Engine replacement cost for a 2004 Jeep Liberty?
September 28, 2011 12:27 PM   Subscribe

What's a reasonable price for having the engine of a 2004 Jeep Liberty replaced in Northern New Jersey?

Alas, our Jeep's engine is kaput -- after some 100,000 miles of leal service, it looks like our camshaft broke loose and blasted a hole through the valve cover. The Jeep, a 6-cylinder 2004 Liberty, is in fairly decent shape (besides the dead engine). Our mechanic said that he could get us an engine with on the order of 60,000 miles on it installed for a total of $4000. I really have no basis for comparison on this sort of job, and can't afford to tow the Jeep to multiple mechanics to get competing bids.

So, as I've seen some truly arcane questions answered here: is $4000 simply what this sort of job (that is, this model car, in this area of the country) would cost?
posted by thudthwacker to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
That doesn't sound unreasonable. Did he give you a breakdown as to how much of that is the cost of the engine and how much is labor? Engines are expensive and it takes a lot of work to take one out and put another one in.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:33 PM on September 28, 2011

I just asked my brother how much he paid to have the engine replaced in his 93 Toyota pickup. He paid $2200 for the whole job, and it is an older (probably cheaper) 4 cylinder engine (and I can only assume a 6 cylinder or bigger engine will be more expensive). Also, older cars tend to be easier to work on than newer ones, so I Wouldn't be surprised if the labor is less on the older car, too. He also put a used engine in his truck, obviously a new engine would cost more.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:42 PM on September 28, 2011

That may be a reasonable price, but used engines are not necessarily expensive, nor are they necessarily hard to remove and install. It varies greatly depending on the vehicle. I don't know enough about Jeeps to speak specifically about them, but it would be worth seeking out a Jeep forum (there are a ton) and asking there. The answers may surprise you.

Also, keep in mind that in the wake of Katrina and other recent large scale floods there are a lot of "bad" donor vehicle parts out there, especially complete used motors. It's one thing if you are buying a motor from a local vehicle that was known to be running well before it was wrecked (and hopefully only rear-ended or rolled!), it's another thing to buy a complete used engine from an unknown third party with no prior history available. It can be a real crapshoot.

If you do go this route and can't verify the source of the used motor, make sure you are confident that your mechanic is trustworthy and will stand behind the motor as well as the installation, and get that in writing. Alternatively, spend the extra money and get a freshly rebuilt motor instead of a used motor.

@ tylerkaraszewski: A used 22RE (which was the motor in your brother's '93 Toyota pickup) is one of the most common, popular motors made in the last 25 years. It's also in one of the easiest motors to swap and work on. He also got a pretty good price on that. Unfortunately, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison for a 2005 Jeep.
posted by mosk at 12:52 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd first do some research and see if this was a freak event, or if those Jeep sixes are prone to such catastrophic failure at such low mileage (Yes, 100k is low.) If that particular engine has a reputation for early failure like that, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable using an identical engine with 60k on it.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:16 PM on September 28, 2011

That sounds reasonable to me. Most engine swaps I've read about take quite a long time. There's a lot of fiddly bits, so to speak. Engines can be had fairly cheaply if you're lucky, but the labor is going to be harder to get cheaper. And you probably don't want to, unless you happen to already know a guy with experience with that engine.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:33 PM on September 28, 2011

Seconding checking Jeep forums just to get much more info than you'll get here. Jeep people blow up, replace and rebuild engines all the time. They know where to get rebuilds for cheap etc.

I think $4k is pretty fair. That's a V6 and not the easiest thing to replace. The replacement engine is most likely coming from a totaled Jeep. You should ask for a limited warranty, just a couple of weeks to make sure that the engine is working properly and not leaking.
posted by snsranch at 5:43 PM on September 28, 2011

I recently had to look into getting a new engine for my 2003 Mercury Sable. The engine bay is fairly large and I've no problem doing my own maintenance on it in the past, but it was about $3,000 to $5,000 depending on if I wanted a new engine or a used engine. Both of these replacements were more expensive than what the car was worth. I was able to get a trade in value higher than what it was worth and it made it easier to trade in and get a new car with the value.

That said $4,000 is fair for a full engine trade out for this type of car, but since the car has over 100,000 miles on it, how much longer will it be until another $1,000 repair is needed. It might make sense haggling and getting a good value on the car and getting another new or used one, whichever you prefer.
posted by Nackt at 7:56 PM on September 28, 2011

P.S. I am based in Parsippany, if that helps.
posted by Nackt at 7:56 PM on September 28, 2011

Response by poster: I was able to get a trade in value higher than what it was worth and it made it easier to trade in and get a new car with the value.

Was your Sable running when you traded it in? If my Jeep has any kind of trade-in value in its current condition, that would go a long way towards helping me and my wife decide to start serious new-car research.
posted by thudthwacker at 10:39 AM on September 29, 2011

thudthwacker, I don't think anyone is going to take a non running car as a trade in. If you had the time and patience you could part it out and actually make some money, but that can be a very frustrating endeavor.

A "like new" rebuild is just over $2k with free shipping...takes many days to ship though. I don't know if you have that kind of time.

I can't imagine the r&r (remove and replace) should be much more than $1500.

Also, and forgive me I'm not trying to be a know it all dick, the description of the engine failure leaves me feeling skeptical. That engine has an SOHC, single overhead cam. It and one of the valve covers could only ever meet in the case of a massive fiery crash. My guess is that your engine may have sucked or burned a valve which would require a head replacement. Just a total random guess though.

In any case I hope this info gives you some bargaining chips for speaking with your mechanic.

Good luck! (and as a mechanic I'd love to hear the outcome!)
posted by snsranch at 5:31 PM on September 29, 2011

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