Turbodiesel Fail

This serves as an update to my Jeep Cherokee post in which I wrote about wanting the turbo charged beauty. The price of the Jeep I had shown went down by $1,500 dollars which put a smile on my face and made me look further into buying it. However one simple question on a Jeep forum ruined everything for me; “What do you guys think about this 2000 Jeep with a 2.5l turbo diesel engine?”

The answer across the board was a resounding “stay the hell away from that engine”.

VM Motori was founded by two Italian entrepreneurs Vancini and Martelli in 1947, hence the abbreviation. The factory is located in the heartland of Italian motor sport to the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati. In 1995 VM Motori was bought by Detroit Diesel Corporation which later sold it to Daimler Chrysler in 2000. Eventually through a series of further acquisitions it is now owned by Fiat.

All this as a side note to the fact that my beloved Cherokee has a 2.5 liter VM diesel engineered and crafted in Italy. This wouldn’t be bad at all except that it’s considered one of the worst engines ever designed in Italy, second only to a 1.7 liter diesel failure of an engine designed earlier by Fiat. 

Over-engineered is the phrase most people used trying not to be vulgar on a public forum. Specific “2.5 VM” engine forums have been created just to deal with the amount of issues people have with it. With all of 118hp it is also considered way underpowered for the Cherokee. One of the design flaws makes it extremely vulnerable to overheating, and once it gets hot it causes parts to first malfunction inside the block, then broken pieces get dropped into the oil pan only to get sucked back into circulation causing yet more damage. It’s a nightmare, one that ended my pursuit of this Jeep. This engine is also used in various other models; the European Voyager for instance, as well as an Opel Frontera and a couple of Alfa Romeo models to name just a few.

But I did manage to stir up some interesting conversations among Jeep owners on the forum, a couple have contacted me directly saying they have a Cherokee with the said engine and wrote that as long as I get it from a reliable source and take good care of it there shouldn’t be trouble at all.

So lo and behold today I test drove a 2.5 turbo diesel Cherokee. While the engine behaved normally, I guess, it was really the rest of the car that I wasn’t all that impressed with. Granted the model I test drove needed some tender love and care, but the whole driving experience felt as if buying it would mean moving backwards in my car ownership, even from the current ’91 BMW. It shook everywhere, felt like driving a tank, it was too stiff and yet leaned too softly on corners, it wasn’t what I had imagined at all.

With this I have abandoned all further Jeep Cherokee talks, dreams, and searches. I will leave you with one final video that I have found on a Polish Jeep forum. This would be a lot of fun except that all Cherokees in this video are the 6 cylinder 4.0 liter type with a liquefied petroleum gas LPG fuel delivery system installed to reduce the pain at the gas station. No one uses the unreliable VM diesel for offroading.

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