Hello, thinking of restoring a KJ for the wife...

Moustache Man

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Hello, I'm a long time wrench turner and Jeep owner and have had many (CJs, YJs, TJs, WJ, KJ, and currently a JT). My wife had a 2004 Liberty (bought new) for about about three years but traded it on a minivan when the growing family required it. We are still a Jeep family, and every time my wife considers a new JL, she always says she wishes she still had her Liberty. She really loved that thing, and I love her and all things Jeep so...

... seriously considering buying a decent KJ and fixing it up for her as a spare vehicle. I joined this forum specifically to ask the following:

1. How is parts availability for these things?
-- I'd imagine tie rods, ball joints, and other high-wear parts are readily available, yes?
-- What other high-wear stuff is hard to get or not available?
2. Once you get past the likely engine overhaul or replacement, what are the usual problem areas?
-- Are the auto transmissions decent on these things at 150,000 miles, or just about spent?
-- How do the electrical components and computer-controlled electronics hold up?
-- What are the dreaded nightmares that some people run into and everyone hopes it doesn't happen to them?
3. Are the seats rebuildable with factory foam, or would it rely on creativity with stuff from Hobby Lobby, etc.?
-- What are other challenging aspects of getting an interior back in good, clean condition?

Appreciate anyone's willingness to share some acquired knowledge and perspective of what is bound to be a terrible idea.

Thanks,
MM
 

LibertyTC

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Welcome to the forums.
Overall the KJ's are well built and sturdy vehicles. The main thing to look out for is rust.
Best to find one away from the rust belt, and inspect it up on a lift. Rust is not what you want to find on rockers lower control arm, frame areas.
If you search hard, may still be able to find a lower mile one, possibly where the seats are in great shape?

High wear parts like ball joint, rods, brakes etc are available in the aftermarket.
Automatic trans are fairly robust, but having a KJ maintenance history from owner, can be very beneficial. I did my first 42RLE ATF+4 fluid at 40k miles.
See if the trans fluid is clean on dipstick if it does not have a dipstick ( like on later model years) I'd pass.
Take it for a longer test drive.
Engine light should not be present if it is running right & tuned up well. 02-05's can read engine codes via the key trick no OBD2 reader required.

I have an 04 without all the electrical doo-dads, no ABS no TPM/ or any electronic issues.
Check to make sure A/C works & all the vent modes function correctly and air comes out properly. Blower fan should would on low to high settings.
Best years IMHO were 02-05. They seem to have window regualtors that work, more reliable it seems.
Dreaded nightmares, well the heater core and trying to replace it.
Using only Mopar Hoat or Zerex G-05 and if it got mixed with the wrong coolant, is bad news. Inspect the reservoir for clean Hoat coolant in tank at firewall.

Seats= good support for after market covers. OEM seats had so many different models /options, depending on year.
As far as foam, trim shop, or look at wreckers to see there may be some nice leather ones in decent shape ?

Look for any water leaks on headliner, especially if it has sunroof.
Floor carpet areas generally can be steam cleaned/extractor.
Hope you can find a solid replacement for your wife's KJ, best-o luck.
 
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Johnny O

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Hello, I'm a long time wrench turner and Jeep owner and have had many (CJs, YJs, TJs, WJ, KJ, and currently a JT). My wife had a 2004 Liberty (bought new) for about about three years but traded it on a minivan when the growing family required it. We are still a Jeep family, and every time my wife considers a new JL, she always says she wishes she still had her Liberty. She really loved that thing, and I love her and all things Jeep so...

... seriously considering buying a decent KJ and fixing it up for her as a spare vehicle. I joined this forum specifically to ask the following:

1. How is parts availability for these things?
-- I'd imagine tie rods, ball joints, and other high-wear parts are readily available, yes?
-- What other high-wear stuff is hard to get or not available?
2. Once you get past the likely engine overhaul or replacement, what are the usual problem areas?
-- Are the auto transmissions decent on these things at 150,000 miles, or just about spent?
-- How do the electrical components and computer-controlled electronics hold up?
-- What are the dreaded nightmares that some people run into and everyone hopes it doesn't happen to them?
3. Are the seats rebuildable with factory foam, or would it rely on creativity with stuff from Hobby Lobby, etc.?
-- What are other challenging aspects of getting an interior back in good, clean condition?

Appreciate anyone's willingness to share some acquired knowledge and perspective of what is bound to be a terrible idea.

Thanks,
MM
Parts are readily available online and “ship to” you local parts stores. You can spend the big bucks on the mopar or get third party stuff. Other than a few minor design quirks, they are inexpensive to fix and operate.
 

vortibear

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I think he's saying part availability could be better as he couldn't source a fuel pump
 

tommudd

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No one has mentioned the weak junk suspension that sags bad by 65-70,000 miles
Look into upgrading to OME springs and either Bilstein or OME shocks
You can have near stock height or up to 3-3.5 inches of lift
Personally springs were too weak for me when brand new and needed upgrading as I did when I bought my 04 brand new
 

Moustache Man

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You folks are great, and I really appreciate the responses.

I remember when XJs were dirt cheap and you couldn't give a YJ away. I told my wife I am surprised at the apparently low market value of the Liberty, but now is probably the time to grab a good one before someone starts calling them a "classic" and the price skyrockets - especially the models with round headlights.

I'm in Alabama, so if I can find a local vehicle, rust shouldn't be an issue. But so far everything around me is borderline abused. I would prefer 4wd, but my wife doesn't particularly care. I would gladly take a low-mileage 2wd.

I'll stay on the lookout and try not to jump on too much of a lost cause. If I find one, I'll definitely chime in here with you fine folks.

Thanks for the welcome.

MM
 

tommudd

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You folks are great, and I really appreciate the responses.

I remember when XJs were dirt cheap and you couldn't give a YJ away. I told my wife I am surprised at the apparently low market value of the Liberty, but now is probably the time to grab a good one before someone starts calling them a "classic" and the price skyrockets - especially the models with round headlights.

I'm in Alabama, so if I can find a local vehicle, rust shouldn't be an issue. But so far everything around me is borderline abused. I would prefer 4wd, but my wife doesn't particularly care. I would gladly take a low-mileage 2wd.

I'll stay on the lookout and try not to jump on too much of a lost cause. If I find one, I'll definitely chime in here with you fine folks.

Thanks for the welcome.

MM
Measure suspension when looking at one
go to left side front on level ground
middle of the hub / center cap, to bottom of the flare was 19 inches after April 12, 2002
( before that build date was 19.75 )
any lower and suspension is toast ( springs and shocks worn out )
also check rear CV boot on the front driveshaft, they usually go by 70-80,000 miles as well ( easy to replace and cheap from www.driveshaftparts.com )
On the 05 I bought for my step father a few years back, I was able to get over a 1000 bucks off the price just on those two things alone
 

WheelNut

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You gotta get a 4x4 man! Might as well get a car if you're only going to go 2wd Pretty rare to see a 2wd Liberty up here, but maybe there are lots of them down south?

I'd say one thing to look out for is any issues with the HVAC system. Replacing the heater core is a big job, so you don't want to have to deal with that. Most Liberty's will have lots of worn out suspension parts, so if you can find one that has had some of that overhauled then that is a bonus and if not then expect to do a suspension overhaul.

Getting one with the tow package is nice as it has a transmission cooler and a much larger cooling fan which is a bonus. Like Tom said make sure the coolant looks nice and smooth with no clumps. Lots of mechanics don't know what kind of coolant to put in these things and end up wrecking the cooling system and engine by using the wrong coolant and gumming up the system.

The front prop shaft will most likely have a tear in the rear CV boot, so expect to replace the prop shaft or rebuild that CV joint. This part is easy to access, so its not a big deal.

Outside of that just do your normal used vehicle checks.

Oh, also, there are two generations of KJ Liberty's: 1st gen from 02-04 and the 2nd gen from 05-07. The seats are different, so test drive both and see which seats you prefer. I'd also say the 1st gen front bumper looks better, so that's a point for the 1st gen.
 

Moustache Man

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I've been looking at KJs for sale online, and had an epiphany. I had no idea the grill and bumpers changed in 2005. Somehow never noticed, but now I can't unsee it. As a brand new forum member I mean absolutely no disrespect or offense, but to me and the wife 2002-2004 is hands down the coolest looking Liberty. That makes the window incredibly narrow to find what we are looking for. This is going to be a challenge.

Ideal vehicle:
2002 - 2004, Atlantic Blue, 4WD, Sport with gray interior, straight body, low miles, clean interior.

How long is this going to take to find? ... sheesh!
 

JeepJeepster

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I've been looking at KJs for sale online, and had an epiphany. I had no idea the grill and bumpers changed in 2005. Somehow never noticed, but now I can't unsee it. As a brand new forum member I mean absolutely no disrespect or offense, but to me and the wife 2002-2004 is hands down the coolest looking Liberty. That makes the window incredibly narrow to find what we are looking for. This is going to be a challenge.

Ideal vehicle:
2002 - 2004, Atlantic Blue, 4WD, Sport with gray interior, straight body, low miles, clean interior.

How long is this going to take to find? ... sheesh!

Thats what I have aside from it being a limited. Ive always thought the 2004 was the perfect year, but I sure would like to have the 45rfe trans. Its an all around better trans for the 3.7. The gear ratios just dont match up to the 3.7's torque band at all, its always lugging.

And on the fuel pump, Herko has NOS mopar pumps on ebay. Just bought a spare for $85 shipped. The pump has the chrysler emblem on it, but the box does not say mopar on it, thought that was kinda odd. The box has an odd part number on it.
 

adamkrz

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Thats what I have aside from it being a limited. Ive always thought the 2004 was the perfect year, but I sure would like to have the 45rfe trans. Its an all around better trans for the 3.7. The gear ratios just dont match up to the 3.7's torque band at all, its always lugging.

And on the fuel pump, Herko has NOS mopar pumps on ebay. Just bought a spare for $85 shipped. The pump has the chrysler emblem on it, but the box does not say mopar on it, thought that was kinda odd. The box has an odd part number on it.
IT's the top plastic piece that I could not locate and is prone to crack - they changed the style in 05 to just one piece.
 

runfor5

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I 2nd what @adamkrz is saying. I’ve posted on here before about an (still ongoing lol) EVAP leak on my ‘04. It’s a 2 piece assembly (in-tank like every other vehicle I’ve seen + a top part assembly that sits at top of the tank) and the top part isn’t made anywhere - not Mopar nor aftermarket. And an ‘03 doesn’t fit an ‘04; I tired. Something to be aware of because you’re stuck to a used one in a yard if that ever needs replacing. Plastic solder works well too though if needed on that part!

Other than that I would agree with others here that most parts are readily available! Certainly more however seems “out of stock” on RockAuto these days post COVID…
 

NotMyRenegade

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My two cents.....find one that is decent and buy it....if she loved her previous KJ she will love another and put you on her "sweetheart" list. Just like you I enjoy wrenching and tinkering and when my partner bought her KJ Renegade I was hesitant....BUT....I have replaced the water pump and a couple sensors and was pleasantly surprised at ease of the replacements. As with ALL vehicles there will be repairs and maintenance that will occur but I am happy to do them because I like to make my partner happy. So as with any used vehicle inspect well , take it for a test drive , check it over again and make a decision . Good Luck and welcome to the forums...a good choice for helping make a decision and getting some insight as well as the knowledge and experience given by other members for us " Shade Tree Mechanics "....lol...anybody remember that show....???? I know I appreciate being a member because members have helped me with diagnosing issue's...two thumbs up....!!!!
 

Wazmer

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Hello, I'm a long time wrench turner and Jeep owner and have had many (CJs, YJs, TJs, WJ, KJ, and currently a JT). My wife had a 2004 Liberty (bought new) for about about three years but traded it on a minivan when the growing family required it. We are still a Jeep family, and every time my wife considers a new JL, she always says she wishes she still had her Liberty. She really loved that thing, and I love her and all things Jeep so...

... seriously considering buying a decent KJ and fixing it up for her as a spare vehicle. I joined this forum specifically to ask the following:

1. How is parts availability for these things?
-- I'd imagine tie rods, ball joints, and other high-wear parts are readily available, yes?
-- What other high-wear stuff is hard to get or not available?
2. Once you get past the likely engine overhaul or replacement, what are the usual problem areas?
-- Are the auto transmissions decent on these things at 150,000 miles, or just about spent?
-- How do the electrical components and computer-controlled electronics hold up?
-- What are the dreaded nightmares that some people run into and everyone hopes it doesn't happen to them?
3. Are the seats rebuildable with factory foam, or would it rely on creativity with stuff from Hobby Lobby, etc.?
-- What are other challenging aspects of getting an interior back in good, clean condition?

Appreciate anyone's willingness to share some acquired knowledge and perspective of what is bound to be a terrible idea.

Thanks,
MM
I have an 06 CRD that I bought with 140k. Replaced ball joints at 180k, transmission is starting to go out now at almost 210k. Other than that, just normal maintenance and it’s been good. Never had a problem finding any parts.
 

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