Seized Engine with only 79,000 Miles

While driving my 2006 Jeep Liberty with 79,000 miles on it, the oil light came on. I preceded to drive for approximately 3 miles where the car shut down. I pulled over and attempted to start the car. It acted like it wanted to turn over, but sounded like the battery was dead. I towed the Jeep to the dealer where they proceeded to tell me that my engine seized up and it would cost me $5,000 for a new engine. I am the second owner of the Jeep and have owned this truck for 3+ years, so my warranty is invalid. Do I have any recourse? Please help me!

First off, why would you drive for 3 miles if your oil light is on?
Second, did you ever check to see if you had any oil in your engine by using the dipstick?
Third, why do you think you would have any warranty in if your vehicle is 5 years old, and has 79k miles on it?

And Fourth, how can it sound like it wants to start if your battery is dead? That just doesn’t make sense.
The engine can’t crank if the battery is dead, so there’s no way the truck can sound like it wants to start.


While I empathize with the OP, I also feel that it is time for him/her to educate himself/herself about things automotive.

>Check your oil dipstick at least every couple of weeks in order to maintain the crankcase oil at or near the full mark. Ideally, as soon as the level drops by 1/2 qt, you should replenish the oil. NEVER allow the level to fall more than 1 qt below the “full” mark. In fact, your Owner’s Manual instructs you to check the oil every time that you fill the gas tank. How often do you check the oil dipstick?

>When an oil pressure warning light starts glowing on your instrument panel, that should be interpreted as, “Pull over immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so, and shut down the engine”. This is also something that is noted in the Owner’s Manual. Driving for more than a few more seconds with that light glowing is likely to cause catastrophic engine damage.

>After pulling the vehicle to the side of the road, the first step is to check the dipstick in order to determine the level of oil in the crankcase. If it shows a very low level, then it is reasonable to get a few qts of oil, and add them–slowly–in order to raise the level on the dipstick to the “full” mark. Then, the engine can be restarted in order to see if the oil pressure warning light turns off. If the light does not turn off, shut the engine down again, very quickly!

>If the level of oil is normal and the oil pressure warning light is lit up, that means DO NOT RUN OR RESTART THE ENGINE! Have the vehicle towed or flat-bedded to a reputable garage.

>The only recourse at this point is to obtain a time machine and use it to go back in time to NOT do what you did. Yes, I realize that this is not possible, but on a car with no warranty, you have no recourse whatsoever, and–in fact–even if the car was still under warranty, if you allowed the crankcase to run dry or if you drove with no oil pressure, you would still not be covered, as this constitutes “owner negligence” (See the first bullet item above!).

Unfortunately, you shot yourself in the foot, so to speak.
Hopefully, you will be more knowledgeable and more responsible with the next vehicle.

Sorry for nothing but bad news!

, the oil light came on. I preceded to drive for approximately 3 miles…

That is says it all. Three miles with an oil problem certainly must be the first thing I would think of as the cause of your problem.

Of course, I checked the oil and it was full. 2-the battery wasn’t dead but I know what a battery sounds like when its dead or not. 3-I called the dealer immediately when the oil light came on and they told me could be that I had no pressure due to just getting gas and the gascap might not me tight. 4-I pulled over immediately upon seeing the oil light come on, checked the oil, and the light went off. About a mile later, the light came back on, and two miles later the car stalled. 5-I called the dealer about the warranty as well, and for your information there is a 5year warranty for the first owner up to 100,000 miles, not the second owner. 6-I posted this for help not criticism. Thank you for your time.

tjp, I’m afraid you have no recourse with the dealer. The engine is seized, most likely due to lack of oil pressure. With the truck out of warranty, the dealer has no obligation to help you here. And, they will want to install a new or factory-remanufactured engine.

However, an independent mechanic would put a salvaged engine from a wrecked Jeep into yours for far cheaper. Just remember, most salvage yards would give you a 90 day warranty on the engine, but not cover labor charges to remove and replace if it turns out to be a dud. You may get lucky and find one with less miles, but it would be common to find one with about the same mileage. Prices vary depending on engine option and availability, but I’m sure it would be much less expensive than the dealer.

PS. The oil light is there just for OIL PRESSURE. This is not OIL LEVEL and has nothing to do with the gas cap. That gas cap thing is a major red herring. I’d press the dealer mechanics to explain why the engine lost oil pressure with a crankcase full of oil. That sounds like an oil pump failure of major proportions. Did you buy the truck from a dealer AS-IS, or with the factory warranty intact? If you bought it from the previous owner, then in my state, it is an AS-IS sale and the dealer can void the warranty. You could possibly ask if you can get a ‘good-will’ offer from the regional office to lower the dealer estimate, but don’t hold out much hope there.

How long since your last oil change did this happen? An engine seizes due to lack of oil. If you can show it was something that can be attributed to loose oil filter etc. you might have a chance of collecting damages, but I cannot tell you how many people here have had a similar problem. After reading some of the horror stories I go check my oil, and it is fine. Unlike recommended here I generally think if I change the oil I don’t have to worry unless something goes wrong, and in 50 plus years of driving have never had an engine seize due to lack of oil, but have learned if that light goes on pull over, stop, and get a tow.

I am very sorry to hear this…however the sentence that pained me the most was… “the oil light came on. I preceded to drive for approximately 3 miles where the car shut down” I am certain others have asked you this, but my God…WHY…would you do that?!

We are a car community…full of mechanics and DIY’ers who love cars…so… Brace yourself for the answers you will receive here…

When the oil light comes on…it is cause for IMMEDIATE ENGINE SHUTDOWN…No thinking…no finishing your phone call or cup of coffee…IMMEDIATE ENGINE SHUTDOWN…I believe this so strongly that I and the guys on this site have pondered the many ways that we could make this occur… There are several ways to do it actually…

ANYWHO… Jeez. That’s terrible news. SO…what happened? What caused the oil light to come on? IF it was full of oil then it sounds like you have suffered an oil pump failure… YOu DEALER THOUGHT you said “check engine light” most likely…that is the only light that could illuminate after filling with fuel… They were GREATLY mistaken to tell you that it was because of your gas fillup… Are you SURE you didn’t say my ENGINE light is on? No matter…when that oil light comes on its SHUTDOWN TIME…if you restart and it comes on again…ITS SHUTDOWN TIME… That dealer should have their collective heads examined if they told you about filling with gas with your OIL LIGHT illuminated… They either heard or were told about the Check engine light…

That final 3 miles worth of driving killed the engine, thats for certain…but wow…what led to all this? That’s an awful short life for this vehicle. You must have more info than this…

THE REASON your car sounded like the battery was drained…was because you basically MELTED all the friction surfaces together inside your engine…and it is MUCH much more difficult to spin the engine over at that time… After you let it cool down…the starter will not be able to budge the engine at all…It will basically be in ONE giant piece…instead of hundreds of polished surfaces and parts all working together as in a healthy engine.

I am afraid you have no recourse and there’s not much help we can offer except to say you need a new engine…because your oil pump had failed…that didn’t kill it…the 3 miles killed it…basically the only thing left for you to do is to RE-POWER this vehicle with a new engine…I’m sure its in great shape and deserves a new engine… You can buy and have a used engine put in for under 1800 or at least YOU SHOULD be able to… The engine alone will be anywhere from 800-1200 and install round 500… Its worth it to do…and before putting it in…I’d buy an aftermarket Performance Oil Pump and install it first…because there is obviously something up with the factory units… Maybe you will hear more and more oil pump failure stories soon…maybe there was a defect in them? No matter…Oil light=Shutdown…I’m sure you know all about that NOW… Wish you knew earlier…

Sorry to hear about all this, but it was you who actually killed it… Yes the engine had a failure…but it was more than saveable…Until those fateful 3 miles… Yikes… My sympathies…

Checked ebay…there are several engines avail…all under 1500 some under 1000…That’s your way out…


One other possibility for loss of oil pressure is a clogged oil filter. There is a bypass valve that is supposed to protect the engine but I would not count on that. Did you have the oil and filter changed just before this happened?

I don’t see you having any recourse at all unless you had the oil changed just immediately before this happened.

You drove the vehicle for 3 miles with the oil light on and this makes me ask the tired old question; why do they even put oil lights and temperature gauges on any vehicle? They just take up space, add more complexity, and are generally ignored anyway.

No one’s criticizing you. They’re educating you. You’re far from the first person that’s come through here who thinks the oil light means “stop when convenient.” The oil light means stop right NOW. Unfortunately, you’ve learned that the hard way and will have to replace the engine.

I will criticize one thing, however. . If the dealer really told you that maybe the oil light was on because your gas cap was off, whoever told you that is a clueless idiot who has no business working anywhere even slightly related to the automotive industry, and you should never ask that person anything ever again.

Warranty pays for the repair of defects in materials or workmanship.
An engine seizure is almost always caused by:
A. Lack of oil or enough of it and failure to check the oil level regularly.
B. Oil sludging due to lack of regular oil changes.
Neither are warrrantable causes nor should they be.

So being curious I ask the following.
When was the last oil change performed and how often are the oil changes performed?
How often do you raise the hood and check the oil level?

OK I hear what you say, I have driven many miles with a check engine soon light, first, a faulty gas cap I think as I cleaned it and all was good a week later, then a coolant temp too low, after on and off for 6 months finally replaced the thermostat. There really needs to be better information as to when a light goes on do you ignore it or stop driving.

Beg for mercy from corporate Jeep. If you use the Jeep dealer for maintenance you may have a slight edge at getting something.

A new motor likely is some serious money. A used motor is likely the least inexpensive route.

No its night and day… Oil light = IMMEDIATE SHUTDOWN… Check engine light = just that…check engine…when convenient… FLASHING Check engine = possible serious engine/transmission issue…serious issue…check IMMEDIATELY.

Everyone who drives a car should know about the Oil light because they have been around almost since the invention of the automobile… Er…at least since autos became “civilized” a long time…just put it that way… and the oil light has ALWAYS meant…STOP IMMEDIATELY…ENGINE SHUTDOWN ASAP… That’s a pretty damn simple concept. We get into these discussions when people start second guessing simple things and reaping the rewards.

I Do admit that the Oil light should be accompanied by a flashing RED LIGHT…A SIREN…A Flashing or constant lit notice of SHUT DOWN ENGINE IMMEDIATELY with a NASTY buzzer, like the alarm clock buzzer that wakes you up…something not easily ignored…

Instead the oil light just illuminates…like…uh…hey…umm… I’m lit over here…Hello?..Bueller?..Bueller?..Bueller?..did you see me lit over here?

Since people don’t see large buses careening down the street I have little hope for the diminutive oil light. It should have MUCH more Dire warnings associated with it…Like a skull and crossbones within an Engine symbol or something…LOL

I STILL want an auto shutdown attached to it…but that would surely be dangerous… But SOMETHING more serious at the VERY least I mean C’mon…

If they heard this whole story NOBODY in Corp Jeep would even think about doing anything to assist here…

I admit to in college driving 55 miles back from a ski area with my oil light not only red but also an obnoxious buzzer going off in an 85 VW Jetta. I did check oil level along the way and it was fine so I drove on.

Turned out to be a $60 repair of an oil pressure sensor.

The mid 80s VWs used what was called a Dynamic Oil System and they were prone to odd hiccups due to sensors and whatnot.

Most engines don’t work that way and the seized engine in that Jeep is because that red light was brushed aside.

I’ve said this before (in other forums, to other people), and I’ll say it again:

By the time you see that glowing red light on your dash, it’s too late. With an engine spinning at 2 thousand, 5 hundred revolutions per minute (spelled out for effect), it takes mere seconds to cause damage that cannot be undone, except for part replacement.

Now, that doesn’t mean that every time you see that light (like when you start it) you’ll do irreparable damage, but at speed, you almost certainly will. Ignoring it most definitely will. Checking oil level isn’t a solution, as you found out, merely the first step.

Oh, well. Replacement engine time.

Good luck,

The OP says there was normal oil levels in the motor when it seized up. Accepting that, then what could have happened here? And is there a dealer or mfg’r fault?

When synthetic oils first came out they touted very long drain and change intervals. I put Mobil 1 in my lawn tractor figuring it would last years since it was a horrible and messy process to drain the oil from this particular beast. Well the motor seize up after about 2 years, so I learned then synthetic oils are great but they don’t last forever.

We know this motor had oil in it but we don’t know the history of oil changes. Perhaps the oil was old and no longer lubricating, could result in a seized motor.

The oil pump could have failed, no circulation of the oil and therefore seized motor.

The motor could be sludged up internally so that critical parts aren’t getting oil. No lubrication to these parts can result in a seized motor. Sludge can come from poor quality oils, not changing the oil frequently enough, and bad design (as in Toyota cars of a certain era).

About the only cause of a seized motor that would be covered by any warranty in a car this age would be a failed oil pump. Even that is out of warranty substantially so I doubt any dealer or mfg’r would cover the motor. In addition driving with the “oil light” shining is asking for a seized motor. The light is there as a warning and every owner’s manual will state to shut off the motor immediately and get a tow if the oil light come on.

Therefore, this is a very bad break for the OP, but the costs of this repair is on him or her.

Weeellll…not exactly true Chaissos…about instant damage…but DAMN, damn close… If and when you see that light it is indicating low oil pressure… You actually have a little time…and I mean seconds not minutes AND NOT under heavy load… But for all intents and purposes…you should respond immediately to the oil light and think about it just like you do. Gear-heads respond to oil lights…even old timers (more of them will actually know about the oil light than most young bucks) I respond to the light…Most on this board do…and always will. The light indicated no oil pressure…so if there WAS pressure a moment ago…theres lubrication everywhere…enough for a few seconds of no load or very low load running and shutdown.

My oil light came on on my Accord with the H22 engine that I dropped in it… I had just rev’d HARD…to 8000Rpm… When I returned to normal speeds and driving…my oil light flickered on… I saw it …and shutdown. No probs… I restarted…OIL LIGHT ON…immediate shutdown…and again…shutdown…by me… my own hand… What happened? I snapped my Oil pump drive pulley…bec my oil was too thick and I put too much stress on the pump drive…see they drive the pump on that motor with a D shaped pawl inside a hollow “D” ring…I spread the ring open…with my too thick oil…and Uh the 8000 Rpm… it was too difficult to spin the pump so the drive to it broke… I successfully used the oil light…No damage at all. Because I gave the oil light the RESPECT it not only deserves but DEMANDS.

Now, I don’t think it will matter but what ever happened to Oil pressure gauges in the dash?..Boy I ALWAYS loved to see one of those… But they are seriously few and far between these days… BUT WHO…besides us gearheads…would look at the damn thing? THATS the issue. People need their hand FORCED… They complain when you force it…they Bitch when you dont…

I don’t see a way to Edu-mu-cate the masses about this…