwdriver, push on locking tab Ignition Switch Lock Tab and remove switch from steering column.
  5. Disconnect two electrical connectors at rear of ignition switch Ignition Switch Removal/Installation


  1. Before installing ignition switch, rotate the slot in the switch to the ON position Switch In ON Position
  2. Connect two electrical connectors to rear of ignition switch. Make sure that locking tabs are fully seated into wiring connectors.
  3. Position switch to column and install tamper proof screw. Tighten screw to 3 N·m (26 in. lbs.)
  4. Install steering column lower cover.


  1. If equipped with an automatic transmission, place shifter in PARK position.
  2. Position key cylinder into steering column as it would normally be in the ON position.
  3. Press key cylinder into column until it snaps into position.
  4. Check mechanical operation of switch. Automatic Transmission: Be sure transmission lever is locked in PARK position after key removal. If key is difficult to rotate or is difficult to remove, the shift lever-to-steering column cable may be out of adjustment or defective. Refer to Transmission for procedures. Manual Transmission: Be sure key cannot be removed until release lever is operated. If key can be removed, release lever mechanism may be defective. Release lever mechanism is not serviced separately. If repair is necessary, the steering column must be replaced. Refer to Steering for procedures.
  5. Connect negative cable to battery.
  6. Check electrical operation of switch.


Chris and other Jeep Specialists are ready to help you

Elinore, If your mechanic still thinks you will need to replace the entire steering column, then send me your Jeep's VIN number and I will look it up and see which column you will need.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Okay, so what's the name of the piece that actually goes into the ignition switch? Cars confuse the crap out of me. The metal piece that connects into the ignition switch is what broke. All of the key cylinders that I've looked up don't look like the piece I'm needing. I'm so lost.



the piece you need is known as the "ignition switch lock cylinder" Call your Jeep,Dodge, or Chrysler dealer. They can tell you the part number and quote you a price. Then if you want to purchase it elsewhere, you can do that using the part number they gave you.

Thank you for the accept!