Reputation of Jeep and the Big 3

A person I know bought a Jeep Liberty a couple years ago and has had countless problems with it. Some have been little things, some more significant. To make things worse, Chrysler phased out the dealership where he purchased it, so now he needs to go elsewhere for work. So, I’m wondering what some of you think of the Jeep Liberty. Are they problem vehicles or did he get a lemon? He’s spoken to several owners of them who love them and have had no problems and others who have had nothing but problems.

As a result of all these things, I heard him say yesterday that he’ll never buy another American vehicle when he’s done with the Jeep in a few years. As a person who would never consider anything outside of the Big 3 American companies, it was hard to hear. I realize the “American Made” title isn’t what it once was as stickers on most cars show not nearly 100% of the parts are US-made and Chrysler isn’t American owned either. I’m just wondering what you think of the quality reputations of American vehicles now days. Can this person expect problem-free cars from abroad or are there still good chances of issues.

Although I would not recommend the Jeep Liberty or any other Chrysler product for that matter, there are a number of reasonably good US designed and built cars on the market.

In general, American cars have improved a lot lately, and I would not hesitate to buy a Ford Fusion, or a Buick, for instance. If you buy a copy of the Consumer Reports Auto Buying Guide, you will get a feel for how well US cars rate. It gives an 8 year repair history for nearly all makes sold in the US. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

The Liberty, like almost all Jeep models, is “worse than average” in terms of mechanical and electrical/electronic problems.

That being said, any make of car can have “issues”, including those from abroad.
In fact, German-branded cars tend to be the absolute worst in terms of how often they need to be repaired.

Japanese cars and Korean cars tend to be more reliable, but they have potential issues also, such as Honda’s transmission problems and Subaru’s head gasket problems. While both of those issues seem to be in the past, the fact remains that there is no brand of car–domestic or foreign–that can be counted on to have no issues. The Japanese and Korean ones just seem to have fewer issues than US-branded cars, and FAR fewer issues than German-branded cars.

there are thousands of variables when it comes to quality of cars, all the way from the consumer, to the head of the company. things like the guy bolting the engine together, if hes not happy that day about the manager, you dont get a good engine. pieces come from everywhere, and that factory may have an off day. or if the driver runs it ragged without knowing it. or something slips by the inspector. or the repair shop you take it to has internal issues.

all these are varients that will make or break a car. this is why 2 identical cars run the same, one will live longer then the other.

American car quality is far better than it used to be, and in many cases catching up with the Japanese companies. That applies to Ford and many GM models, but unfortunately not to many Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep models. So I wouldn’t argue with your friend if he swore off Jeeps, but all American vehicles? He’s absolutely wrong!

He got a lemon according to MSN Autos. They list a cooling fan relay as an occasional problem on the 2002. Since that time, problems are rare. And if he buys a Honda or Toyota truck, who’s to say it won’t be in the group with problems? The Toyota Tundra had significant problems with the engine during 2000-2002 and moderate problems in 2003-2004.

I can understand that he doesn’t want another Chrysler product. I feel the same way about Ford. I’ve had 3 Fords over the years and they all were enough trouble that I sold them long before 100,000 miles. I know that Ford quality is better than it used to be and my last one was a 1996. But my experience soured me on them. I’ve had great success with GM cars and I always include them on my short list when I buy. I also own a Honda and am happy with it.

I agree that Ford and GM have largely closed the reliability gap. Jeep, unfortunately, is not known for its stellar reputation, and the reputation it has is one that it’s earned.

While I personally am a Toyotaphile, I’ve come to believe that Buick in particular is underrated. Cadillac has done a great job these past years…I hope it doesn’t slip back where it was. Many GMs this past decade have been branded models of other company’s cars…some not so hot. While some may claim of these cheaply made attempts that “they’re actually not GMs”, in my mind if GM chooses to enter the arrangement they earn the reputation results.

I guess I’d summarize it like thus as far as reliability.

Ford has come far, and for the most part has stayed true to it’s name. They design and take responsibility for their own brand. And they’ve done some nice stuff.

GM has chosen over the years to deviate from its “core” and become a company who, for most of their car lines, has stopped impproving designs, and for economy lines has chosen to not even bother but to instead buy “branded” vehicles from other manufacturers. I don’t think they’ve fooled anyone, and I do think it has affected their reputation and their business overall. Also, GM has chosen to use its financing division as it’s “bread and butter” rather than its cars. It was a financing company too much and a csr company too little.

Chrysler has taken bold chances with entirely new design concepts. The Ram “big truck” look, the PT Cruiser “retro” look, the Chrysler 300 “gangster” look, and others. Unfortunately their quality has not stood the test of time. And their business decisions were less stellar than were their designs.

“This person” can enhance his chances of getting a reliable high quality car by research past empirical data by reading consumer ratings mags for cars. He needs to make a selection based on what’s’ important to him. People who buy Jeeps buy them for reasons other than reliability. How happy they are with them depends on how committed they are to their reasons and whether they did enough homework to make the purchase with their eyes open.

If all he’s ever driven has been Jeeps, then I could see why he’d not want anymore American vehicles. However, that’s like saying you don’t like cheese just because you smelled Limburger once.
There are much better vehicles(unless you want a factory made offroad vehicle) out there made by American companies. The Ford Escape and Sport Trac are popular vehicles around where I live

As far as I know the Jeep Liberty has been the most problem prone Jeep. So you take a brand that is not known to have a stellar reputation and you buy what could be their worst model, then I think there is not surprise that it will need repairs. Having said that I have friends that like their Liberty despite all the issues. I would not bunch all US makes and models with Jeep Liberty.

I’m a huge fan of Consumer Reports. They are non profit whose survival depends upon their integrity. That’s not to say their advice is infallible or w/o mistakes. I feel the most important seldom quoted reader reported poll is customer satisfaction. Cars that are not too reliable may be loved (Vettes) and others that are reasonable, not.

What is the satisfaction rating of most Chrysler products ? Not very good for the most part regardless of some models with at least average reliability. There’s a reason their ownership has been in flux for many years.

American name plate cars as well as others have come out with new products that have been well received. Before I’d buy a one, I want to see good reliability and satisfaction reports for they and their derivatives for the length of time I plan on keeping the vehicle. This for me, is usually 5 to 10 years depending upon use and miles . Let someone else be a test bed with their hard earned before we in the “prove it to me crowd” commit the big bucks.
I’d stay with the Crown Vics, some Buicks, Camrys, Accords and the other old standbys.