Friday, March 20, 2009

Jeep: The Vehicle is the Journey

Currently, if you want to burn biodiesel and you want 4-wheel drive, you only have two choices: a full-size pickup truck or a Jeep. I sold the Ford F-250 in 2007 and bought a 2005 Jeep Liberty CRD (Common Rail Diesel). Diesels are known for their relatively high mileage, high torque, longevity and clatter. The famous diesel engines are Cummins, Cat, Detroit, Mercedes, etc. This CRD model, built only in 2005, 2006 has an Italian engine from VM Motori. I would say that the motor is pretty good, but Jeep's interfaces to it are problematic.

I don't say this for my case alone. I don't just have a lemon, a one-off, poorly built example of an otherwise fine product. No, I have a product where the quality was designed out. I know because the online forums are full of complaints, fixes and workarounds. Living in the country, I need a reliable vehicle; I didn't reaalize I'd have to build it myself. Here are the 3 big fixes:

The crankcase ventilation system (CCV) spews oil and sludge back into the engine, instead of just gasses, eventually fouling important components. After learning how to fix this,
I did my own write-up here.

Although wired for one, the CRD does not have a "lift pump" installed in the tank. The system relies on suction alone to get fuel to the injection system. This invariable leads to air in the system requiring frequent bleeds. My write-up on that fix here.

But worse, the fuel heater is at the high point of the fuel system. Air collects there and the heater, designed to be cooled by a bath of fuel, overheats and leaks. I was awaiting my lift pump when I inspected my heater and found fuel leaking from the electrical socket. This necessitated an emergency fuel head replacement with a RACOR unit. The fix for that here.

Because another work-around causes the check engine light to come on
I have now installed an engine diagnostic scanner on the dashboard.

A few months or so after completing all these fixes I was driving home late one night when the Jeep starts to buck and falter. A visual inspection and the scanner show nothing. But, it's so concerning that I stay overnight in Vernonia and have the car towed to the dealer the next morning rather than risk driving home.

The tow truck drivers rig is right out of Madd Max. Inteior panels are missing, bare wires stick out of the dash, and the cab is littered with all manner of detritus. But, the driver has a glowing blue, wireless headseat in his ear, GPS and satellite radio.

This failure would have been the last straw, but the dealer could find no trouble and in the end we concluded that it was a bad quarter tank of fuel I'd topped off with that evening.

Since then the Jeep runs like a top.


  1. My name is Tom Speer.
    I am a student at Illinois State University I
    have been researching renewable homes, and I am very interested in your home. if you could email me back that would be great. I am writing a
    report on some of your ideas for the model I make