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Jeep Liberty: Steering Stability and Suspension



  • I have an 02 renegade with 82k miles and just got the ball joint recall done. They didn't mention any problem with the upper bushings. Mine has many hard mile on it, and if there would be a common problem I would be surprised not to have it, so I would advise to complain more to your serviceman about it being too early for Bushing replacement.
  • siberiasiberia Posts: 520
    You should be skeptical about needing upper control arms and bushings. There is a serious design flaw in the lower ball joints but the upper control arms and ball joints are designed okay.

    It's quite a cost savings for DC if they can nail you for $700 of unnecessary repairs while changing the lower ball joints. DC should not be able to profit from the lower ball joint design mistake.
  • I have a 02’ Jeep Liberty with 38,000 miles. I am getting a clunking sound in the front end when I go over any bump, and if I go over a slight hump in the road and the suspension stretches (front end goes up) I hear an almost metal on metal sound kind of a screeching sound. I bought the new front sway bar bushings, but that wasn’t it . I see you had the upper control arm bushing problem. Can you tell me if your was making similar sounds?


  • Well, it's even better than I was told. They replaced: lower ball joints (2nd recall) both upper control arms (bushings & control arms are one unit). Then, when they put it back together & but it on the ground, they told me the ball joints made a popping sound. Took it back apart & replaced both steering knuckles, too! Unbelievable! Without extended warranty, this would have been well over a $1,000 repair! Less than 40K miles at that! I paid for a front end alignment (which I find illogical) and the $100 extended warranty deductible - so $180 total. But needless to say, I've certainly lost confidence in this vehicle.
  • Jim
    The car was making zero noises. Drove & steered fine. Reading some of these breaking ball joint stories really surprises me; I just did not realize the severity of the problem.

    Sounds like you'd better get to the dealer ASAP.
  • I see a few people talking about a (2nd recall) what is that about and how do I find out what recalls have been done on my Jeep. I ask because I bought this about 6 months ago. Thanks for the info.

  • siberiasiberia Posts: 520

    Bad upper control arm bushings can make exactly the sound that you describe and if they are bad this condition is not immediately dangerous as it can take quite a while to wear to destruction. Upper ball joints and control arm bushings generally last a long time in this suspension configuration because the don't carry near as much load as the lower ball joints.

    You need to inspect your lower ball joints ASAP because if they the cause of this noise you might not have much time before one or both if them pop and your Jeep drops to the ground. This is easy to do yourself but I don't have time to write the instructions.

    Maximum allowable axial play is 1.5mm or about 1/16 inch.

    And one other thing, if your upper bushing are gone and you have metal to metal contact the top of your tires should be leaning very noticeable inward. Stand far enough behind or in front of the vehicle to observe front and rear tires and compare vertical alignment. The top of the front tires should appear slightly out compared to the rear not in.

    Stay safe.
  • Jim,
    Your dealer can tell you exactly what's been done to your car. They will run the VIN (vehicle identification number) through their (Chrysler's) computer system. Would take them a matter of minutes to do.

  • Everyone, thanks for being so helpful. I called the dealer last night and the (2nd recall) has not been done on my Jeep. They are on national back order right now, so I wont be able to get it in till Monday or Tuesday. The service manager told me he would also check on the upper control arm bushings while I had it up there,,, free of charge. Thanks again all.
  • One more question. Jeep Liberty, 02’ 38k… when I come to a stop. 80% of the time it wants to fall on its face (stall) anyone else experience this?
  • My 2004 Jeep liberty (45K miles) just started to act up today. I warmed up my car for about 2 minutes and backed out of my parking spot while turning the wheel when I heard a loud blunt noise coming from the rear axle area. This loud noise only happened when backing out and turning the wheel at the same time, this didnt happen when backing out straight. The sound is like something snapping or something getting hit with blunt force, kind of like a football hitting the side of a car.

    I also have a problem when driving foward and turning the wheel all the way to the left/right to make a turn. The car struggles to turn, as if the front wheels pivoting makes it diffucult for the car to move. The car almost stutter struggles (not an engine stutter) to make the turn when turning the wheel.

    I thought this may be a lower ball joint problem, but the lower ball joint problem should not be applicable to the rear wheels of the car, but then again, the noise/stuttering only happens when I turn my steering wheel. Any hints?

    I've tried to be specific as possible. Anyone out there have any ideas of what the problem is? Please help me.

    I'm planning on going on a 13 hour road trip, but I might have to save that plan for later.
  • Does the car have a limited slip differential? And has the rear axle lube been changed? - usually recommended at 30K service intervals.
  • My Jeep Liberty Diesel '05, smells like the back passenger tire is on fire, its not actually on fire, but smells like it could be. Can see smoke coming from it? The brakes are squeaky too. I live in Montana, lots of snow here, neighbor says take it to straight stretch of road, run it forward @ bout 20mph, then do the same thing but go backwards. He claims its something to do with snow packed up in the break area up front?? Sounds bogus to me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    I wouldn't mess around with theories. Have the back end jacked up and the tires spun to see if the brakes are binding back there for some reason.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • bartolobartolo Posts: 1
    I have an 04 sport with 36000 miles. lately I,ve Notices the same sounds you described. Every time I take a slight pump, I hear a screeching from the front end, like the sound of and old spring mattress. The lower ball lower ball joint seem to be find, However the upper control arm bushings are beyond my limited mechanical know-how. Would like to know if you ever got the problem fixed,and if so can you point me in the right direction. Would appreciate any insight on the matter. I,d like to be better informed before going to the shop.
  • nygrlnygrl Posts: 1
    Hi - I'm hoping someone here might be able to help me. I have a Jeep Liberty Renegade 2002. 92k+ miles.

    Over the last couple of days, I've notice some knocking noises and the "creaky spring" sounds described above.The lower ball joint was replaced under the recall in Feb '07.

    Took the Jeep in to the dealer today. They heard the knocking too, and put it up on the lift, looked it over, but could find "no noticeable cause" for the knocking/squeaking noise. They tightened everything up, lowered it down, drove it around, but still heard the knocking.

    A few hours later, the dealer called and said they discovered that the problem is the "lower control arm" and some bushings. "Actually, all of your control arms could stand to be replaced," he said. "The cost to replace this one alone will be $618, not counting tax."

    I just want to know if this sounds right. The dealer charge of $420 for the part seems kind of steep for only one lower control arm (not both sides) compared to what the part is going for online. Plus, the ones I've seen online include the ball joint, but I don't need the ball joint!

    One mechanic in town said it's very rare to have to replace the control arm. Do you think I could talk to my dealer about the possibility of just replacing the bushings? Or is it better to bite the bullet and do the whole thing. I need to make a decision in the a.m.! : )

  • caribou1caribou1 Posts: 1,354
    If your vehicle was involved in a crash or extremely rough riding, then it could be safer to change a lower control arm. In normal use you need to change what you call the "bushings" and check the alignment of your front wheels. Whatever you decide, don't forget to have the alignment checked.
    According to your description I would also look at the silent blocks of the stabilizing bar. By lifting the truck from underneath the cabin (using a lift with 4 pads) and removing the front wheels, you can easily see what's wrong. It's trivial in this case.
    Good luck :blush:
  • I have a 2008 Jeep Liberty w/ Command-Trac 4x4 & Goodyear Fortera HL P235/60R18 tires. By 2300 miles I had very noticeable tire chop/stair stepping on the outside & inside tread of both front tires, worse on the outside. They said the alignment was out of spec, fixed it and replaced the front tires. Took it back in at 4500 miles for the same reason, this time they say the alignment is perfect & that it's because the tread is soft with no support between the spacing, and that it's normal for these tires and to rotate every 3000 miles. The rear tires are wearing perfectly smooth/even all over, so I'm confused about their expanation. Does anyone have any thoughts about whether this is normal/acceptable or if there is a possible underlying reason for the tires to wear like this at such low mileage? Thanks, Joe
  • I just had to have my Liberty 05 diesel's steering gear replaced. The dealer said that quite a few Liberties were showing up with this same problem this past year. Anyone know about this? Is this something dangerous to Liberty owners? I'm wondering just how wide-spread this situation could be with Liberty's.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    No record of recalls on TSB on the steering. There was a factory recall on lower ball joints, which is definitely a safety issue.

    September 2006
    Dealer Service Instructions for:
    Safety Recall No. F23 -- Lower Ball Joints

    Effective immediately, this recall (Safety Recall F23) cancels and supersedes Safety Recall C36 Lower Ball Joints. Please remove and discard from your files all copies of Safety Recall C36 (dated December 2003). All vehicles involved in Recall C36, whether completed or not, must have this recall performed.

    2002-2006 (KJ) Jeep(R) Liberty
    NOTE: This recall applies only to the above vehicles built through March 15, 2006 (MDH 031510).

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • Hey joe...
    I know it's been two years since you originally posted this, but I recently purchased a 2002 Jeep Liberty and I am experiencing this exact same problem. I was wondering if you ever happened to figure out what was wrong? I'd really appreciate any help.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Ordered a set of bilstein shocks for my 03 Liberty. Anyone done that swap yet? Got a great deal on the shocks ---$237 for all 4 -- free shipping. Will cost $170 to install and a wheel alignment for $60. Will post after I have them to see if I wasted my money or if the results are dramatic.
  • caribou1caribou1 Posts: 1,354
    Hi jayrider,
    How many miles do you have on the Jeep now?
    Mechanically speaking, mine is still like new after 90,000 miles. It has a few dents but not much play in the transmission. Rear brakes are still perfect and moan when the temperature is cool and damp. I don't need wheel alignment yet, but why is it offered to you?
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Only have 25k miles on my Ltd. Just looking to upgrade the handling/ride a bit. The strut replacements on the front make alignment a good idea. No problems with my liberty either. Ride is a bit jittery/choppy so i'm giving the bilsteins a try. Some say the improvement is dramatic and some say they don't make much difference. I figure I've got 14 more years to reach 90,000 miles -- just looking for a change.
  • caribou1caribou1 Posts: 1,354
    Before you change your shock absorbers, you can have the present ones evaluated. Worn shocks tend to elongate, so the vehicle shows more clearance between the wheel pit and the top of the tire. Tire wear is also a good indicator.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Good advice caribou1, but I'm replacing the shocks regardless of whether they are worn or not. I'm upgrading from the original shocks to a premium set to upgrade the ride and handling. As I said, don't know if I'm wasting my money or not but the shocks are on their way from the retailer. I'll let you know if they really make a difference.
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    The improvement in ride is absolutely dramatic. The jiggling, jouncy ride has been replaced by a much smoother controlled feeling. I was afraid they would make the ride stiffer but it is a beautiful balance between firmness and comfort. The car corners and cruises like a different vehicle. To be honest, i didn't expect a lot because my truck only has 25k miles and the shocks should be like new. Either those old pogos were shot or they were poorly designed in the first place.
    If anyone is interested the part numbers are BE5-D916-HO and BE5-D917. Bilstein is running a buy three-get the fourth one free this month. $250 free shipping which is cheaper than most OEM replacements. Caribou 1-- if you plan on keeping your jeep for a while --get a set and enjoy!!
    PS --I don't own any stoc in bilstein. Actually I don't own any stock at all. Lucky me.
  • caribou1caribou1 Posts: 1,354
    I have to bring the Jeep for technical inspection this summer; if I need to change the shocks, I will follow your advice.
    I think you are driving on a different type of pavement and you may not have BFG T/A tires. So far, this is the best vehicle I've had in 40 years. It has a weakness in the way the ball joints were mounted on the front suspension and I know one day I may dive into the pavement if I don't keep an eye on these things :cry:
  • jayriderjayrider Posts: 3,602
    Just because your shocks are technically ok doesn't mean you won't benefit from a set of bilsteins on / off road. Trust me, if you can afford the change, you won't be sorry. My wife was also surprised at the ride improvement -- the jeep suspension is now more euro import than american truck. I test drove some new vw's and it has similar characteristics. I'd like to compare it to a bmw X3 or mercedes ml 350 just for fun. I have a set of firestone destination LE's on the jeep -- just changed out the original set because they offered very poor traction. I'm very happy with that choice as well. If you have time, I'd be curious what the cost of the shocks are in Europe where they are manufactured.
  • caribou1caribou1 Posts: 1,354
    The following link indicates 157 Euros per unit (Vendu a la piece), not one pair. - _fr&num=830

    This is another absurdity of the EU market. No we can't :sick:
This discussion has been closed.