I think I know why you had so many problems.
It might be all your fault.
I'm not sure, but is the jeep's 4x4 system part time or full time 4wd?
If you kept it in 4x4 all the time even though it was a "part timer", then you could have done heavy damage to the front differential, transfer case, and front wheel components. There fore causeing your steering and maybe your braking mishaps.
Having bad traction on leaves is not the fault of the 4x4 system, but that of the tires.
Again, I don't know about the liberty enough to know if it is full time or part time 4x4, but if you drove it like I said above, then you caused the problem. (not electrical of course)
Well, it's true.. we did keep it in 4-WD all the time, but we were told by the Jeep salesman when we purchased it that it was fine to do and in fact he recommended we do so. The rare times when we took it out of 4-WD we noticed such a difference (for the worse) that we immediately put it back into 4-WD. When we brought it in for those problems they never asked us any questions about keeping it in 4-WD all the time. Anyway, it's over now, but I found your comment interesting.
I'm the person that brought up the 4wd system:
I found this, I guess you jeep could be either a part time or full time. I'm not sure of the model, but I found this site and this quote, you could probably pinpoint your model if you read it.
"Part time four wheel drive is handled via Command Trac ® and full time four wheel drive goes through the optional NV242 Selec Trac®. The 45RFE five speed automatic transmission is available only on the Limited Edition model - if you can buy it, we recommend it over the four-speed."
I seriously doubt a manufacturer would make a full time 4wd system that could be switched to 2wd for any reason, seeing as it is an integral part of the vehicle and all. Like Subaru's, AWD isn't selectable...
So I tend to think that you have a part time system that just got burned out from being engaged all the time, and wore out some components, which in turn wore something else out, and so on. I now think that sales rep was wrong...
But the only other thing that is puzzling is that you say it handles horribly in 2wd. I don't see how it's possible (unless it's the full time 4wd and I'm wrong LOL) to have it handle that much worse. 4wd only provides power to the road from a different set of tires, it really doesn't affect grip that much, unless of course the rear end slides, but...
There are many SUVs out there that are simple solid axle 2wd designs that I haven't heard of having problems. They use almost the same design as you. Slipping can be chalked up to bad tires and/or overdriving a SUV. I know, I tend to think I'm driving a bit sportier car when I am in my F150, which thankfully reminds me it is not (a sports car) when the rear end breaks loose and tires squeal in tight, high speed turns...
I agree with a previous poster that the 4X4 system of any vehicle is really only as good as the tires on the vehicle.
You need to know if your Liberty has part-time or full-time four wheel drive. I think some of the Liberty packages would offer both, but the base model Liberty probably only has part-time four wheel drive. If you only have a part-time four wheel drive system, and you left this engaged constantly, you would most likely destroy the system. Part time four wheel drive is only meant for wet or snow covered roads, or off road use. You would notice difficulty when making turns on dry roads if this was the case. A full time system acts similar to all wheel drive, and only engages when the vehicle needs additional traction. I am not sure if use of a full time system would be destroyed if used constantly. Hopefully someone else will post that knows.
Hi again, the original reviewer here.
First of all, I am not a car-person so if I'm not using the right terminology or am confusing matters, sorry. But what I know is it was the Liberty Limited edition which did have the option of part-time 4WD which to me meant when it was engaged it was in 4WD mode and when it wasn't, it was 2WD. Again, we always kept in it in the full-time mode, per the sales rep's recommendation. When gas prices went up I thought about taking it out to perhaps help increase the mileage, but again, the handling in 2WD was so much more noticeable that we left it in 4WD. There have been lots of comments about the tires and I'll admit they weren't great (at the trade-in, they said they would have to replace them), but the car was less than 3 yrs old when all these problems started so I don't know if the poor performance can be attributed to just the tires.
In response to your poor handling problems in wet weather. I purchased a 2003 Jeep Liberty new and from the beginning I was also disappointed in the way it handled in the rain while in 2 wheel drive. Even driving in a little rain felt dangerous and scary. There was a total lack of control. I switched the original Goodyear Wrangler tires for Firestone Destination LE tires and I could not believe the difference in the way it handled. It was incredible. I did some research on the web and apparenty numerous other Liberty owners have experienced the same problem with the factory Goodyear tires. I hope this helps.
2002 Jeep Liberty Limited; Loaded LOADED with the optional Mercedes Engine; extra heavy tow pkg and more; purchased used.
Electrical problems... interior lights go on when using blinker or even go on at random.
Handles poorly in rain or snow and on painted lines, very scary.
We have a 2002 Liberty Sport with over 80000 miles and have only ever done routine maintenace, with the exception of replacing the A/C clutch, which I did myself.
The handling of the Liberty is very typical for a short wheelbase, rear wheel drive vehicle, but the Goodyear tires were terrible. After that it is simply your experience, competence level and road conditions that determine the handling, ours handles fine.
As for driving in 4WD all the time... well that one is a mystery to anyone who has driven 4WD vehicles extensively.
The gas mileage on the Liberty is far worse than I could have ever imagined for such a small vehicle.
I've had my 2002 Liberty Ltd since 2005, and have never had any issues. Although I only drive up north for vacations infrequently, I use it for everything else. My mileage is between 18 and 20... I've only got 82k on it. Replaced tires last year with same Goodyear Wrangler... snow and ice, rain whatever, this vehicle handles fantastic. I've never had any issues whatsoever as described here. I'd recommend this vehicle to anyone looking for a great value, as well as just a great looking and feeling SUV to drive all year.
I have loved my Liberty. I have a 2002 Limited. No 4WD.
I live in NC so I wasn't seriously worried about weather. It slips in the rain on painted lines and I have had to revamp my driving style. When I turn left, I'm fine. When I turn right, the rear wheel slips and in the rain. It's resulted in me just driving a tad differently than before.
If it snows, which is rare here, I don't drive it. Simple. It has turned out to be the most reliable car I have ever had. Including a Corolla and a Camry. I've changed the tires once, had two batteries and little trouble with the right side speakers (a crimped speaker wire). That's it!
It now has 76K miles. It hasn't even needed brakes. It's a sturdy, heavy beast and it may look small but it weighs over two tons empty. Don't expect great gas mileage. Especially with that beefy V6 engine.
Best thing I ever did.
The interior light thing is easy. If the little ring on the blinker stem is close to engaging the interior lights, they flick on and off when signaling. Just turn the interior light control ring a smidge and it should stop.