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Any of you also have early Liberties?

Old 03-11-2015, 03:36 PM
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Default Any of you also have early Liberties?

I've had 4 Jeeps, including my XJ, which has been my DD for teh last 4 years. I think my wife has finally caught teh Jeep bug, and we are considering getting rid of her pristine '01 Civic coupe for a '02-'06 Liberty. She likes the looks of them better than an XJ, and appreciates the more modern interior.

Wondered if any of you also owned a Liberty, and could tell me some pros/cons or things to watch out for when buying one.

Do they also have CPS issues?
Any notorious hidden rust locations (even though we are in Texas, that doesn't mean the Liberty has always been here)?
Lift considerations? We'll go mild, with probably nothing bigger than a 30" tire.
Known electrical gremlins?

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 03-11-2015, 05:10 PM
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I don't have one personally, though my mom had an 04 Liberty she traded in a few years ago, no major issues except for electrical gremlins since nearly new (3 window motors, 2 lock solenoids, front window switch, right rear passenger door harness, radio harness, radio, gauge cluster, and ABS harness) most replaced under warranty, but it only had about 65k mi on it when she traded it and had always been well maintained.




For KJs in general:
Both the engine (3.7L V6) and trans (45RFE 02-early 03, 42RLE late 03+) had lots of issues (especially beyond about 150k mi).
The 3.7L V6 like its bigger brother the 4.7L V8 (the 3.7L is a 4.7L with two cylinders knocked off) is very "sensitive" to maintenance so I wouldn't touch one without full maintenance records (even that is no guarantee you won't have issues, but it increases the odds in you favor).
The 45RFE is the stronger of the two transmissions offered, but the early years of those had some issues so I'm not sure if it really is any better than the 42RLE in the KJ application. The 42RLE is a general POS, it was converted from an already weak FWD car transmission (the 42LE) used in the Intrepid/Concorde and the additional stress of being used in a heavier 4WD vehicle didn't exactly help its reliability any. If the trans has more than 100k mi on it plan on a rebuild/replacement in the near future (some last longer, but don't count on it).


They definitely had lots of electrical gremlins, like any early to mid '00s Chrysler vehicle (remember this was from the time of the worst Daimler cost cutting), so the less electrical/electronic "features" the better.


I'm not familiar with too many specific rust issues, though I haven't really looked at used ones either, for lift it is IFS so it is limited to about 2.5" (for "bolt-on" kits), but that should be fine for 30" tires.

Last edited by dmill89; 03-11-2015 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 03-11-2015, 05:38 PM
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Girlfriend has an '04 liberty. Trans died at 57,000 miles (probably a fluke). Also, The oil filter is a HUGE pain to change in the driveway, unless your arm has three elbows haha. Other than that, I have no complaints, except for it not being an xj.
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Old 03-11-2015, 07:41 PM
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So I will give you my back story. I dont own one myself But I would not even think of buying one.

I am a ASE master tech. Up until about five months ago I spent the past six years of my career at a Japanese only shop. This is relative because even at that shop I had to deal with these liberties from family members and what not. I definitely did not get a good impression of them. Move forward to now and I have been at a shop that does all makes and models for the past five months.

In this short amount of time I have begun to really see how poorly these were built. Dont get me wrong all vehicles have problems and repeat, pattern problems or I wouldnt have a job right. But I have yet to see any other vehicle regardless of make or model have so many detrimental engine problems. We had three towed in last week all three had major issues like head gaskets, broken valve springs and a bad tranny. The customer wants to do the head gaskets on the one and we dont even want to do it out of fear of the can of worms that it could turn into.

The front drive lines are very weak. We couldnt even find a used one through any of our sources because they are failing so often. Only choice was to have a local shop rebuild it for 180 I think.

Besides the electrical issues they have some major valve train issues. They broke valve springs and dropped valve guides. There was also something about the valves building up carbon pretty quickly and pushing the rocker off its stud causing miss fires. The valves would stay open due to build up and smack pistons.

This brings me to my next point. I can think of many other vehicle that have these same problems like subaru for instance. I live in the Seattle area so Subarus have single handedly paid many of my bills. The thing that Subbys have going for them is they are easy to work on. If you know your way around a tool box and have youtube readily available you can get pretty far. I have not found a single thing on a liberty that I found myself saying "that wasnt bad," or "that was well thought out." In fact they are sort of a pain in the ***** to work on.

Maybe Im bias but I belive I have a decent data base to pull from. I wouldnt touch one with a 10 ft pole.

Good luck with the search
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Old 03-11-2015, 11:35 PM
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So...
Ringing endorsements then?
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Old 03-13-2015, 03:26 PM
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My dad had two 1st generation Liberties as work vehicles, and my sister just bought an '06 with about 80k. My husband's ex-wife also bought a silver 1st gen. Libby. (Glad she did, it's what got my hubby into Jeeps!). All of them have been decent, no major complaints. Just change the oil!
*My husband and I met working at a Jeep dealership. He's like the Liberties, and he's a tech. He also just put a 2" spacer lift on my sister's Liberty for her.
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Old 03-13-2015, 04:20 PM
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Our fist Jeep was a brand new '03 Liberty Limited. We had it over 8 years and never had an issue with anything other than my wife hitting animals and animals hitting her. Seriously have you ever seen what a turkey does dead center at 60 mph? Pushed the grill, radiator and coolers back into the fan but it kept running for her.

I changed the oil every 3,000, put brakes and tires on it a couple times and pretty much did nothing else to it but drive it for almost 98,000 miles. Only got rid of it because I figured my luck was about to run out and it would start nickle and dimeing us. Or 500 and 1,000ing us would be more like it. Sounds like I got out of it just in time.

As for rust I believe it was mostly around the hinges on the hatch but we were in Pennsylvania then and it was driven 45 miles a day over the mountains in the salt.

That's just our experience. If I hadn't had one and just had to go by what everyone else is saying I might stay clear of it now. Maybe we were lucky.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:53 PM
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Wife has a late 06 Liberty. All of the windows keep falling down due to a very poor design with the window regulator assembly. There was a free dealer fix for a while, but all they did was replace the defective part with the same one. lolfail.

Ebay has a 4 piece metal repair kit for 80 bux.

Other than that it's been ok so far. I wouldn't buy another one tho.
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Old 03-18-2015, 05:27 PM
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My little sister has an 04, and good lord this vehicle is held together with duct tape and zip ties. Biggest complaint would be randomly shutting off while driving, window motors, and rear hatch latch fell off the window. It's a poorly built jeep which is sad to say.
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Old 03-18-2015, 11:27 PM
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Well, I appreciate all of the feedback.

However, it looks like a Liberty is a no-go. My wife and I went to look at a few that a dealer had. While she liked them overall, the deal breaker was the back seat. It doesn't fold very flat. And when you have a 140 pound Mastiff, you need a big flat area to haul that size dog around.

We explored other options, and she had some funny comments.

I tried to talk her into a Grand Cherokee - "Ugly. Looks like a turtle."
I showed her a second-gen "square" Liberty - "Too much plastic. And looks like a soccer mom's car. I'm not a soccer mom. I'm not even a mom. I want something that doesn't look like a ***** drives it."

Basically, she wants a "real" Jeep. " Simple, without a lot of electronic gizmos. Easy to work on." So, after all of that, I think she wants to get an XJ. So I let her drive one that had a 3" lift and 32's. She said it was a bit more than she wanted, and would probably be happier with something with a 2" lift a 30's.

I've always considered myself a lucky man, but gosh do I have a great wife!

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