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2003 Jeep Liberty - big repair estimate - opinions please!

My '03 Liberty has 153,000 on it. I recently brought it into the dealer to have the oil changed because they do it for a decent price.

Upon inspecting the vehicle, the tech found several problems (not surprising on an older car)

(1) He said that my front drive shaft boot was torn. He said that the only way to fix it was to replace the whole front drive shaft assembly. $739.00

(2) He said that there were leaks in my power steering fluid lines. $856.00

(3) He said my right rear axle seal was leaking diff fluid. $223 for that.

(4) He said the bushings in my rear upper control arm were worn out and breaking into pieces. He suggested replacing the whole assembly for $830.00

(5) He also advised a power steering flush for $150, and a diff. fluid change for $420. I did my front and rear diffs about 20,000 miles ago.

So, I realize your input is limited given that you can’t see my car yourselves, but I’d like your opinions on his recoomendations and prices. To me they all seem very high. Also, do I really need to have the entire drive shaft assembly (see number 1) replaced? That seems nuts!

Thanks for your opinions.


This is the boot and joint kit for your front driveshaft

I’ve replaced these kind of parts, and it’s pretty easy. No reason to spend big bucks on an entire driveshaft. The dealer is probably not allowed to install an aftermarket joint and boot kit, so that’s why they recommend the entire driveshaft

I recommend against power steering flush . . . if you’re replacing leaking lines, why pay separately for a flush

$420 for diff service seems kind of high, even if it’s front and rear. If you serviced the 20K ago, there’s no way you’re due yet. They probably recommended the service, because maybe there’s no record of THEM having ever done it. This is common practice

how bad are those power steering fluid leaks? If something is just “sweating” I’d leave it alone and keep an eye on that fluid level

If you actually want or need to have any of that work done, you could probably get it done far cheaper at an independent shop. Cheaper labor rates and cheaper parts. Moog makes decent aftermarket parts, FYI

As far as that right rear axle seal, if it’s leaking fluid, it could soak your parking brake shoes. If you’re going to have it done, I advise having both sides done at the same time. And if the shoes are already contaminated, have them replaced at the same time

If the control arm bushings are indeed shot, and you get them done, you’ll want to do both sides at the same time. And you’ll need a 4 wheel alignment

Let me guess . . . you brought the car in for a regularly scheduled oil and filter change and tire rotation, and they performed a “free multi-point inspection” . . . ?!

Get a second opinion from an independent shop.

When I find a torn boot on a drive shaft, I recommend that the owner continue to drive the vehicle until the CV-joint starts making noise.

The reason is, it’s unknown how long the boot has been ripped and how much the CV-joint has been contaminated with debris. So you can go through the trouble of cleaning the CV-joint and rebooting the axle only to have the CV-joint make noise a month down the road. And you end up replacing the driveshaft anyway. Besides, the labor is more to clean and reboot a driveshaft than to replace the shaft assembly.

I don’t know why your being charged separately for the power steering fluid flush and the diff fluid change?

Those fluids have to drained in order to replace the components. So it should be included in the repair quote for those components.

The bushings? Well, bushings can weather check and look bad. But it doesn’t mean they require replacement. You look for slop in the bushings. And if none is found, the bushings are fine.


Agreed with both of you re. getting a second opinion from an independent mechanic. I have a local guy who I use for the bigger jobs on the car because he has a good reputation and charges fair prices.

I decided to have them do the oil and filter, then I picked up the car and called an independent shop. I have an appointment to bring it in and have him inspect the problems identified by the dealer’s technician. We’ll see what he says. I suspect he’ll agree with your assessments.

I just replaced both boots on the front driveshaft of my Liberty . Parts from here.

It is common for the power steering high pressure hose to weep on the Liberty’s . Not a dripping leak but an oily film on the outside of the hose .

Now you know why they do oil changes for a decent price.

Agree w/the others here, it should be possible to just re-boot that one drive shaft boot rather than replacing the entire thing for $700 +. Unless what is being proposed is to replace both front half-shafts for $700, so you’d have new boots and new front half shafts all around. To me anyway, that would be worth $700 and might be the most economical alternative if all the boots on both sides on the front need replacement, which is probably the case if one boot is bad and none have been replaced in 150K miles. All four boots should really be replaced every 60 K as routine scheduled maintenance in my way of diy’er thinking.

$233 to replace the axle seal on one side, that’s probably a reasonable price. And if it is leaking, it needs to be done. As said above, both sides should probably be replaced if not done before, so you might ask if there’s a discount to do the other side too.

Whether you need just new bushings or replace the entire ass’y, hard to say over the internet. If the bushings are failing, you do need to address that one way or another with due speed. And both sides, unless the other side has already been done, for the same reasons as above.

I’d just drain and re-fill the PS fluid as part of the hose problem, no flush required. $420 seems sort of high for changing the diff fluids, even it is both front and rear. I’ve done that job myself in my Ford 4x4 truck and hmm … I’d guessfor both front and rear it took maybe an hour - hour and 30 minutes to do, and maybe $40 worth of gear oil. There may be some other reason why the price is $420 for a Liberty tho.

The power steering lines, and for the whole kit and caboodle, I think you need a second opinion.

Here’s one idea: At 150 k there’s bound to be a lot of stuff needing doing. Come up with a complete list and shop that work around to several inde shops, asking for a discount b/c there’s so much to do. Then you’d have your Liberty in good condition for another 50- 100 K of care free driving, just some routine on-going maintenance of course.

Or another idea, this might be the best $$$-wise: Throw in the towel, and while the Liberty is still more or less behaving, sell it. And buy something newer with fewer miles.

Um . . .

did anybody actually look at my link?

It’s a boot AND joint kit

So who cares about any dirt that may have contaminated the old joint, because it’s getting replaced, anyways :smirk:

George, we’re talking about re-booting the front driveshaft, not the cv axleshafts

I should have thought of this yesterday. The tech shot a short video to show the issues outlined in my original post. Not sure if it’ll offer any insight beyond what I wrote, but here it is. Note - in the video, he said the leak was coming from the power steering pump. He later revised his diagnosis to say that the issue was in the power steering fluid lines. Also, he didn’t show the problem with the axle seals.

Can you see the bushings clearly enough to see whether you agree with his evaluation? Just curious.

Again, the independent mechanic will be looking at all of these issues later on in the week. I just like the input of the community here.

BRAND NEW OEM MOPAR FRONT DRIVE SHAFT 2002-2007 JEEP LIBERTY 3.7L #52111596AB (Fits: 2003 Jeep Liberty)
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This is a Mopar OEM shaft , there are also aftermarket shafts a lot less expensive . I agree with the others that it is much less expensive to just get a kit & fix your existing shaft .

New Control Arm Rear Driver or Passenger Side Upper With ball joint(s) RH LH (Fits: 2003 Jeep Liberty)
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This is the complete rear control arm with ball joint & bushings .

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You can buy aftermarket hose for $40.00 .

New Crown Axle Seal Rear Jeep Liberty 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 52070427AB (Fits: 2003 Jeep Liberty)
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The differential oil looked good to me. The rear axle seal is NOT leaking, if it was you would see the oil and grease from the rear wheel bearing all over the inside sidewall and inside surface of that wheel assembly. All wheels appear to be dry.

If you had a leaking power steering hose, you would have to add PS fluid from time to time. If the PS reservoir is full and stays that way, its not leaking.

It appears to me that the front drive shaft in question is not one of the front axles. It is the drive shaft between the transfer case and the front differential and it looks like he is showing the transfer case end of the drive shaft. The boot is definitely torn, but I don’t believe you have to replace the whole drive shaft. Just cleaning and replacing the boot is not likely to lead to noise later as this CV joint is not subjected to the amount of articulation you see in an outer CV joint on a front axle.

I can’t tell from the video if the upper rear control arm bushing is bad or not.

If you are uncomfortable with ignoring the dealer recommendations, I would suggest that you go to an independent mechanic for a second opinion.
This is just the boot he shows that needs replaced & next to it is the kit with joint .
The bushing in the rear control arm appears gone to me & unless your power steering has a dripping leak & you have to add fluid , I wouldn’t worry about that .
The kit db4690 shows is for the differential end of the front shaft & the video shows the transfer case end of the front shaft .


With all due respect . . .

I’ve seen LOTS of leaking axle seals that did not splatter the “inside sidewall and inside surface of that wheel assembly” . . . yet the parking brake shoes were absolutely soaked so bad, that the parking brakes just plain didn’t work

Just because something isn’t dripping at an insane rate does not mean the seal isn’t causing problems

It sounds like they are looking for extra work or are hoping you trade this junker in for something new. That is how it works sometimes.

I agree that much of this is likely too costly and some work may not even be needed. The front control arms/ball joints are a frequent problem on these though so they might need replacement.

The video was a little fast paced for me but offhand I didn’t see anything nefarious there. It’s a great idea to provide video.

The vehicle has 150K miles+ so repairs can pile up if they become cumaltive instead of inspecting things and fixing them along the way.

I do respectfully disagree with the premise of ordering parts online no matter how trouble-free the company makes it on returns and warranties.

I’d rather pay 80 dollars local for a part instead of 30 online simply because if I need a part I want it yesterday; not a few days in the future while hoping when it arrives it’s the right one and that it’s not some very low grade knock off.

For a DIYer online parts is not a problem. For a shop it can be.

It sounds like they are looking for extra work or are hoping you trade this junker in for something new. That is how it works sometimes.

Mechanics are always looking for work, it doesn’t matter what uniform they are wearing. If the customer trades in the vehicle the technician receives nothing, no labor. I have heard this is normal in the east coast but in the west we don’t like customer to trade rather that repair.

I suspect that most of these old Liberties are in this condition, failing drive shafts, loose suspension bushings, oil soaked cross-member due to steering leaks and oils soaked rear brakes because of leaking grease seals.

How you manage the last few years of ownership is up to you, limp along like the others or replace everything to be like new.

You should choose to repair what is critical to the reliability and safety of the vehicle.

You can order your parts online at a discount but you can’t order the labor, what will you do with the parts?

If this vehicle is in otherwise excellent shape you may want to keep it just for bad weather and the “zombie apocalypse”(hard to get traction with all that gore on the streets) otherwise its sounds to me like its a matter of throwing good money after bad,the Powertech V6s are not known for longitvity (I have one and makes some peculiar noises all its own) so its up to you after a while its more aggrevation then its worth .