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Published on January 24, 2021

How To: Fix Your Jeep Cherokee’s Wobbly Center Console

Here’s how to repair this common Cherokee (XJ) issue

Center Console

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I have a 2000 Jeep Cherokee, commonly known as an XJ. These were one of the first SUVs and were immensely popular. Manufactured from 1983 to 2001, approximately three million were made. Of the many I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see one that doesn’t have a broken and wobbly center console.

My XJ has been aging well. It’s still running strong despite having over 200,000 miles of driving history. The engine is known for being long lasting, but the vehicle definitely benefits from some modernization. As the car ages, it sometimes needs a little help to stay in great shape. On a positive note, most fixes and updates are inexpensive (including refinishing old wheels) and will keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come.

My latest fix involved tackling a wobbly center console. When anyone gets in the car and puts their seatbelt on, they usually lean on the console and feel it move under them. It even jostles a bit when driving down a bumpy road. It’s a minor annoyance, but one that you feel every time you get in the car. Plus, I know that over time, leaning on a center console with a broken support bracket can only spell bad news for the console itself.

Jeep built the entire rear of the center console to rest on a strangely shaped bracket with fairly thin arms. And they made that bracket out of plastic. I’ve never seen one in a junkyard that wasn’t broken, and every XJ I’ve either owned or worked on with a friend has had a broken support bracket. My bracket has been broken for years, but a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and ordered a new one from JCR. At $50, it might be one of the more expensive parts on my vehicle, but given how well the rest of the XJ is doing, I decided it was worth it.

Here’s the old and new bracket side by side:

New and old brackets

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The old one is cracked in places and is completely missing the two supports on the top. Par for the course with these old plastic parts.

The new one is made from 14 gauge steel and is solid. I could bend it with some force, but it sure looks like it’ll take a beating. The console itself will probably fail before this bracket does!

There’s just one problem with this new bracket. It has a support hole (for electrical wiring) in the wrong place:

Missing hole on new bracket

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Up that high, the plastic pin that holds the cables in place can’t fit in the higher hole since it is blocked by an electrical box behind it.

No problem. Just drill a new hole!

New hole location

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It doesn’t have to be exact, just try to match the approximate location and diameter.

With that done, you’re ready to disassemble the console. This can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t done it before.

Remove console shift indicators

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Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Remove the dash bezel around the radio. It just pops out. Start at the bottom corners and gently pull until they pop off, then work your way up.
  2. Remove the shift indicator plastic console (at the bottom of the gear shifter) and the 4WD indicator plastic console (at the bottom of the 4WD shifter). Both of these just pop off as well.
  3. Remove the gear shift handle (the top hand grip comes off the shifter shaft). It also just pops off, but you will be surprised how tough it is to pull off. A bit nerve wracking the first time you do it.
  4. You should be able to pull both shift indicator panels off the shifters and set them to the side of the console. You don’t need to unplug them if you aren’t going to fully remove the console.
  5. Remove one screw holding the center console in place to the right of the gear shifter.
  6. Remove one screw holding the center console in place to the right of the 4WD shifter.
  7. Open your center console. You’ll see four screws in the four corners of the top. I don’t think these have to be removed, but it makes life easier. The console lid will detach from the console when you remove the rear two screws.
  8. You may or may not have two screws in the bottom of the console bin. This is usually where the bracket attaches, so they may be broken, missing, or attached but not working. Remove them if you can.
  9. Chock your wheels to be safe, then shift the shifter back a few (probably into drive) by pushing the white shifter button and shifting like normal (key needs turned to “on”, but the car should not be running).
  10. Shift the 4WD shifter back a few also. Depending on your transfer case, you might try to shift to Part Time 4WD or to Neutral.
  11. Pull up the e-brake about halfway.

Center console removed

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From here, you’re ready to go. You should be able to pull the console up and over the shifter with some wiggling. You will need to move both shifters and the e-brake around a bit to get the console off the e-brake. The air vent tube is also attached in the very front, but should just pull out along with the console.

Now you should have full access to the console bracket.

There are three screws holding it in … if they’re all still there … and one electrical plug.

First, remove the plug. Pull the white tabs back and you should be able to rock the plug out of the socket. The wire has a plastic grip attaching it to the bracket. There are many tools to pull those out that look a bit like a two-pronged fork, but you may be able to just pull it out of the hole or use a screwdriver to help pry it out.

You can see on the new bracket where the screws are, but there is one on the front right, one on the rear right, and one on the left. The two on the right are simple and just require a screwdriver from above. The one on the left is angled and buried under the carpet, making it a bit difficult to reach.

Angled screwdriver to get that tough screw

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At this point, you should have the plastic bracket removed and can reverse the steps to install the metal one!

First, get those three screws back in:

Bracket installed

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Then, reattach the plug and the wire guide:

Electric reinstalled

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Set the console back in place (with more shifting / braking) and make sure the air vent is between the bracket columns. This is where having the console bucket removed helps a lot. The air vent tube should connect back up in the front and sit snugly in place (it’s a tight fit in the bracket):

Where to put the vent tube

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Screw back in the two screws near the shifters, the four screws in the console bucket, and the two screws that will attach to the new bracket from the bottom of the bucket. The holes in the bracket aren’t pre-tapped, but I found that it only needed a little bit of muscle to get the standard interior screws to self-tap.

Snap back on the two shift indicators, the gear-shift handle, and the console bezel, and you’re done!

Center Console finished!

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Phew! A lot of work for no visible difference. However, I can now lean on the center console without it rattling or wobbling. More importantly, I’m protecting the center console for the future of this vehicle.

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