Could a thermostat cause catastrophic engine failure of calipers and pistons?

I have a 2002 jeep Liberty with 96K miles. It was working fine and just stopped and had to be towed. I have a Chrysler extended warranty and a 3rd party
“independent reviewer” said the thermostat overheated and thus caused $7,000 in extensive engine damage. The car did not overheat, no smoke, no messages , no leaking, but because the thermostat is an unwarranted part, the entire job is not covered. I was told this after the dealer pulled the entire engine apart to find the thermostat problem and now the engine parts are all sitting in a box. What does a thermostat have to do with it? Anyone want to buy a jeep as is?

I imagine that there are a few missing details in this story, but in the meantime, I think that this is a perfect illustration of the limitations of almost all 3rd party extended warranties. If somebody wants an extended warranty, the only ones that are worth spending any money on are the ones directly from the vehicle manufacturer.

OP–can you provide at least a few more details regarding, “just stopped & had to be towed”?
Can you provide us with information on the vehicle’s maintenance history over the past 3 years?
Can you give us the details of how the brake calipers are (supposedly) related to the overheating problem?

If the thermostat failed and stayed closed that would cause the engine to overheat. If the thermostat failed and stayed open the coolant would circulate and the motor would not overheat.

A thermostat is not a replacement item, meaning the owner/driver isn’t at fault if it fails. Since this wasn’t an owner caused problem by lack of maintenance the extended warranty should cover it. Yet, many extended warranties are pretty bogus, so I think the OP needs a lawyer to get involved in this case.

This was an extended warranty directly from the manufacturer. I paid $2650 for the warranty when we purchased the car from the jeep dealer. I provided the maintenance paperwork to the dealer and it was agreed it was very well maintained. We bought the car at 66,000, and only put 30,000 miles on it. Yes, drove the car five miles, went in to shop and came out and turned car on backed up and it stopped. The initial diagnosis was a wiring harness and new battery. The electrical wiring harness was suppose to be covered and was not. Then it was rocker arms, and then a failed thermostat that was stuck closed according 3rd party reviewer. If it was closed, and overheated, why no messages, smoke, leaks, etc? I don’t know how calipers are related to overheating problem. They just told me that was the problem and it cost
7k to repair. I do have it in small claims but chrysler is in bankruptcy, so it has been a long battle.
I started in small claims, they moved it to federal and wanted it moved to the bankruptcy court in NY. I had dismissed and refiled and still working on 3rd party reviewer decision that the thermostat caused the overheating. I can’t afford a lawyer. The car is worth about 6K . Where is it documented that a thermostat is not a replacement item and the owner isn’t at fault if it fails. They claim the thermostat caused the engine damage. Therefore, themostat is not covered which caused the engine damage and therefore they are not paying. I am fighting this, and one persons decision. If anything; buyers beware when purchasing extended warranty because they are bogus. There are people out there with missing limbs from defects in the jeep and chrysler parts and because of the bankruptcy chrysler can walk away. Is the bankruptcy over? My warranty expires at 116k or 11/2013.

I suspect it was not the thermostat and they are just trying to avoid the claim. It would be pretty easy to check though-just take the old thermostat and put it on the stove in a pan of water. Use a candy thermometer to see when it opens. I suspect you are far beyond this though and good luck getting your money.

Thermostat is part of the cooling system. When I had a 3rd party warranty from Maxcare, it shows that anything that is part of the cooling system is covered. Not sure who you were going thru. When I bought my 2003 Toyota Matrix at Carmax, I bought the Maxcare plan for 3 years or 36,000 miles. I was 200 miles away before the warranty was no good. I had a bad humming noise from the back and I took it to Carmax. They said that the two back wheel bearings are bad but they are going to see if Maxcare will let them, replace all four. Luckly, The wheel bearings was consider part of the drivetrain and it was covered. They replaced all four wheel bearings and all I had to pay was $50. I got the invoice and it was for $2,600 I only paid $1560 for the warranty. So check your warranty booklet. I may be covered.

A thermostat can’t “overheat” itself; it can get stuck from corrosion in the cooling system and fail to open, which can cause the engine to overheat; and the overheating can do severe damage to the engine. So a $7,000 repair bill caused by a failed thermostat isn’t uncommon at all. The engine’s pistons could be damaged, sure. When the metal gets hot enough to warp, any moving part can be damaged. I’m not sure what you mean when you refer to the calipers. Calipers are a part of the brake system, not the engine, and wouldn’t be affected by the thermostat. Perhaps you misunderstood what the shop said.

I expect your shop tested the thermostat taken out of the car by putting it in a pot of hot water and noticed it was stuck shut no matter how hot the water got, that’s how they figured out the cause of the engine failure.

I’m not qualified to comment on the warranty issues. It depends on the exact language in the warranty. I think you’d get some push-back if you asked for warranty repair on this, as they’d say the driver should have noticed the engine was overheating and acting up and called a tow truck rather than continuing to drive it. It is possible for an engine to overheat enough to do damage, yet the overheating not be readily apparent to the driver. I had something like this hapen to me when driving in San Francisco, when I noticed a lot of fog in front of me, but I thought “hey, in SF, fog is to be expected”. Turned out it wasn’t fog, my radiator had sprung a leak. I noticed te fog was only in front of me, just in time, turned on the car’s heater full force, pulled over, and no engine damage was done. A $90 replacement radiator installed, I was back on the road.

Most folks with your problem – if you want to keep the car – would simply install another engine and be done w/it; a factory rebuilt engine or junkyard engine. There should be some good junkyard engines for a 2002 somewhere out there I expect. And the box of Jeep engine parts is worth some money to the junkyard too. Maybe ask your mechanic to contact his junkyard parts experts and see if you can cut a deal.

There’s a few paragraphs missing in this story. That would be the ones between “running fine”, “stopped”, and “towed”. Otherwise, the insinuation is that you simply pulled over and then had a non-problematic car towed for no reason.

A stuck thermostat can damage or destroy and engine and while it’s not often done, I personally consider them a maintenance item to be changed out every 4 or 5 years.
If the engine block cylinder walls and piston skirts on this engine are heat scored then that engine suffered some severe overheating that was ignored.

When Chrysler filed bankrupty they essentially washed their hands of any obligation to perform existing factory warranty or extended warranty repair work. The odds of a thermostat being on the extended warranty list is pretty slim but even if it was the bankruptcy filing voided it and everything attached to it.

You’re also mistaken about a bankruptcy being “over”. Once filed it’s a done deal and the passage of time will not resurrect the warranty.

You might want to find out what an independent local certified mechanic would charge for the same repairs. If you have to pay out of pocket, you may be able to cut that $7000 price tag drastically by getting away from the dealership.

I assume you need your car? If so, I think the quickest and least painful thing to do is take the car to a reputable, local, independent garage and have a used engine installed. I imagine this would cost about half of the $7000 estimate you have from the dealer. Then you’re back on the road in a running car and can pursue your legal options to recover the cost you’ve incurred already. That is going to be a long road to travel but at least you’ll be driving your car again.

I would have argued against the engine being torn down initially unless there were some extenuating circumstances, and I would argue that the problem should have been covered. But the reality now is that you have a Jeep with no engine and it sounds like you’re not going to get any warranty work or financial resolution. So, you have to decide; walk away or tow it elsewhere and have a new/used/or rebuilt engine put in. And eat the cost.

Now, and without judgement, if you’ve left anything out or exaggerated the current condition of the engine, say so and perhaps that’ll change my recommendation.