Involuntary Liberty Restoration

by Gregory Dearth
(Fredericksburg, VA, USA)


My 2003 Jeep Liberty.


When I bought it, the Liberty looked really good. Wasn't leaking, had a lot of pep, clean inside and out, one previous owner and a bit under 100k miles. Even the tires were new. Paint was excellent and all the electronics were solid.

Then it fell apart inside 20k more miles. I have the money but not the credit so I just repaired it as things came up. Thus I now have a restored 2003 Jeep Liberty. Here is a list of things I had to repair that crippled the vehicle when they went bad:
4x4 shifter cable. $800
Transmission $3000

Of course, I also had several nearly-critical problems and tons of lesser issues...
Radiator
Water pump
Thermostat (2 in 2 years)
All calipers, rotors, pads
Brake cable
tires
serpentine belt
stereo speakers
various hoses
O2 sensors
battery
spark plugs
coils (2 defective)
various other sensors
oil pan gasket ($600)

So as you might imagine, I have spent more than it is worth.

Now the rear differential is probably going to go. Then probably a cat or two...And then the suspension is also pretty squeaky...

Jeeps are crap. I have heard horror stories regarding brand new 2016 models. Doesn't shock me that a vehicle that couldn't survive an old lady is made by a crap company that fails to improve or learn.

At least they make good on their recalls. I got a free trailer hitch due to the exploding gas tank flaw. Didn't hear about this? Evidently the rear end of a Liberty sits so high that getting rear ended in a car accident typically caused a car to slide under the rear end, cracking the gas tank (plastic, of course) and then dripping gas on the hot crushed engine of the car that rear ended you ending in a beautiful fireball explosion. The fix? Add a trailer hitch to protect the gas tank and reduce rear clearance. LOL

Got a new recall notice today. Something about airbags. Doesn't surprise me that these aging Liberty's keep proving to be problematic decades after their introduction.

On the other hand, having a restored one is nice. I like how it drives, how it handles the snow like it doesn't exist, and how easy it is to work on most parts. I might own a Jeep in the future if my credit ever improves, but I will only drive it for a few years during its warranty period before trading it off. I will NEVER buy one used, even if it was lightly used to go to and from church once a week by a little old lady. Evidently that is enough to break a Jeep down.

My photos are from the 2016 blizzard in Virginia. The Jeep performed admirably that season. I have a love-hate relationship with my Jeep now. She is lovely when she works but she always, and with regularity, surprises me with yet another failing part every other month or so. I am only starting to relax now as there isn't much left to replace or go bad at this point!

Comments for Involuntary Liberty Restoration

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Jeeps problematic ?
by: Anonymous

I too have had problems with my '94 Jeep Wrangler. I bought it used. The previous owner had been using it as a fun off road vehicle and I needed a daily driver. It had less than 100K on it. It now has over 190K.

In the time I have had it I have put in a radiator and an alternator..oh, and a tune up. I change the oil regularly and it uses a quart in a little over 2K miles.

It runs great and if it ever wears out I'll buy another one just like it.

Liberty Blues
by: Michael Shatto

Involuntary Liberty Restoration

Gregory Dearth's excellent description of his woes is a worthy read because he accurately describes his love/hate affair with his Jeep. Nothing is as infuriating to someone who loves machinery as a poorly engineered and built, unreliable machine.


It would be interesting to dig up an old issue of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide and see how many of the problems Gregory Dearth had were already listed. I found the guide to be dead-on accurate with used vehicles I bought.


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