One of the most recognizable and well-known brands in the world is Jeep. The 5-passenger Liberty, known for its distinctive amphibious capabilities, made its debut in 2002 as the following compact SUV in a long line of successful automobiles. But are there any Jeep Liberty years to avoid?
Updates and minor redesigns were available in this model up until 2012. During this time, the Liberty came in two different iterations, with the 2008 Jeep Liberty models marking a significant departure from earlier models.
What Jeep Liberty model years should you stay away from since it had a shorter lifespan than the majority? And are Jeeps good cars? Well, let’s try to answer that…
- Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid
- Jeep Patriot Vs Liberty
- Problems With Jeep Liberty
- Frequently Asked Questions
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid
From 1941 to 1945, the four-wheel-drive Jeeps were famous as an American military vehicle for a variety of purposes, including medevac and armed caravans; they essentially did everything.
Commercial success followed swiftly after the success in combat zones.
The Liberty initially came in three trim levels: the top-of-the-line Limited, a more powerful “Renegade,” and the entry-level Sport.
They were all offered in either 2WD or 4WD. In 2005, all Liberties underwent a slight renovation. The distinctive hood and grill available with the Renegade trim were eventually taken out in favor of a more urban appearance, which made it blend in more rather than stand out.
Despite the Liberty’s nomination for the North American Truck of the Year award in 2002, issues with its appearance, dependability, and safety recalls persisted.
With inventory prices between $5,000 and $18,000, the Jeep Liberty is a more affordable SUV, with most rivals’ average prices hovering around $25,000.
They are frequently less expensive for a variety of reasons, chief among which are their size and typical fuel efficiency. With fewer than 175,000 units sold overall in the US, the Liberty reached its peak in just its second year on the market, 2002.
Jeep would discontinue the model the following year as a result of declining sales and safety ratings that didn’t quite meet consumer expectations. These are the Jeep Liberty years to avoid.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid – 2002 Jeep Liberty
- Fluid leaks; • Recalled airbags and seatbelts; • Below-average NHTSA safety ratings
Despite its popularity and cult following, the 2002 Jeep Liberty model year is top of the list of Jeep Liberty years to avoid because it was the first to be made available to the general public.
This is mainly because of problems with the airbag system, seat belts, and overall safety rating of the car (it’s really muddying the water when wondering whether are SUVs safer than sedans).
The airbag light would occasionally come on at random, and they didn’t always inflate when there was a collision.
Although the airbag issues were serious enough, the 2002 model also experienced other recalls and fuel leak problems. These led to fires, and the crash test results were subpar, especially in the back.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid – 2004 Jeep Liberty
The 2004 Jeep Liberty model is also on our list of Jeep Liberty years to avoid. Defective ball joints and malfunctioning power windows are issues.
With the exception of early window failure and faulty ball joints (thus, requiring an expensive ball joint replacement cost), the reliability of the 2003 Jeep Liberty and its problems was superior to that of the 2002 model.
Sadly, the 2004 model did not continue the trend and gained a reputation for its problems and recalls. The 2004 model suffered from the same problems as the 2002 and 2003 versions, and many recalls for the 2004 model were more expensive because parts were harder to come by.
Jeep made some changes to this model to make it safer, but they were only slight and caused plenty of problems for drivers.
The fuel tank and reflectors posed a rare but significant driver risk. Although the 2004 model had more enticing aesthetic options, it is still a Liberty model year to steer clear of due to the risk of fires caused by gas leaks and brake reflector failure.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid – 2012 Jeep Liberty
There is no forgetting the 2012 Jeep Liberty among the Jeep Liberty years to avoid.
Although it’s probably not what comes to mind when considering SUVs, especially Jeeps, the 2012 Liberty’s fuel economy is significantly below average.
The Liberty reports as low as 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 miles per gallon on the highway, while other comparable SUVs average around 25 miles per gallon when driving in the city and 27 miles per gallon when driving on the highway.
Sadly, the 2012 Jeep Liberty had one of the worst model years in its history and did not make a graceful exit.
Before they abandoned the Liberty in 2012, a number of problems from earlier years were still prevalent. Consumer complaints indicate that the suspension problems from previous iterations are still a problem and that the ball joints and control arms will probably wear out before 50,000 miles.
If the vehicle is no longer under the manufacturer’s warranty, these repairs may be costly and will probably need to be paid for out of pocket after 50,000 miles.
The 2012 model had transmission issues as well, and due to a sharp decline in sales, it was replaced.
The gears move slowly, and the automatic transmission is notorious for lagging and failing early. Additionally, to prevent early component wear, a regular transmission fluid leak caused the need for frequent fluid changes more than in other vehicles.
The car still had a number of safety issues in 2012, despite having improved crash test results. In some accidents, the airbags didn’t even inflate, and the airbag light warning system was broken.
Jeep Patriot vs Liberty
Now that we’ve seen the Jeep Liberty years to avoid, let’s compare the Liberty with another popular model, the Patriot.
The Jeep Patriot and Liberty are both very similar vehicles. But which is better, and which should you choose, in the end?
The Jeep Patriot is regarded as a better family car with better miles per gallon, but the Jeep Liberty is better when it comes to towing and off-roading.
But when it comes to buying a car, it all comes down to what the driver wants.
To help you better understand the two cars before you make a decision, we will continue to compare them in a range of categories, including price range, engine power, and towing, as well as safety, color, and even customer reviews.
The price of a Jeep Liberty can range from $5,204 to $23,395 depending on the year.
The 2022 Jeep Liberty is the priciest model without any additional options, while older models with lower prices include those from 2002 and 2003.
The Jeep Patriot has typically cost more than the other option, but with the new option, things are a little different.
Older models cost about $6,000, but the 2022 Jeep Patriot changed the game and only costs about $22,000.
This decrease in price is the result of bringing back a slightly older design and many of the features of the 2017 model, which has been discontinued.
A 3.7L 6-cylinder engine is included with the Liberty. Additionally, it uses rear-wheel drive and has an automatic transmission with 4 speeds.
The engine has excellent towing capacity and runs on regular gas.
The Patriot, on the other hand, has a 2L 4-cylinder engine that can tow up to 1,000 pounds.
For an additional $1,500, you can add a 6-speed automatic transmission to the Patriot’s standard 5-speed manual.
The Patriot has rear-wheel drive, which helps with towing, unlike the Liberty.
If you’re thinking of getting a used Patriot, make sure you’re cognizant of the common Jeep Patriot problems, as well as the Jeep Patriot model years to avoid.
The Liberty gets 16 MPG while driving in the city and 22 MPG while traveling on a highway.
The Liberty’s fuel tank can hold 19.5 gallons of fuel, which means that even at its worst MPG, it can travel up to 429 miles.
Although the Patriot’s fuel tank can only hold 13.6 miles of driving, it does have a much better mile-per-gallon rate.
It will get an average of about 23 MPG in a city setting, and it can reach up to 30 MPG on the highway.
With this, the Patriot has a high floor but a low ceiling because it can travel 312.8 miles on average at its lowest end and 408 miles at its highest.
Black Forest Green Pearl, Bright Silver Metallic, Bright White, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Canyon Brown Pearl, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl, Mineral Gray Metallic, Natural Green Pearl, Rescue Green Metallic, True Blue Pearl, and Winter Chill Pearl are just a few of the more colors available on the Liberty.
The Patriot, however, only comes in the following hues:
- Granite Crystal Metallic Clearcoat • Mojave Sand Clearcoat • Recon Green Clearcoat • True Blue Pearlcoat • Billet Silver Metallic Clearcoat • Black Clearcoat • Bright White Clearcoat • Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat
Both vehicles do include a radio, cruise control (once you know how to use cruise control), tire pressure monitor, stability control, traction control, as well as a number of different seat features, as standard equipment.
Powered mirrors, air conditioning, and steering-wheel audio controls are all standard on the Liberty. A sunroof/moonroof, navigation, and a universal garage door opener (if you want to learn more, check out our explainer on the garage door spring replacement cost) are some additional add-on features.
The Patriot, on the other hand, has a huge selection of both standard and optional features. The Liberty includes a number of important features such as standard equipment, including Bluetooth, cruise control, ABS, and more.
Leather seats, powered mirrors, and a keyless entry are additional optional features.
The Liberty does receive a lower safety rating from the NHTSA, only receiving a 3 out of 5. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The Liberty receives a 2.5 for front crashes but ranks much better in side collisions, where it receives a 4.25, the car’s best rating.
The Patriots, in contrast, receive a strong 4 out of 5 stars for safety. They outperformed the Liberty in front crash safety, receiving a score of 3.5, and they scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in each of the 5 tested categories for side crashes.
There does seem to be a constant when it comes to public opinion, despite the fact that it can be quite variable.
The reviews for both vehicles appear to be consistently negative. But when it comes to deciding which vehicle the general public favors more, they choose the Liberty over the Patriot.
There are many causes, but the most frequent one seems to be how similar they are and how Liberty feels better.
Since both cars have advantages and disadvantages, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, but the general public will advise you to choose the Liberty over the other model.
Problems With Jeep Liberty
One of the first options that come to mind when considering affordable midsize SUVs is the Jeep Liberty. But there are some Jeep Liberty years to avoid as we’ve seen by this point.
Although this vehicle is a highly capable off-roader, various model years have had their fair share of issues.
Let’s consider some issues to you a better idea of the repairs that this car might eventually require. These are problems that have plagued Liberty over the years.
Jeep Liberty Reliability
Average ratings have been given to the Jeep Liberty by some notable organizations. It receives a 3.5 out of 5 rating from RepairPal, placing it 14th out of 26 midsize SUVs.
On Cars.com, where ratings are based on customer feedback, it received higher ratings, earning a score of 4.2 out of 5.
The typical annual cost of repairs for a Liberty is $674, which is about $100 more than the cost of upkeep for comparable SUVs (so, not really the cheapest SUV to maintain).
Even though one of the most well-known automakers in the world produced this SUV, using it won’t be without issues. Here are a few of the Jeep Liberty’s most typical problems:
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problems #1. Electrical System Problems
A late-model totally integrated power module (TIPM), a distribution box for the car’s entire electrical system, is standard on Chrysler vehicles.
Although it has benefits, it’s also a major reason why drivers of Liberty experience drivability issues.
The 2011 and 2012 models of this Jeep are frequently plagued by issues brought on by faulty TIPMs.
Some drivers have reported being unable to start their cars at all. This is while their gauges dropped to zero and all warning lights illuminated.
Other defective electrical parts, like the wireless control module (WCM) and body control module, may also be the source of these problems (in some cases, a simple body control module reset might solve it).
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #2. Power Window Issues With A Jeep Liberty
The most typical Jeep Liberty issue for models from 2006 (check out our guide for the full list of common 2006 Jeep Liberty problems, too) and 2007 is a broken window regulator.
When you roll down the windows, the defective component would make clicking noises and catch in the door latch, making it impossible for the Jeep’s door to open. Or, the power window won’t roll up at all.
Part replacement is the most typical solution to this problem. Depending on its type and configuration, a new Jeep Liberty window regulator may cost between $100 and $200 plus labor. That’s on the average end of the price range as far as power windows repair cost goes.
However, despite numerous regulator replacements, some owners claim they still had trouble opening their windows.
2010 saw the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against Chrysler because of the significant number of affected vehicles.
The automaker was said to sell Jeeps with window regulators that were beyond repair in the lawsuit.
There was a dismissal of the lawsuit in 2013. A related one that was also filed that year ended in failure.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #3. Broken Sky Slider Sunroof
The Liberty distinguishes itself from other midsize SUVs thanks in part to its Sky Slider sunroof.
Sadly, the fabric sunroof installed on the 2008–2010 models has a history of breaking down. Its drain tubes were prone to clogging, which led to water leakage into the vehicle’s interior in addition to getting stuck and making noise.
Several Jeep and Chrysler models affected by the same problem were named in a class action lawsuit filed in 2014.
The plaintiffs charged Chrysler with negligence for failing to provide owners with maintenance information, which resulted in interior damage to the vehicles.
The automaker consented to shell out the plaintiffs’ $129,000 in repair costs and $350,000 in legal fees in 2019.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problems #4. Transmitter Issues
Owners of some Jeep Libertys with a manual transmission from 2002 to 2010 (aside from the 2003 redesign) made some reports. When they accelerated, their cars would suddenly shift out of first gear due to a faulty synchronizer assembly.
There have also been reports of some automatic Jeep Liberty models from 2003, 2006, and 2010 remaining in default mode, which keeps the car stuck in one gear.
Those who had the powertrain control module reprogrammed (do check out our guide on the PCM reprogramming cost to learn more of what this entails) were able to fix the problem (PCM).
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #5. Leaking Fluid And Faulty Power Door Locks
Some Jeep Liberty owners from the model years 2002 to 2012 have reported fluid leaks from their cars. This is a result of transfer case or differential pinion seal wear.
These leaks may result in bearing failure. This could result in excessive vibration of the vehicle as well as whining or grinding noises.
Power door locks in both Liberty generations have reportedly failed in reports. Thus, necessitating an in-depth door lock actuator troubleshooting process.
The door lock actuator may need changing in order to fix the problem. This could cost between $100 and $200 plus labor.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #6. Exhaust Manifold Noises That Are Not Normal
Owners of Liberty models from 2002 to 2010 frequently complain about strange noises coming from the exhaust manifold.
Put aside the tapping sounds near the muffler or gas tank. The drivers have reported hearing ticking noises coming from the exhaust manifold. These are probably the result of broken or loosened bolts and gaskets.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #7. Fuel Tank Problems
Due to a defective fuel filler neck, the 2005 Jeep Liberty has experienced issues. This includes the gas tank overfilling.
It has happened that drivers filled up their tanks before the pump stopped. This causes gas to splatter on the outside of the car.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #8. Filler Neck On A Fuel Tank
Due to a defective fuel filler neck, which results in the gas tank overfilling, the 2005 Jeep Liberty has experienced issues.
On the other hand, the 2004 Jeep Liberty has significant brake problems.
There has been a report that the front brakes can lock up while the car is moving. Some drivers were only able to operate their vehicles in reverse during these incidents.
Many owners of this model year have tried replacing components. Examples include brake pads, brake calipers, and master cylinders without success.
There are no recalls as of yet to address the issue. Worse still, the average cost for a front brake job isn’t at all cheap.
If you’re still suffering issues where your brakes are locking up, it’s a good idea to at least find the cheapest place to get the brakes done to have it checked out.
Jeep Liberty Years To Avoid, Problem #9. Engine Issues
The engine misfire is an issue that both Liberty generations frequently experience. Engine knocking, rough idling, and excessive vibration have drivers reported all.
The most frequent cause was defective intake valves. Intake valve replacement can run you anywhere from $150 to $300 plus labor costs.
Engine misfire is a problem that both Liberty generations frequently experience.
The 2002 Jeep Liberty had issues that resulted in complete engine failure, which was not good. Vehicles with odometers showing more than 100,000 miles had a blown engine that required replacement. So, make sure you’re on the lookout for the signs of a blown engine.
Drivers of Liberty have expressed a lot of frustration over this. This is especially since an engine replacement could be more expensive than the value of their cars.
It doesn’t matter how well you maintain your SUV. You will inevitably have to pay for repairs as the miles add up.
However, you can maintain your Liberty in top condition and lengthen its service life. This is by being aware of potential issues and performing routine maintenance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Jeep A Good Car
With an Edmunds rating that averages 7.6 and a Car and Driver average rating of 8.7, you can be sure that Jeeps are great vehicles. Jeeps have been known for a long time as the all-American adventure car since they were first produced in the 1940s, but this reputation has been debatable in recent years.
Are Jeep Libertys Reliable
The Liberty has average reliability ratings, which means it’s unlikely to completely fail but may have a few issues in the first few years of ownership. Also, keep in mind that maintaining the Liberty is expensive.
How Long Does A Jeep Liberty Last
Typically, a Jeep Liberty lasts between 200,000 and 400,000 miles or 10 to 15 years. It goes without saying that how you use and maintain your Jeep can have a big impact on how long it lasts.
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