Bought a non-working '02 Liberty, where to start?

The car doesn’t start, makes a click thats it. When I had it towed to my place, I noticed oil was leaking from the bottom. My tow truck guy thinks the motor’s completey blown, I’m hoping it’s just the starter and the oil gasket. Battery is fine, I am going to check for error codes in the morning. The car has 157,000 miles and has never been in an accident. The original owner told me the car just stopped on them. Would like advice on what to look for to see if the motor’s completely blown or if it’s something less serious. Thanks in advance to all replies.

first things first . . .

can you turn the engine over manually, with a socket and 1/2" drive breaker bar

does the engine even have oil . . . ?!

A bad starter motor will NOT cause the engine to stop running

It will only prevent the engine from starting

Does the engine oil look completely black, and thick as molasses . . . ?!

You should have found out if the engine is blown BEFORE you bought it…if not then you should have assumed it was and paid accordingly.

It could be blown…it could just be a starter or battery…But expect the worse and expect to pay dearly to have it fixed.

Agreed with db4690 about making sure the engine has oil and trying to rotate it with a breaker bar.
If the engine is full of fresh clean oil then you should assume the worst. People have a tendency after wiping out an engine to fill it with fresh oil and a new filter either in the mistaken belief this will help or in an attempt to cover up a known problem while playing dumb.

I’ve even seen this before on a VW with 2 connecting rods sticking through a fist-sized hole in the engine block. Very optimistic thinking on that one…

Sounds to me like the motor is locked up and I hope you didn’t give too much for it.

The scrap value is 2 cents a lb. I would find out exactly what is wrong and what it takes to fix it. We cannot tell from here. On a car that age a transmission or engine failure usually means the end of the road.

Bought a non-working '02 Liberty, where to start?

I would start by getting rid of it and getting something that runs.

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Error codes aren’t going to help you at all. Don’t even bother.

First try db’s suggestion. If the crankshaft won’t turn with a breaker bar, especially with the spark plugs removed, you have a serious internal problem. Something in it is seized, or perhaps the oil leak is telling you that a rod bearing seized, popped the rod, and it punched a hole in the engine.

At that point, and I’m betting you’ll get to that point, your options will be to try to sell it to the scrapman by the pound or to start looking for a replacement engine. Your options are rebuilt (crate), or boneyard. Rebuilt will run your perhaps $3-4 grand, boneyard about half that. Since you have no idea what condition the rest of the vehicle is in, you may want to try to sell it by the pound or “as-is” as a parts car and think of the loss as the cost of an education. Investing in an engine for a vehicle of unknown condition is not generally a wise choice unless you’re restoring a classic.

If my guess is wrong and the crank does turn with the breaker bar, and the oil wasn’t coming from a hole in the engine or oil pan, post back. Your next step will involve looking for spark and fuel. We’ll walk you through it.

The only economic way to save it would be to find a junkyard that will transfer a working engine from a rear-end wreck into this Jeep

Or find a junkyard that will install an engine that’s already sitting on the pallet

I wouldn’t even dream of this, unless that shop/junkyard is willing to guarantee their used engine will start up and run well

If your engine is toast, and you can’t find a junkyard/shop that makes such assurances, I advise you to cut your losses now

Regardless of what the problem turns out to be, I hope you bought dirt cheap

Of course, dirt cheap doesn’t mean the same to everybody :dizzy:

I hope this Jeep isn’t rusty

Another ugly thought . . . you may get the Jeep running with a used junkard engine, and on your “maiden voyage” discover that the transmission and/or differential also need serious attention, if not an outright overhaul/replacement

it’s a roll of the dice

I won’t even buy a used car unless it’s licensed and insured for the street and driven daily. Too many scenarios that don’t end well are possible otherwise, over and above the chances one takes on a legally drivable used car after a thorough check over.

When a car gets parked and the license plate is removed and weeds are growing around it then I imagine the worst wondering how it got rejected. Too many fish in the sea…

You shouldn’t buy something like this if you have to ask the question of where to start. With 157000 miles and it doesn’t run, what did you expect?

It could be possible that the engine is suffering from what is called a hydraulic lock. Either coolant, raw gasoline, or possibly oil has gotten into one or more cylinders. Remove the spark plugs and try to crank the engine over with the starter. If thr engine then turns over and you see the excess fluid pumped out of a,cylinder, then all isn’t lost. The engine may be repairable.

Good thought, Triedaq. Here’s hoping you’re right.

For the education of the OP, hydraulic lock is where fluid has gotten into a cylinder and is preventing the crankshaft from turning. Fluid doesn’t compress well. It can stop an engine dead in its tracks.

Seems to happen quite often when somebody decides to drive their car through flood waters

If the OP had come here asking for advice before buying this vehicle can I guess that no one would have considered it worthwhile? Such a vehicle would be a money pit even for an experienced DIYer with a well equipped shop.

Yup, that’d be a safe guess. :smile:

can I guess that no one would have considered it worthwhile?
If you have to ask, you can't afford it...
If you have to ask, you can't afford it...

OTOH If you don’t ask, you don’t know what to write on the check!

I’m seeing a lot of pessimism in this thread … lol … Hey, whether this 2002 Jeep purchase makes sense or not depends on the amount of money changing hands. And this Jeep, it’s not that old, a 2002 is still within the vintage range of most cars on the road these days. Both of my vehicles are considerably older than that and still reliable enough for daily drivers.

Concur w/ Db’s suggestion above to hand turn the engine, & check the fluids is a good place to start. The no-crank problem can be easily diagnosed , starting with a simple voltage check at the starter motor terminals during attempted cranking. The problem that caused the engine to quit in the first place might be very simple, like a failed crank position sensor. Of course it could be a blown engine. Either way, the good things about cars as opposed to electronic gadgets like TV’s and DVD players, there’s replacement parts available so whatever is wrong can usually be fixed.

How ironic the discussion following this one is titled “JUNKYARD”.