FCA Pentastar 3.6L Engine Problems And Reliability

Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler 3.6L Pentastar Engine

The FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) 3.6L Pentastar engine powers a variety of Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler models from 2011 to the present. There is a reason for this 3.6L V6’s longevity. The performance is excellent for a 275-305 horsepower NA V6 engine.

Additionally, the Pentastar 3.6L engine is a reliable and efficient performer. However, all engines, including the Pentastar, are prone to failure. This article discusses the reliability of the FCA 3.6L Pentastar engine, as well as a few common issues.

Pentastar 3.6L Common Problems

  • Cylinder head (2011-2013)
  • Rocker arms
  • Cooling system
  • Oil pump

Each of these issues is discussed in detail below. This is an excellent opportunity to add a few quick notes. Simply because these failures are classified as common does not mean that every Pentastar engine will experience them.

Additionally, engines are prone to a variety of problems – particularly as they age and accumulate mileage. 3.6L Pentastar engines may develop problems that we do not discuss in this article.

Finally, the Pentastar is used in dozens of different models, each of which serves a unique purpose. These include Ram 1500 pickup trucks, off-road Jeeps, and performance models such as the Challenger, Charger, and C300.

Certain failures may be more or less prevalent on different models, depending on the vehicle’s intended use. Prior to delving into the most common 3.6 Pentastar engine problems, the following is a list of all vehicles equipped with the engine.

What Cars Use the 3.6L Pentastar?

Cars Use the 3.6L Pentastar

The 3.6 V6 Pentastar engine is found in the following Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram vehicles:

Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar

  • 2011-2017 Chrysler 200
  • 2011-present Chysler 300
  • 2016-present Chrysler Pacifica
  • 2011-2016 Chrysler Town & Country
  • 2020-present Chrysler Voyager

Dodge 3.6L Pentastar

  • 2011-2014 Dodge Avenger
  • 2011-present Dodge Challenger
  • 2011-present Dodge Charger
  • 2011-present Dodge Durango
  • 2011-2020 Dodge Grand Caravan
  • 2011-2019 Dodge Journey

Jeep 3.6 Pentastar Engine

  • 2011-present Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • 2012-2018 Jeep Wrangler

Ram Pentastar 3.6L V6

  • 2012-present Ram 1500
  • 2013-present Ram ProMaster
  • 2011-2015 Ram Cargo Van

1) FCA Pentastar Cylinder Head Failure

FCA Pentastar Cylinder Head Failure

This is a good place to start, as it is primarily a problem with early 2011-2013 Pentastar engines. Certain early 3.6L V6s experienced left bank cylinder head failures. The root cause is excessive heat generated by the valve seats on cylinder #2. In mid-2013, Fiat-Chrysler resolved the issue with hardened valve guides and seats.

Additionally, they made every effort to make things right for customers. FCA extended the warranty on the 3.6L Pentastar’s left cylinder heads to ten years or 150,000 miles on 2011, 2012, and some 2013 models.

The Jeep Wrangler appears to have been the most susceptible to 3.6L Pentastar cylinder head problems. However, the issue impacted a wide variety of models. The good news is that the extended warranty on the majority of FCA Pentastar engines should still be valid. That, or the issues were already resolved.

Pentastar Cylinder Head Problems Symptoms

Cylinder head failure symptoms on the 3.6L Pentastar include the following:

  • Check engine light
  • Misfires
  • Engine ticking
  • Power loss

Often, the most noticeable symptoms are ticking and check engine lights. However, if the issue is not addressed, the cylinder will eventually lose compression. This results in symptoms such as misfires and power loss.

Cylinder head replacement is not inexpensive for the 3.6L Pentastar. Again, the majority of early vehicles should be covered by the warranty extension.

If the cylinder head is not covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, replacement can cost thousands of dollars. Additionally, it’s critical to remember that cylinder head failure can occur in any year. However, this is not a common occurrence on more recent engines.

2) 3.6L Pentastar Rocker Arm Problems

3.6L Pentastar Rocker Arm Problems

Occasionally, this issue is confused with the preceding. Given that the rocker arms are located within the cylinder head, this makes sense. However, not all Pentastar rocker arm issues are the same. Cam followers are another term for rocker arms.

FCA issued a service bulletin addressing this issue, which we have reproduced below. The complete service bulletin is available here. There is a superseding section as of the 2014 bulletin. Certain newer Pentastar 3.6L engines, on the other hand, exhibit the same faults.

As such, it appears as though the updated section is not a perfect fix.

Although a service bulletin is available, we are unaware of any extended warranty period for rocker arm issues. As a result, if your factory warranty has expired, you will be responsible for any repairs.

However, because this is a well-known issue, you may be able to negotiate a discount with FCA. Failures of the rocker arm are unlikely to be as common as the internet suggests. At the same time, it’s a critical subject because rocker arms are one of the more costly 3.6 Pentastar issues.

FCA 3.6L Rocker Arm Failure Symptoms

The following are some of the more common symptoms of Pentastar rocker arm problems:

  • Engine ticking
  • Diagnostic trouble code (DTC)
  • Misfires

A ticking sound emanating from the upper engine area is the most common symptom of rocker arm failure. Additionally, you may receive fault codes, also known as DTC’s. Typically, the codes indicate a cylinder misfire.

3.6 Pentastar Rocker Arm Replacement

Interestingly, some reports indicate that dealerships have replaced the entire cylinder head due to this issue. This job does not require the cylinder head to be removed. Cam follower replacement, on the other hand, is not inexpensive. It’s a fairly time-consuming process, as the valve covers must be removed.

This repair should be left to experienced mechanics or do-it-yourselfers. Fortunately, the components are reasonably priced. The majority of the Pentastar rocker arm repair costs are labor-related. Expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for this job. While you’re in there, it may be prudent to replace all of the rocker arms.

3) FCA Pentastar 3.6L Cooling System Issues

FCA Pentastar 3.6L Cooling System Issues

The Pentastar water pump and radiator are the primary focus of this article. Rather than writing identical information about both issues, we’re grouping them together. Additionally, other components such as the heater core and oil cooler may fail. The V6 Pentastar is manufactured by FCA using sand-casting techniques.

Naturally, some sand deposits remain that must be properly cleaned prior to installing the cylinder head. However, it appears as though sand deposits occasionally remain in the engine following production.

Sand accumulates in the cooling system over time, causing sludge and deposits throughout the system. This ultimately results in Pentastar failures such as the water pump, radiator, heater core, and oil cooler.

As is the case with the majority of things, the issues are unlikely to be as widespread as the internet suggests. However, it is common to find forum members who have gone through these same repairs multiple times.

Cooling system issues can also occur independently of the aforementioned sand causes. Numerous components of the Pentastar 3.6L cooling system are wear and tear items. Natural wear-and-tear faults are not uncommon north of 100,000 miles.

Fiat-Chrysler 3.6L Cooling System Failure Symptoms

Keep an eye out for the following signs of a Pentastar cooling system malfunction:

  • Overheating engine
  • Heat or A/C problems
  • Visible coolant leak
  • Fault codes or check engine light

Overheating is almost always an indication that something is wrong with the cooling system. A faulty Pentastar 3.6L water pump or radiator will obstruct proper coolant flow throughout the engine. Additionally, you may notice that your heating or cooling system is failing to maintain the desired temperature.

While some failures do not result in coolant loss, the majority do result in a visible leak or rapid coolant loss. Finally, depending on the nature of the cooling problem, you may receive fault codes and a check engine light.

Pentastar 3.6L Cooling System Fix

We’ll keep this brief because this section is broad and not focused on a single point. The majority of cooling system problems are not prohibitively expensive or difficult to resolve on your own. Depending on the nature of the issue, you may end up spending between $200 and $800 at a repair shop.

However, with the sand issues mentioned previously, there is a possibility that you will need to replace multiple components. This is the point at which costs may begin to accumulate.

4) 3.6L FCA Pentastar Oil Pump Failure

3.6L FCA Pentastar Oil Pump Failure

This section will be brief. This is probably the least frequent Pentastar issue discussed in this post. It may not even be worth noting. Oil pump failures, on the other hand, are a serious issue because they can result in a lack of oil flow. The ECU should detect a loss of oil flow quickly and attempt to prevent further damage.

It appears as though the 3.6L oil pump failures are not complete, but rather result in a drop in oil pressure. That’s good news, as the computer should limit the revs and power quickly. As long as the engine’s oil is flowing freely and the engine is not overheated, no further damage should occur.

Numerous oil pump failures may be traced back to the same reason cooling system components fail. Both oil and coolant pass through the cylinder head of the Pentastar. If there are any remaining sand deposits, they may be picked up and become trapped in the oil pump over time.

Is the Pentastar 3.6L Engine Reliable?

Yes, in a nutshell. The FCA 3.6L Pentastar engine is a dependable performer. We’ll give the Pentastar an above-average reliability rating. Again, there is a reason this engine powers so many of Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram’s flagship vehicles; the same reason it has been around for a decade. The FCA 3.6L engine is dependable and efficient while maintaining a high level of performance.

Having said that, it’s not difficult to continue Googling the 3.6L Pentastar engine and come across numerous owners who are having issues. As far as we are aware, over ten million Pentastar engines have been produced.

That is a sizable number of engines. All engines are susceptible to failure, even more so with that level of production. Errors occur. No machine or human being is perfect. Occasionally, reliability is determined solely by chance.

Fortunately, it appears that the vast majority of Pentastar V6 owners have nothing but positive things to say about the engine. Maintenance is one of the things we can control.

Maintain your FCA 3.6L engine properly, and it’s likely that it’ll be an excellent engine that you’ll enjoy trouble-free for years. There are even a few instances where the Pentastar has been reported to hold up to 500,000 miles. How’s that for endurance?

3.6L Pentastar Common Problems Summary

It’s always frightening to read about common problems. At the very least, it is for us; we suddenly begin to think and assume the worst. That is the furthest thing from our intention when writing about common engine problems, and this is especially true for the 3.6L Pentastar. Overall, it is a very reliable engine. Performance that is dependable, efficient, smooth, and solid. There is little to criticize, but no engine is perfect.

Certain early examples of the 3.6L Pentastar encountered cylinder head problems as a result of overheating valve seats on the #2 cylinder. Several other well-documented issues include rocker arms, cooling system components, and oil pumps.

However, we believe they are well documented, owing to the more than ten million Pentastar engines produced. The 3.6L FCA Pentastar is an excellent, dependable engine.

While no engine is perfect, there is a reason for the high number of Pentastars on the market. That reason, we believe, is that it is quite good at what it does.

What are your thoughts on the 3.6L Pentastar? Leave a comment and inform us!

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