New car or replace engine - 2002 Jeep Liberty?

2002 Jeep Liberty 3.7L, 4WD, 6-cyl., VIN K, 111k miles.

Losing coolant internally. So I have a head gasket problem. Mechanic quoted 2k-5k to repair depending on whether or not cylinders need replacing, etc. Then turns to me and says I can replace the engine for the same price. Vehicle runs perfectly that is until I hit the highway or sit in traffic. Then it heats up, turning heat on cools it down. My BF replaced the thermostat, fan (which was broken into bits), water pump and flushed several times. We were hoping it was one of the “cheap” repairs. Took it in for compression test and was told leaking coolant internally. So here I am.

I am on disability so a car payment will be VERY financially stressful. I need a taller vehicle due to my condition so SUV’s suit me best. I drive under 10-15k a year. Looking online to get ideas most used SUV’s 2005-2008 year range 80-100k in miles are running $11-14k. My dilemma is not just having to have a car payment for 4-5 years but that I would be paying for a vehicle that I have parked out front right now, just a few years younger but with SAME mileage!!! Why would I want to pay $300 a month for what I have now with NO car payment, and that I really like my vehicle.

So is replacing an engine a better idea or do I start looking for a new car because it’s not worth it to replace an engine in a 2002 vehicle with 111k miles ???

If the Jeep is in overall good condition and you like it then I would find a good used engine to install.

I love my Jeep. :slight_smile: Where would I begin to look for a good used engine?

You need a second estimate, and it can be determined whether more than the headgasket needs to be replaced. Now I am not implying that future repairs and a new car now is not a better option, but if you do a new head gasket and get 4 months out of the car and you are even, vs 300 per month for how long?

I’m trying to understand what happened here. It seems you had overheating problems which your BF tried to troubleshoot and repair. By the time the overheating was resolved you blew a head gasket, and perhaps now have more internal engine problems as a result of coolant in the cylinder(s).

Without knowing more about the condition of the current engine, and the only way to find out is to tear it, a rebuilt motor might make sense for you. If the rest of the car is in good shape a quality rebuilt motor (Jasper is a good rebuilder) might be a good option. If you had a good motor would you be driving this car for then next 5 years? If yes, it is worth the money.

I don’t know if an electric vehicle is right for you, but you can get a 36 month lease on a Chevy Volt for $2529 down and $260 per month. It’s a screaming deal if you can swing the monthly payments.

@ Uncle Turbo - yes we tried to trouble shoot. Gasket is not blown as I can still drive it now just only 15-20 min at a time. The compression test I had today indicated a leak of coolant internally. They said: “Performed cooling system check. Pressure tested system. Internal collant leak. Would recommend pulling heads to inspect gasket and heads for cracks or warpage. Possible just the cylinder heads would need machined and gaskets replaced. Could need one or two cylinder heads replaced. Estimate is from $2000 - $5000”.

Yes I would drive another 5 years if I had a good motor.

Another opinion.

Head gaskets can be fixed for far less than that amount.

My local Subaru mechanic does them for $1000 in a Subaru. Keeps him busy as common issue.

I agree that another opinion is warranted. You state the engine only overheats on the highway or while idling in traffic. A failed head gasket is not going to pick and choose.

If coolant is entering even one combustion chamber then there should be some white smoke out of the tailpipe and it should be evident on the tips of the spark plugs. Coolant will also clean the inside of any cylinder that it enters and a borescope would show this.

Maybe this is a clogged radiator or erratic fan operation problem and not a head gasket failure at all. Just something for consideration anyway; and a failed head gasket diagnosis that is incorrect is not unheard of.

If I remember correctly there is an issue with these Jeep engines and head gasket failure. You want to be certain of the diagnosis before you proceed, but I see no reason not to fix this engine if you have maintained it–and the rest of the car–well.

Best case scenario is it’s going to cost you $2000 or so. This engine has 3 timing chains and has some special procedures for replacing the head gaskets. Also the cylinder heads will need to be resurfaced to a specification that not all machine shops are able to do. In the unlikely event that a head or 2 needs to be replaced the cost may rise to $3500 or so, but it shouldn’t be more.

There’s always a possibility that there is damage to the engine block, but that’s kind of rare on these engines, at least in my experience.

An internal coolant leak is most likely a bad head gasket. You really shouldn’t need a new (or rebuilt) motor. Heads and head gaskets aren’t that difficult or expensive to repair.

If the coolant leaked in significant amounts into one or two cylinders the coolant washes away the oil and that means less lubrication to the affected cylinders. This can result in damage to the cylinder walls (scoring, which are grooves due to metal on metal contact). If the cylinder walls are damaged the rings wear quickly and you will not get good compression in the damaged cylinder(s). That is the point where you would need to change out the whole engine for a used or rebuilt one.

Pulling the heads will allow the mechanic to tell you exactly what happened to your engine and what needs to be done from there.