Help! My 03 Jeep Liberty’s battery died and Sepentine belt came off.

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GingerGal

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I have an ‘03 Jeep Liberty Limited, 4WD.

She has had some issues for a while now but I haven’t had the funds to fix her yet.
Lately the check engine light and Airbag warning lights have come on.

She has been overheating for a little while now and so I’ve just been adding coolant whenever she needed it. The AC/heat has not worked since last summer. It goes cold or hot when I put it on AC or heat but no air was blowing. I figured I needed a new fan motor or something but again, couldn’t afford to fix it yet.

Important to note as well, her radiator was replaced a couple of years ago so I know the overheating issue wasn’t from the radiator. Also, she has a VERY slow oil leak, which causes me to require topping off the oil every few weeks/around once a month or so depending on much I drive.

Fast forward to this winter/now almost spring and her power steering has intermittently been coming in and out as well as the battery warning light coming on. Previously the power steering would work again once I gave it a bit of gas/stepped on the accelerator.

A couple of days ago I went to put in some gas and on my way to the gas station, the power steering failed almost completely, I had a minute or two here and there where it would work, but it was pretty much gone even when I was stepping on the gas.

After fuelling up, when I tried to start her again the battery was completely dead and she wouldn’t turn over. Just clicked when I tried making the same sound as any vehicle battery when dead/almost dead.

My partner and I pushed her to a parking spot nearby and when I opened up the hood, I saw the serpentine belt was loose and there was some decent corrosion on the battery terminals and on some of the fuses as well as the electrical line connected to the under the hood fuse box.

I’m going to get a boost tomorrow so I can (hopefully) bring her home to work on her, but from what I’ve read in these forums it seems to all lead back to the AC compressor not functioning/seizing up which led to the serpentine belt eventually falling off.

1) Does anyone on here have any advice on a quick(ish) fix? So I can get her home to my house and avoid her being towed away from the gas station parking lot to an impound lot.
(I’ve already spoken with the staff at the gas station, they said she’s ok there for a couple of days but I do need to get her out of there ASAP and can’t afford a tow truck)

2) What is the best way for me to tell if it is the AC compressor/clutch/pulley that is the problem?

3) Will she (maybe) be able to make it the 5ish minutes drive from the gas station to my house if I just reattach the (seemingly intact and undamaged) serpentine belt and give her battery a boost?
 
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KJowner

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Before you do anything try turning all the pully wheels by hand, they should all rotate smoothly and quietly, anything that feels lumpy or won't turn is going to need work. Without the belt you will have no alternator or power steering so driving will be hard and the battery will be discharging all the time. I would take the battery off, get it home and fully charged it, that will give you some run time, I couldn't guess how many miles, but moving it with all the lights off, the fan off and the radio off will maximise the distance, assuming the battery isn't wrecked I'd expect you should easily get home. Don't even think about trying it with just a boost if you can't get the alternator running, you will be lucky to make it off the forecourt.
Good luck!
 

john e denson

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I would suspect an idler pulley or water pump going out. If it was the ac compressor locking up you should of heard the belt squealing. I have had my idler/tensioner pulleys go out at different times on my 2005 Libby and never heard a thing. 1 time I saved the belt the other time it ate it up' The pulleys run about 30 bucks apiece. I think it takes a 15 mm wrench or socket to move the pulley to put the belt back on. It could also be the water pump. I had that go out a couple of times too so check that also. You should go ahead and clean the battery terminals before you jump it off. The best thing would be to find a friend with some tools to go back with you. These are not hard jobs to do WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS AND PARTS. It can be done in less than an hour once you figure out what's wrong and you have the right part. I doubt it is the AC compressor. That is bout the only thing I have not replaced on my libby and I have over 250,000 miles on her. Good Luck.
 

GingerGal

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Like he said, all good sound advice. Good luck.

Oh, & serpentine belts don't like stuck idler pulleys (the little ones that appear to be just bolted to the front of the engine) so pay particular attention to them.
Thank you both for the excellent advice! It would seem after taking the radiator fan assembly off and out and having a look at the heavy duty fan connected to the water pump and pulley, the pulley/pump themselves are loose.

Like… move the fan around in up/down/left/right positions easily and quite a bit. It’s like the HD fan and pulley are barely attached, able to move around like a shower head for lack of a better description. Not sure if that’s ever happened to anyone else on here but wow was I ever surprised to find that particular problem. At first I thought it was a loose HD fan connection but that doesn’t explain the entire pulley part of the coolant pump being able to move like that. So, I’ve determined it is the pump and pulley that are the problem.

I’m thinking I probably need to replace the water pump along with the pulley on which the HD fan is attached. Because it had such a loose connection, it actually caused the serpentine belt to come off. Because the pulley was able to wobble around so much, it would work for a long time but then over any bump, goodbye serpentine belt and most engine function!

The Serpentine belt, in spite of the horror’s it’s gone through seems to miraculously be fine (I checked it pretty thoroughly) so I’m going to keep it.

So: what I’ve done so far-

1) Detached the radiator fan assembly (wow was that ever difficult with the HD fan in the way!)

2) ordered a new Water Pump and gasket with Pulley, a huge 200 pack of various fuses for any and all that may need replacing as well as 2 relays just in case they’re done for. I don’t have any voltage/electrical equipment to test them, but none have been replaced in the 5 years I’ve owned my KJ nor does it look like they were replaced before that. I’ve had various electrical issues here and there (as previously mentioned) so I’m just going to replace them all because I have them and it won’t hurt.

3) decided to tow it to my house so it doesn’t get towed to an impound lot from the gas station in which it’s been sitting for 4 days. (Shoutout to the Co-op gas station employees that have let me stay there so long and troubleshoot the problems!)

I plan to, in order:
Detach the tensioner/idler pulley, the water pump/pulley, then replace the water pump and reattach the existing tensioner pulley, HD fan and fan clutch since they seem to be just fine.

Reattach the serpentine belt and replace the radiator fan assembly. Then, I will check the bleed screw for the radiator/coolant system to ensure it is on correctly, fill the coolant overflow about 1.5-2” above the cold fill line to ensure it is able to cycle through the system and self purge any air bubbles. Then, start her up and run for about 5-10 min, ensuring the engine doesn’t get too hot for me to take off the cap and refill as needed/wait for her temp to drop before adding more coolant so she is consistently at her cold fill line. Then, take her for a 20 or so minute drive just to ensure everything is running smoothly.

When I simply reattached the serpentine belt (after charging the battery while disconnected) and reattached the battery and started her up, all was going well for about 2-3 minutes until the belt came loose again because of the rogue HD fan. So her battery is OK and I left the terminals unattached when I left her.

If anyone has any other advice or recommendations that would be VERY much appreciated, as I didn’t know how to do anything other than fill the coolant or oil before embarking on this journey, but I have spent about 25 hours in the last 3 days reading repair/service manuals as well as forums here on jeepkj and a few other sites, and countless hours of YouTube videos showing/explaining everything from why/how/when this kind of thing happens and how to fix/replace/check if it needs replacing for my 03’ in every aspect of this area of the engine/radiator/coolant systems. And looking at many MANY diagrams and schematics of this part of my dear KJ to understand her better so I will do everything properly and ensure she’s safe and running smoothly again.

P.S…I can’t remember if I mentioned in my OP but WOW! She is a magical vehicle. Running in hopes and dreams for the past few months with this problem. The HD fan has small chunks missing from each blade from where it connected with the running serpentine belt on many many occasions. It’s still functions just fine but I am in awe of my amazing Jeep and her will to live. It blows my mind thinking of how long she has somehow been running for me all this time. Plus, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t take the time to learn how to fix her earlier when she first started to overheat. Instead, I just added coolant every few weeks. Like I said, she’s an amazing vehicle. I’m sure everyone here has a similar bond with their Jeeps but I’m pretty convinced she has a mind/spirit of her own at this point with how damn near impossible it was for her to keep running while she had this major problem.
 

john e denson

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I just read your reply after I put my 2 cents worth in. That bleed screw can be hard to get off for the first time. they used some super duty lock tight. I had better luck taking mine off after the engine was warmed up. I almost stripped mine out when the engine was cold and I tried to take it out. P.S. I had the 2 stage electric fan instead of a mechanical one which makes it a lot easier to change out the water pump. Good Luck
 

seafish

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While its certainly possible that ONLY the water pump bearing has gone bad causing the belt to jump, depending on how many miles are on the tensioner and other pullies, you REALLY need to check them all carefully for any bearing play and looseness, as well roughness or strange noise. A bearing should spin smoothly and quietly but also NOT continue spinning excessively... which is a sign of lack of grease and thus failure sooner then later.
Also, pulley bearings have a lifespan measured in approximate hours run, and while different size and use bearings have a different lifespan, when specified to work around each other, they tend to eventually fail approximately around the same number of hours run. That also pertains to the tensioner bearing AND spring.


Of course, Im not saying that you HAVE to replace all of them at once, but that you might want to consider doing that just so your ride doesnt leave you stranded somewhere more inconvenient then a gas station close to home. Furthermore, the parts costs, except perhaps the tensioner, are NOT that expensive and are actually easier to replace at the same time as you dont have to remove the fan shroud and belt/tensioner every time a single pulley fails. There is also the chance that the belt will cause more damage to other components next time it comes off ...like if it happens at freeway speeds.

The FINAL advantage of replacing the idler pulleys, tensioner and belt all at the same time is the peace of mind that cones from knowing your ride is good to go again for another 80k miles.

Just my ,02
 
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Billwill

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I have an ‘03 Jeep Liberty Limited, 4WD.

She has had some issues for a while now but I haven’t had the funds to fix her yet.
Lately the check engine light and Airbag warning lights have come on.

She has been overheating for a little while now and so I’ve just been adding coolant whenever she needed it. The AC/heat has not worked since last summer. It goes cold or hot when I put it on AC or heat but no air was blowing. I figured I needed a new fan motor or something but again, couldn’t afford to fix it yet.

Important to note as well, her radiator was replaced a couple of years ago so I know the overheating issue wasn’t from the radiator. Also, she has a VERY slow oil leak, which causes me to require topping off the oil every few weeks/around once a month or so depending on much I drive.

Fast forward to this winter/now almost spring and her power steering has intermittently been coming in and out as well as the battery warning light coming on. Previously the power steering would work again once I gave it a bit of gas/stepped on the accelerator.

A couple of days ago I went to put in some gas and on my way to the gas station, the power steering failed almost completely, I had a minute or two here and there where it would work, but it was pretty much gone even when I was stepping on the gas.

After fuelling up, when I tried to start her again the battery was completely dead and she wouldn’t turn over. Just clicked when I tried making the same sound as any vehicle battery when dead/almost dead.

My partner and I pushed her to a parking spot nearby and when I opened up the hood, I saw the serpentine belt was loose and there was some decent corrosion on the battery terminals and on some of the fuses as well as the electrical line connected to the under the hood fuse box.

I’m going to get a boost tomorrow so I can (hopefully) bring her home to work on her, but from what I’ve read in these forums it seems to all lead back to the AC compressor not functioning/seizing up which led to the serpentine belt eventually falling off.

1) Does anyone on here have any advice on a quick(ish) fix? So I can get her home to my house and avoid her being towed away from the gas station parking lot to an impound lot.
(I’ve already spoken with the staff at the gas station, they said she’s ok there for a couple of days but I do need to get her out of there ASAP and can’t afford a tow truck)

2) What is the best way for me to tell if it is the AC compressor/clutch/pulley that is the problem?

3) Will she (maybe) be able to make it the 5ish minutes drive from the gas station to my house if I just reattach the (seemingly intact and undamaged) serpentine belt and give her battery a boost?
Is this a Gasser or a CRD?

I can offer some advice if yours is a CRD but I know nothing about the Gassers!
 

KJowner

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Me too Bill! I've never even seen the V6, but I've got 3 different types of diesel Jeep on my drive.
As others have said, check all the other pulleys, any roughness, noise or play will need sorting. If they are the same design as the diesel the metal idlers can be split and the bearing replaced.
 

Billwill

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Me too Bill! I've never even seen the V6, but I've got 3 different types of diesel Jeep on my drive.
As others have said, check all the other pulleys, any roughness, noise or play will need sorting. If they are the same design as the diesel the metal idlers can be split and the bearing replaced.
Yeah I had to split all the metal idlers on my CRD and replace the original "Rivets" with High Tension nuts and bolts and "Loctight" on the threads to keep them in place....some of the Idlers are fitted with Left Hand Threads so owners must be wary!


I had to replace the Belt Tensioner as well as it was sitting at an angle....fortunately the Agents had this in stock....they do not support the KJs at all anymore....will not even do an oil change for Customers!:rolleyes:
 

KJowner

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Yeah I had to split all the metal idlers on my CRD and replace the original "Rivets" with High Tension nuts and bolts and "Loctight" on the threads to keep them in place....some of the Idlers are fitted with Left Hand Threads so owners must be wary!


I had to replace the Belt Tensioner as well as it was sitting at an angle....fortunately the Agents had this in stock....they do not support the KJs at all anymore....will not even do an oil change for Customers!:rolleyes:
What a nightmare for parts! They are well supported in Europe at the moment. I wonder if the later Jeep CRD parts are available in Africa? The engine is just an updated version of ours.
 

Deb'nKJ

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I wouldn't expect any main dealer to have any parts for anything over 5 years old, or any interest in or knowledge of, them - unless they have a rip-off "classic" parts program.

There are, however, a couple of reliable independent parts places in the UK - & several places, particularly, in Germany, Poland, Spain & Lithuania which are regulars on eBay. a.f.a.i.k. they all ship worldwide, often v. reasonably. Oz is another good source - but shipping's silly.
 
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