What would you do from here?

Discussion in 'KJ General Discussion' started by wbw, Oct 28, 2017.

  1. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    I've had my '02 Liberty with 96,000 miles for two weeks now and find that we're driving it more than I thought we would, as the wife is liking it too. It was bought as 'toy' and not a daily driver. Since it was just a toy, I cheaped out, instead of maybe spending a little more for a newer year with less miles.

    It has new tires, new rear window struts and four recalls done at the Jeep dealer. I've put in a new air filter and changed the oil and filter. My next step is to take it to my mechanic to get the other fluids changed and possibly spark plugs, if needed.

    So my question is, should a continue to invest in this vehicle or should I accumulate another $2500 - $3000 and flip this one and get maybe an '05 to '07 with less than 70,000 miles on it? I've priced out a new radio with Bluetooth and speakers that would run me about $450 installed. Not sure what new suspension would cost (not lifted). So if it was yours, would you put more money into the '02 or raise more funds and trade up to a newer model with considerably less miles on it?

    Almost forgot to ask about head gaskets. Is it a given that it will 'go' in the not too distant future, or do some of them hang in there for 200,000 miles or more? Just wondering if this is in my future if I keep the car for two or three years.

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. LostChord

    LostChord Full Access Member

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    It would be interesting to see if you can find one with 70k miles or less. If yours is in good shape, I see no reason not to keep it. At 96k miles, I'd say your doing ok with a 15 year old vehicle.


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  3. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    Even though I've made my purchase, I still can't help looking at Car Gurus, and I see '05-'07s with less than 70,000 in my area. Not many, but they are out there.
     
  4. djtimyd

    djtimyd Full Access Member

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    Seriously good find on a 2002 with less than 100k miles. Bought a 2005 this summer with 130k.

    Most people will tell you they prefer the older years because of the lack of electronics added in later years - with the '05 being at the end of the "good years".

    The big question you need to ask yourself is what are you willing to do yourself? If you have a radio installed, its gonna cost way more than doing it yourself. Same with the mild mechanical stuff: changing spark plugs is actually pretty easy for example. The more complicated stuff, like the suspension, requires a little more knowledge - but really it involves more time and a place to do it.

    If you are only going to daily drive it and not put some time of your own to do any of the work yourself - that's fine, but maybe a lower mileage vehicle would be better. Even with basic knowledge and basic tools, jeeps get more and more maintenance happy the older they get, which can be said of just about every vehicle. The good news is that your Liberty is easier to do the work yourself on then say a 2002 Toyota Corolla. If it interests you, its also fun and rewarding to do the work yourself. I have an XJ and a KJ and all the maintenance and modifications that I have done have been done by me, not a shop. I enjoy working on the jeeps, but not everyone does.

    If it was me - I would definitely keep working on that Jeep (assuming its mechanically sound). But I am also willing to invest the time and energy into upgrading and maintaining my aging jeep. That right there is what you should decide for yourself.

    If you do decide to keep it - for the most part this forum is my best resource for help, advice and suggestions for what to do, what not to do, and how to do what I want and need to do.

    as always... YMMV
     
  5. tommudd

    tommudd Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I would stick with what you have, would never go for an 06-07
    96,000 is low mileage and if it runs good why sell it?
    Doesn't make good sense at all.
    Many have 200,000 and more on their KJs
    My 04 I bought new had 221,000 when I decided to freshen things up and rebuild but was still running
    For what you are going to put into another later unknown how maintenance was kept up etc you could do a lot with the one you have.
    If you think you just have to have a newer one, keep us in mind, many of us , well me LOL are collecting 02-05 KJs ( as long as it isn't silver or blue )
     
  6. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    I'll do the easy stuff and non-electrical stuff myself. But most of the maintenance is beyond what I feel confidant doing. I've been changing my own oil for 40 years, but not much else. I lack confidence in doing most of the other stuff. I want it done 'right' and I'm not sure that I'm the guy to do that.
     
  7. HoosierJeeper

    HoosierJeeper Gold Supporter/Admin Staff Member Administrator

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    96000 is young. The first non oil change mine needed (besides the lift at 78k miles) was a water pump and radiator at 108k.

    The only head gasket failures I've seen have been abused and over heated. Not a common issue at all.
     
  8. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    That's good to hear. I'm pretty sure the first Liberty I looked at had a bad head gasket. The oil filler cap was recessed (not solid like what I have currently) and it looked like butterscotch pudding inside the cap. Then the dipstick had fluid way up above the full mark. I didn't put two and two together until after I left there that it needed a head gasket. I guess it didn't hit me right away because I wasn't thinking 'head gasket'. It drove well but the air cond. didn't work. Glad I passed on that one. But it left me thinking possible expensive repair in my future. I think my Liberty was maintained fairly well. I'll know more after my mechanic does the fluid changes.
     
  9. tommudd

    tommudd Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some people get the " pudding" under the fill tube cap due to a lot of short trips etc . Condensation forms from hotter oil, cool tube etc.
    I have 3 KJs that have never had that issue , the one ( 02 renegade I bought with blown motor ) had it though. Lady ran it hot for a good ways and well rest is history.
    So that "pudding" is not always a sign of a bad engine
     
  10. HoosierJeeper

    HoosierJeeper Gold Supporter/Admin Staff Member Administrator

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    The stuff on the fill cap isn't worrisome but the oil being way high is weird.
    My KJ has had it before, gets worse in the winter. Doesn't really hurt anything though. Best to get it all the way up to temp, but that's kinda hard to do in the winter when it's 0 degrees and the ski hill is 5 minutes away. :gr_grin:
     
  11. ltd02

    ltd02 Comfortably numb KJ Supporting Member

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    Absolutely, my 02 had it when the weather got cold. Got the 05 last December and have never had any "pudding". I don't think these things are more prone to HG issues than any other vehicle. Don't think any of these "newer" vehicles take running hot very well.

    I did cook my HGs in the 02 but that was a failed fan relay while in traffic. Not much I could do about that at the time. My 02 went almost 180k before I went to the 05 so 96k is barely broken in. Found my 05 with only 42k on it. FYI, very low miles ain't always so great. If I were to get another I'd stick with the 03-05. I loved my 02 but the only thing I liked better on the 02 than my 05 was the color. Just my 0.02.
     
  12. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    I found that out the hard way many years ago.

    I knew the pudding could be condensation, but I figured that combined with the very high wet mark on the dip stick that the head gasket was shot.
     
  13. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    Well thanks everybody. The consensus seems to be to keep it and work with it.
     
  14. tjkj2002

    tjkj2002 Full Access Member

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    The '02's also got the better auto trans,the 45RFE and not the later 42RLE.

    Less prone to the dreaded window regulator failures of the newer years.
     
  15. JasonJ

    JasonJ Full Access Member

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    I think you've heard the concensus answer... Keep it.

    Better auto transmission, no window regulator issues (less likely), better seats than an 05+, already low mileage, you already know this vehicle pretty good and another newer one may be an unknown risk.

    Also, changing the remaining fluids on a KJ is about as simple as an oil change- so look up the how-to and go for it. Front and rear diffs are super simple, transfer case = ridiculously easy as well. The only ones that can be more involved are brake fluids and transmission with filter change. And only because the trans can be a literal mess when draining.

    Head gaskets, almost always a cooling problem that is ignored and the engine overheats- then is driven while overheating. The thing is, as soon as there is a problem, get it fixed! You avoid so many issues by not neglecting and ignoring your vehicle.
     
  16. Myke

    Myke Full Access Member

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    I had an 02, an 07, then a 2010, and last Nov when I bought another one for offroading I went with an 03. Keep your 02 and build it/beat it up.
     
  17. wbw

    wbw Full Access Member

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    Thanks again for all the advice. I really do like the little Jeep. I'll try to get a picture up in a day or two.
     
  18. BillyG

    BillyG Full Access Member

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    Keep it and do as much of the work yourself as you can. I enjoy basic maintenance and this forum as well as Youtube are a big help. My last car was a Subaru WRX so changing the spark plugs on the Jeep is a dream! I only moved the coolant tank to make it easier instead of having to move the battery and squeeze my hands between the engine and frame.

    Pretty soon I am going to be changing the front and rear diff fluid as well as the transfer case. I am taking it to a local dealer for the transmission and radiator flush- I hate dealing with those after doing them on previous vehicles.

    I also just got the P0420 light. I put an anti-fouler on one o2 sensor, but the other is right next to the transmission so there is not enough room. I will probably have to push the exhaust a little to the side and fit it in there. No emission checks in this part of VA so I am okay with it.

    I tried some Cataclean and ran premium for a tank according to the directions, but the next fill with regular and the light came back on.
     
  19. Conundrum2006

    Conundrum2006 Full Access Member

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    Like everyone has said the head gaskets shouldn’t be an issue unless it overheats, as it is for all modern cars with aluminum cylinder heads. Along with the other maintenance I’d try to make sure the cooling system is good. I don’t know if there’s common issues that can be addressed early on.

    I’ve found the first model years to me more interesting because they are built slightly different. Sometime with more features or better parts that are removed to cut cost later in production. I’ve also know people who try to avoid first production years because of bugs that are worked out later, I haven’t found that to be true but it’s a school of thought.

    If the engines good and the body is good I’d think you found a keeper. Biggest heartbreak on these newer jeeps (I’m a old XJ guy) is the when the engine fails, the prices never really dropped like they did for the old 4.0 Cherokee and labor cost is high. Too many find out too late they bought somebody’s toxic asset.


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  20. Conundrum2006

    Conundrum2006 Full Access Member

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    Woah working on a WRX, what a nightmare. Seriously cool car but no space to work and some maintenance like clutch you might as well drop the engine and trans. Designed to be put together on the assembly line not worked on by Shadetree mechanics or anybody really.

    That p0420 code, I don’t think the anti fouler is going to do much for you, but then I’m not familiar with anti foulers for 02 sensors.
    New 02 sensors ( or just on the downstream) might help, basically the computer is reading the levels before and after the cats if the levels fall past whatever efficiency it’s set for the computer thinks the catalytic converter‘s are bad whichever side it’s failing. Could also be exhaust leaking someplace.
    I played with this code for a bit on our commander, I could reset the CEL and be good for awhile then it would come back, ended up replacing the catalytic converter assembly when a upstream o2 sensor went bad and couldn’t be removed. Guess it froze in there because of the winter road salting up north. Couldn’t breaking the sensors lose by heating it with a torch or with the impact gun. Pulling the cat assembly really sucked on the Commander, don’t know how bad it is on the liberty.



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