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belvedere

Assessing Jeep KJ Liberty Front End Damage from an Accident

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My wife was recently involved in an accident. She was driving in the right lane at about 30mph, when another driver tried to make a right turn from the left lane, causing extensive damage to the front left part of my wife's '06 Liberty 4x4. The body shop owner called me today, saying they had completed the damage assessment. Here's what concerns me: they found the spindle bent. If the impact was hard enough to bend the spindle, what does that mean for the bearing assy, CV joints, rim & tire, etc? I would think there would be the potential for more problems, but welcome any thoughts or advice.

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Hi, belvedere!  Sorry to hear of your wife's accident with the Liberty.  Presumably your wife is okay, the Liberty is just a machine, that's the lesser concern!

 

As for safety, it does take considerable force to bend a "spindle". Actually, there is no "spindle" on a 4WD Liberty front end.  The axle half-shaft stub runs through the wheel hub unit bearing, supported by a steering knuckle.  A Liberty's suspension would absorb a good deal of force.  If great force, the steering knuckle and control arms can bend like you describe. 

 

My guess is that the damaged parts include the steering knuckle and the unit hub bearing or wheel flange assembly with wheel bolts/studs.  Most likely the wheel unit bearing is damaged from the type of shot the car took, especially if key impact was to the wheel/tire. 

 

If the steering knuckle is bent, I would encourage the shop to replace the upper and lower ball-joints that support the steering knuckle.  These were integral parts with the control arms from Mopar unless available separately now in the aftermarket.  If the ball-joint replacement includes the control arms, that would eliminate guesswork about bent control arms.

 

Here is the layout and parts listings for the pieces surrounding the damage:

 

Jeep KJ Liberty Front End Parts.pdf

 

Look over the parts schematics and discuss this with the shop.  Confirm which parts are bent.  If the hub unit bearing is damaged, check the drive shaft/half shaft and CV boots.  The half-driveshaft and CV joints could be okay if the shaft movement did not compress the shaft much.

 

The wheel and tire should be inspected carefully.  A tire can be belt separated by actual impact.  The wheel could reveal stress bending or cracking.  I would spin the wheel/tire assembly on a tire balancing machine and check for run-out. 

 

Let me know which parts are damaged, using the Mopar parts descriptions...We'll discuss this further.

 

Moses

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Thanks for the response, Moses.  You confirmed my thoughts, and I hadn't thought of the ball joints.  (Of course, you are correct: it's a knuckle, not a spindle!)  I will discuss this with the body shop owner.

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The shop owner assured me that they will thoroughly inspect all parts before they put it back together, and he will guarantee my satisfaction.  He has been good to work with in the past, so I am going to trust him on this.  I stopped by the shop today.  They have started, but are still waiting on a couple of parts and finishing other projects, so aren't too far into it yet.

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Belvedere...The primer piece across the engine is new?  Just overspray there?  That piece will cover a lot.

 

If the shop has a four-wheel frame and alignment rack, they should be able sort all of this out.  Most of the damage looks like "outer shell" areas, so the vehicle's tracking can be readily restored.  This is what these guys do day in and out, looks a lot worse to us than them!

 

Glad the Liberty is getting attention...Did the knuckle turn out to be the only suspension piece they'll replace, or do the control arms get renewed?

 

Moses

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Moses, I wish I could answer your question about the piece laying over the engine.  I had 5-year-old Belvedere Jr. with me, and he didn't like the sound of the DA that one of the workers was using nearby, so we quickly took the pic and left.  I barely even looked at anything other than to take the pic.

 

Previously, I had talked to the owner over the phone.  He said that when they take things apart to replace the knuckle, they'll carefully inspect everything else, so nothing has been decided for sure yet.  You are correct about the "outer shell" damage: he told me they had measured everything to check for structural damage, and it all checks out good.

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We've had the Libby back for about a month now.  The shop replaced the knuckle and rim and aligned it, and said everything else checked out.  Indeed, it does drive well.  If I didn't know, I'd be hard pressed to tell it had ever been damaged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ideal, Belvedere!  Glad the Liberty is safe and sound...You asked the right questions, which helped keep the shop focused...Yea!

 

Moses

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