2002 Jeep Liberty - engine knock->lost power steer and brakes

Hello everyone!

I was driving home from a backpacking trip when I noticed a knocking coming from my engine. It got worse as I drove up a large hill and suddenly became very loud, and I lost the ability to accelerate, power steering and brakes.

I managed to pull off the road and checked all my fluids, everything was good. No smoke from the engine and it was not over heating. I was unable to start the car, it wouldn’t even make a noise, just dead.

Check engine light is broken and remains on. No other warning lights came on while I was driving.

Would appreciate any insight or stories if any one has experienced something similar.

As an aside, I have had nothing but problems with my Jeep. I encourage anyone considering a Jeep to look elsewhere, they are junk!!!

You lost your power steering and power brakes because the engine died.
Since there was no smoke and no symptom of the engine having overheated, and the sequence of events started with an ever-loudening horrible knocking sound, I’ll bet lunch you have a seized main bearing. And if I’m right, and I’m 99.997% confident that I am, your engine is now toast. Sorry.

It’d be pretty simple to confirm. Pull the sparkplugs and try to turn the crank manually with the tranny in neutral. You should be able to turn it easily by hand or with a ratchet and soocket on the crank bolt. My money is betting the crank won’t turn.

Post back after you have the engine looked at.


I’ll second mountainbike’s answer. Your engine is likely seized up. You really should have pulled over as soon as you heard the motor knocking, warning lights or no, instead of continuing to drive it. I’d be willing to bet you’re the kind of guy that never checks oil between changes. If you get another car that has a “broken” check engine light that remains on, maybe you should find out what it’s trying to tell you is wrong with your car. While Jeeps may not be the pinnacle of reliability, it makes me sad when someone neglects a vehicle, probably never has even cracked open the owner’s manual, then when it breaks, they scream “It’s junk!” If this doesn’t apply to you, I apologize for presuming.

I wish you the best of luck. You will probably be best off looking for a salvage yard motor.

I want to echo what both mountainbike and oblivion stated.
Some very serious internal problems (likely to be either a main bearing or a rod bearing) caused the engine to essentially self-destruct. The shut-down of the engine led to the loss of power assist for the brakes and the steering.

As to why a catastrophic problem like this would take place with an engine, it is almost always attributable to lax maintenance, such as going far too long between oil changes. We don’t know the maintenance record of this vehicle, but I would be very surprised if this situation wasn’t a case of the chickens coming home to roost after an extended period of poor maintenance.

As was said, continuing to drive for even a few minutes after hearing this engine noise could have been the final nail in the coffin for this engine. As to Jeeps being, “junk”, while they would not be my first choice for a vehicle, I believe that maintenance is more relevant to this problem than the brand of vehicle.

As Oblivion stated, a used engine from a junkyard is probably your best solution at this point.

Lots of presumption here. I do my own oil changes every 3,000 miles, and yes I check my oil between changes. This car has driven me cross country, through Death Valley and other off road destinations so I have always tried to treat it right.

Let me also note that the issues I’ve had with the car include a tumbler breaking in my ignition which required the entire steering column to be replaced. Just terrible luck with this vehicle. This is the cause of my frustration. When I google the steering column issue and see 10s of thousands of people with the same problem, I get a bad taste in my mouth over Chrysler.

Thanks for confirming my belief that the engine is toast. I assumed a bearing went, same thing happened 10 years ago with my first car, an 86 Oldsmobile.

As for the knocking, I was going up a mountain road with no turn off. It all happened so quickly by the time I noticed it was knocking and over the pass the car died.

I will post an update later today. Sorry to burst your bubble about how I treat my car.

jeep has problems with the 3.7l v-6 sorry to say

Yep, I have a friend that had one of these engines in his Grand Cherokee (or whatever it was called at that time) and it was nothing but trouble. He got rid of it as the monthly repair bill was greater than the monthly payment he owed. I seem to remember the oil pump going out on this one at one point. I think this might have been the item that caused him to sell the car as the mechanic indicated the engine was oil starved for a time and that it might have future troubles. He blew a tire on the highway and this caused the entire rear end to come apart. It seemed like some electronic module was failing on a monthly basis.

Before this, he owned two other Chrysler products. One was an old Dakota with the 3.9L and the timing chain stretched. The next was an Intrepid with the 2.7L. He changed the oil every 3000 miles with synthetic but the engine still exploded. The tow truck driver told him that he saw these all the time but that his must have been a record for going over 100k before the engine self-destructed. I credit the synthetic oil for the longer life.

After three dud Chrysler products in a row, this guy swore he would never own another one in his life. Well, he went on to become a cop and was initially issued a Crown Vic. He said he would run the crap out of the thing day after day and it would never let him down. They issued him a Hemi Dodge Charger within the last year or so. He had it for a week and began noticing oil drips under the car. Then, the engine dropped a valve seat which led to a cascade of catastrophic events and a blown up engine at only 4600 miles.

Now, this friend is obviously biased against Chrysler. He says he gets a greater amount of motorist assist calls for broken down Chryslers than any other make of car.

While I know others who have had similar issues, they didn’t have so many problems with various MOPAR vehicles as this one fellow. I personally wouldn’t own one after all the bad stories. While all brands have a dud every now and then, it doesn’t seem like they have the same track record for cutting corners.

I’m beginning to think cwatkin doesn’t like Chrysler products. I’ve gotten many trouble-free miles out of mine. Maybe the ones he’s owned didn’t like him much either…

Re. the OP’s posting: It’s not unheard of, but is unusual for an engine to just fail like that these days, regardless of who made it and whatever bias you may have against them. I’d still suspect an oil-related failure, and/or an overheated engine. It would be interesting to see what a tear down of the engine reveals. It could have been a filter failure, you could have developed a leak that went unnoticed on a long trip. More info is needed.

I apologize for presuming you never change or check your oil. But I admit I’m a bit skeptical about the maintenance history when you mention a “broken” check engine light that stays on.

Mechanic said it threw a rod, he’s seen it a lot in these Jeeps and wasn’t surprised that it went. Gave me a conservative estimate of $4,000 for new engine and replacement. Guess now I’m in the market for a new car, looking into Subarus, my brother and I bought cars at the same time, and all he had to do to his Suby in the last 8 years is replace the timing belt. My experience with my Jeep has been horrific, literally something went wrong with the car every year. I will never purchase a Chrysler again, Jeep or otherwise.

Thanks for the insight.

Thanks sincerely for the follow up post. We rarely hear what happens in the end, and it feels good when we do.

Sincere best

The question is: Why did it throw a rod?

@MarkBC … sorry to hear your Jeep’s engine is on the fritz. Lots of people here say they like their Jeeps, so I don’t think one can generalize and say b/c your Jeep had some trouble, everyone’s will. It’s over 10 years old after all. And from your description has seen some tough service at times. Something or another is bound to go on the fritz. A broken ignition switch isn’t an unusual problem for example. In this case, even though you did all the routine maintenance on schedule, you were unlucky enough that what went wrong damaged something expensive is all. Might have been something simple like a broken oil pump, or even a faulty oil filter. But something simple breaking can do serious damage very quickly. Still, what’s an engine? It 's just a bunch of pieces of metal bolted together. Your problem, it’s just a broken piece of metal is all. You might could invest $4000 in a replacement engine, and your Jeep would be going strong 10 years from now. Even longer perhaps.

That said, if your objective going forward is best reliability possible, measured data is your friend. Be sure to consult Consumer Reports Car Guides. They rate each make/model/year’s reliability, and cost of ownership, based on reports sent in of people who own the cars. As an experiment, compare the CR ratings for the cars you are considering to the same year of Jeep. Might be enlightening.

I have heard the Liberties are troublesome vehicles. Look nice but have a lot of problems. The last Chrysler I had was a 1968 Dart with the 318. It was a good car and a good engine but everything has been down hill since.