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The FCA Pentastar 3.6L engine (from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) is notoriously very durable. Over the years the engine has been used inside of a wide variety of vehicles from various reputable car manufacturers. These include models from Jeep and Chrysler, as well as dodge and others.
As long as you stick to a good maintenance schedule, and carry out regular oil changes, including using the correct oil for this 3.6L engine, it should last for many years and miles of use. It also does a good job in terms of performance, putting out up to 305 horsepower. The fuel efficiency of this engine is another one of its major strong suits, however this is influenced by which engine oil you choose.
Despite its strong performance and durability no engine is going to come without the occasional issue. These issues aren’t always immediately obvious to the untrained eye. That’s why in this article we’re going over the most common issues that people experience with their 3.6 pentastar engine.
The 5 most common issues found with the 3.6 Pentastar
Below we’re going to take a close look at the 5 most common issues that can occur with the 3.6 Pentastar engine, these are:
- Oil Pump problems
- Water Pump and Cooling system issues
- Rocker Arm problems
- Cylinder head issues (mainly an issue in 2011 through to 2013 model engines)
- Premature Engine Wear/Lack of Maintenance
It is worth clarifying that although these problems are the most common ones that occur with this engine, it does not mean that they are common overall. The 3.6 pentastar engine has a well earned reputation of being very durable, but as noted previously issues do occur in any engine.
It’s also worth noting that because this engine is used in a variety of different vehicles, issues may well be more common in certain models than others. Different vehicles are bound to put pressure on the engine in a different kind of way.
Oil pump issues aren’t all that common of an issue for this engine, but when they occur they can be a serious problem – so it is worth being aware of its potential to occur.
Oil pump failure can lead to a lack of oil flow, which will very rapidly increase the friction on the moving parts in the engine resulting in serious damage if it isn’t addressed promptly. Fortunately the ECU is designed to pick up on any oil flow issues to prevent this from occurring. If the oil pressure drops considerably the ECU will simply reduce the amount of power the engine can produce.
One thing that may be the cause of oil pump issues is grit or small particles getting stuck in it over time. Oil flows through the cylinder head, so if this occurs it is something worth remedying before any damage can take place.
If cooling issues occur on the pentastar its usually caused by either the water pump or the radiator malfunctioning. There are some other components that can cause issues with the cooling system but more than 9 times out of 10 its the radiator or water pump that’s gone wrong. In some cases sand and grit can get into the cooling system parts and cause all kinds of mayhem. Over the course of years this can wear the parts out.
In terms of diagnosing an issue with the cooling system the main indicator that something has gone wrong with it is that the engine will start to overheat. This is because coolant will not be flowing through the engine moderating its temperature as its designed to do.
Another indicator that there could be a problem is that the cars air conditioning system will stop working properly, it will be unable to bring the temperature in the car down. To spot these issues and find a remedy for them, you can looking a leak, or open up the car and see if the coolant levels aren’t at the right level.
Rocker Arm Problems
Rockers arm failures are another thing to look out for. It definitely isn’t a common problem, but it can sometimes happen so its a good idea to be aware of what the symptoms might look like. Also considering rocker arms are not cheap to replace it can be an expensive thing to remedy.
The main symptoms you might experience with this issue are a ticking, or clicking type of noise and engine misfiring. The ticking sounds like it comes from the top of the engine.
One thing that you should note is that if you experience this issue you don’t actually need to replace the cylinder head (as is often done). Make sure you go to a knowledgeable mechanic with experience on this particular engine if you have an issue.
Cylinder Head Issues
Cylinder head failure is another issue that can happen, however, it is not a very common occurrence. It happens almost exclusively on engines from 2011 through to 2013.
The cause of this issue is most often overheating valves. FCA sorted the problem out by making the valves more sturdy in models after 2013 (after 2013 they also increased the warranty on the engine).
As the 3.6 pentastar is used in a variety of different vehicles, there are some models where this issue occurs more often. The Jeep Wrangler seems to have the issue at a higher rate than most, but still relatively infrequently.
In terms of symptoms the first thing that is noticeable is the check engine light. At some point compression of the engine will reduce resulting in loss of power. To resolve the issue costs a lot of money, fortunately however the warranty should cover it in most cases.
Premature Engine Wear due to Lack of Maintenance
A vehicles engine is a sturdy thing in some ways, and yet very delicate. To keep it in top shape there are important maintenance steps that you must perform at the right time. If you fail to take care of the engine it is much more likely that it will face problems down the line. Resulting in wasted time and money (mechanics bills).
Be sure you get your engine as well as the other parts of the vehicle serviced frequently. This includes things like changing the oil and filters. You also need to get a proper mechanical inspection done periodically to ensure that any larger problems are caught early. It’s also a good idea to stay mindful of any indicators that there might be a problem, such as the check engine light.
Is the 3.6 Pentastar Engine Reliable?
Yes. This is a very reliable engine used by well respected car makers in various different models. This engine has a great reputation among automotive enthusiasts, and for good reason. Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler all use this 3.6L engine in their flagship models.
Not only is it reliable, but it is also highly efficient and powerful, offering an all around balance of the qualities that make an engine desirable for your vehicle.
As said previously, just because this engine is reliable doesn’t mean that it won’t occasionally have some issues pop up. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone given that there are many millions of vehicles that use this engine, undoubtedly many of them are poorly maintained. Overall if reliability is something you are worried about, this 3.6L engine is high up there amongst the best options.
Hopefully this list has cleared things up for you, regarding the common problems you may face with your 3.6 pentastar engine. It should be very clear that this engine, and any vehicle with it under the hood is going to perform well and surpass your expectations. If you want to avoid some of the common pitfalls mentioned above then it’s a good idea to place emphasis on regular vehicle maintenance.