One of the most glaring issues on the 3.2 and 3.6 Chrysler Pentastar V6 engine is the oil filter housing. Since its debut in 2011, countless drivers have complained about it being prone to cracking and leaking, which can lead to catastrophic engine failure. The issue is linked to the weak plastic material that Chrysler used to create the housing, and they have never updated the part sufficiently. Even today, new Dodges, Jeeps, and Chryslers, continue to have oil filter housing problems.
This article will cover the 3.2 and 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing problem in-depth. We’ll explain what oil filter housings are and why the Pentastar’s is such a joke. Then, we’ll go over how to replace a leaky housing and show you the best replacement on the market today. Finally, we have an FAQ at the bottom if you just need some quick answers.
* Everything in this article applies to both the 3.2 and 3.6 Pentastar engines unless specifically noted otherwise.
Chrysler 3.2/3.6 Pentastar Overview
Chrysler first unveiled the 3.6 Pentastar for the 2011 model year and it has been in production since. The slightly smaller 3.2 Pentastar was in production from 2014–2022. It is estimated that there have been more than 10 million Pentastars sold as of 2023, making it a very widespread and common engine. It has won Ward Auto’s 10-Best Engines of the Year multiple times, proving its worth. Depending on the model it’s in, the 3.6 makes between 283-305 horsepower and 251-269 lb-ft of torque
The 3.2/3.6 Pentastars are naturally aspirated V6s with port injection rather than direct injection. They have dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) on each cylinder bank and are 24 valve engines. In 2016, Chrysler updated the 3.6 Pentastar to give a slightly higher compression ratio, new intake manifold, and new variable valve timing (VVT) system. However, the oil filter housing was not changed or upgraded.
Chrysler 3.2/3.6 Pentastar Oil Filter Housing Affected Vehicles
The Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar engine has appeared domestically in the following vehicles:
- 2011–2017 Chrysler 200
- 2011–Present Chrysler 300
- 2011–2016 Chrysler Town & Country
- 2011–2014 Dodge Avenger
- 2011–Present Dodge Challenger
- 2011–Present Dodge Charger
- 2011–Present Dodge Durango
- 2011–Present Dodge Grand Caravan
- 2011–Present Dodge Journey
- 2011–Present Jeep Grand Cherokee
- 2011–2015 Ram Cargo Van
- 2011–2014 Volkswagen Routan
- 2012–Present Jeep Wrangler
- 2012–Present Ram 1500
- 2013–Present Ram ProMaster
- 2016–Present Chrysler Pacifica
- 2020–Present Chrysler Voyager
- 2020–Present Jeep Gladiator
The Chrysler 3.2 Pentastar engine has appeared domestically in the following vehicles:
- 2014–2022 Jeep Cherokee
What is an Oil Filter Housing?
An oil filter housing is exactly what it sounds like: The housing module that your engine’s oil filter sits in. In order for oil to last as long as possible without degradation, all engines need filters to help extract particulates and contaminates from the oil supply. Every single commercial production engine has them with no exceptions. On the 3.2/3.6 Pentastar, the oil filter housing also contains the oil cooler as well.
The Pentastar oil filter housing sits directly between the left and right cylinder banks in the center of the engine. This is important for a few reasons. One, it means that to access the oil filter housing, the upper and lower intake manifolds have to be removed. It also means the housing is subjected to extreme heat from pretty much all angles.
However, the reason for the placement was likely to make oil changes convenient. The filter itself is very accessible, making oil changes much easier on the Pentastars than some other engines.
In 2014, Chrysler did revise the oil filter housing to remove the bypass valve inside the tower. They also slightly changed the housing shape and the bolt pattern of the oil cooler. However, Chrysler still used the same plastic material.
What’s wrong with the 3.6 Pentastar Oil Filter Housing?
The problem with the 3.2 and 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing is the weak plastic material. Most oil filter housings are made of some sort of steel, like iron or aluminum. Chrysler’s choice of using plastic was almost certainly related to cutting costs, and unfortunately it has come back to hurt consumers.
Due to the constant heating and cooling of the housing, it can start to become warped or cracked over time. In addition, parts of it can start to break off or chip away under extreme usage, like 4×4 off-roading or rock crawling. This warping, cracking, and chipping, can end up making the housing leak either oil, coolant, or both. This is the main problem with the 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing: leaks.
If your engine leaks too much oil, it will not be able to properly lubricate itself and will experience catastrophic failure. If your engine does not have adequate coolant the radiator will not be able to keep excessive temperatures in check, leading again potentially to catastrophic engine failure. As you can imagine, having a leak free and fully functioning oil filter housing is very important.
For 2011–2013 models with the Gen 1 Pentastar, Chrysler recommended the entire housing be replaced as well as the o-rings if a leak was found. However, for all 2014+ Pentastars with the problem, Chrysler claims that there is not a problem with the oil filter housing itself. They say the problem is related to the o-rings on the bottom. According to Chrysler, failing o-rings are the cause of leaks, not warped or cracked plastic.
3.6 Pentastar Oil Filter Housing Leak Symptoms
The symptoms of an oil filter housing leak on the 3.6 Pentastar are pretty clear – leaking oil and/or coolant – but they are not always as obvious as you might think. Due to the location of the housing – between the left and right cylinder banks on top of the V – the leaking oil and coolant will often pool up on the engine instead of spilling onto the ground right away. This means you might not notice coolant or oil spots on the ground to indicate a leak until it gets really bad.
While it’s probably not necessary to pop your hood and take a look every few trips, checking the entire housing assembly whenever you do an oil change is a good idea. You should be able to inspect the area with a bright flashlight and see if there are any leaks in the area.
3.6 Pentastar Oil Filter Housing Replacement Guide
The replacement of the 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing assembly is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind, not all versions of the Pentastar are the same, and some have different intake assemblies and throttle bodies. This is a general guide meant to give an overview of the replacement. Below is also a YouTube video showing you step-by-step how to replace the assembly on a 2015 Jeep Wrangler JK.
3.6 Pentastar Oil Filter Housing Replacement
The best solution to a leaking oil filter housing is installing an aluminum replacement. Aluminum oil filter housings eliminate any problem with constant heat cycling and thermal degradation. The metal can stand up to the temperature changes without issue, preventing any leaks from springing.
The most popular models are made by Dorman and there are two: The Dorman 926-876 Upgraded Aluminum Housing Unit and the Dorman 926-959 Upgraded Aluminum Housing Unit. They are both 100% high-pressure and die-cast aluminum and are designed and manufactured in America.
Importantly, not every model of the 3.6 Pentastar is the same, and the Dormans do not fit the 2011–2013 Pentastars with the early oil filter housing that has a bypass valve in the tower. Make sure to 100% check fitment before making any purchases.
If you believe Chrysler, you can alternatively simply try to replace the o-rings on the unit instead of buying a whole new assembly. However, if you notice there are still leaks coming from the area, you will probably have to go ahead and upgrade to get them to stop.
Step-by-Step Assembly Replacement Guide
1. The first steps are to disconnect the battery, remove the engine cover, and remove part of air intake. You do not need to remove the airbox on most models, as just taking out the tubing from the throttle body to the airbox should give you enough space. Most intakes are held on by a combination of hose clamps and 10 mm bolts, and you may need to unplug a sensor.
2. Your next step is to remove the upper intake manifold. To take off the upper intake manifold you will need to disconnect everything, including any electrical connections. The upper manifold is held in mainly by bolts and support brackets that need to be removed before it can be taken out.
3. Next, you will need to remove the lower intake manifold. You do not need to remove the fuel rails and injectors, but they should be disconnected. The manifold is mainly held in by bolts, and can easily lift out when disconnected.
4. The next step is to unbolt the oil filter housing and remove it from the engine. After it is removed, transfer the sensors and oil cooler over to the new aluminum version. Make sure to use the newly supplied o-rings. Then, clean out any debris or fluid from the area so it is ready for a new install.
5. Now, work your way backwards to finish: Install the new oil filter housing assembly, lower intake manifold, upper intake manifold, air intake, and engine cover. Then you can reconnect the battery and start the car and recheck for all leaks.
Check out the below YouTube video from ATEM OFFROAD for a step-by-step guide to changing out the cooler in a 2015 Jeep Wrangler JK.
What is the 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing?
The oil filter housing on the 3.6 Pentastar is where the oil filter and oil coolers are located on the engine. The oil filter is necessary to remove any contaminants and particulates from the oil, while the cooler is used to regulate engine oil temperature. Both are connected to the same housing assembly on the 3.6 Pentastar.
When does the 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing need replacement?
The OEM oil filter housing needs to be replaced when it becomes warped and/or cracked and starts to leak either oil and/or coolant. Neglecting to replace it can cause serious problems, like potentially catastrophic engine damage.
Why does the 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing need replacement?
The weak plastic material Chrysler used to make the housing assembly is prone to warping and cracking under repeated heat cycling. This causes it to start leaking oil and/or coolant, which can potentially lead to catastrophic engine failure.
What is the best assembly replacement?
The best replacement is an all aluminum unit that will not be subject to thermal degradation due to repeated heat cycling. The most popular models are made by Dorman and there are two: The Dorman 926-876 Upgraded Aluminum Housing Unit and the Dorman 926-959 Upgraded Aluminum Housing Unit. They are both 100% high-pressure and die-cast aluminum and are designed and manufactured in America. Make sure to check fitment on your vehicle before purchase.
What does Chrysler say?
Chrysler claims the issue is not with the assembly but with the o-rings on the bottom. They suggest replacing the o-rings if there is an issue. However, many people have done that and still had leaks, leading them to replace the entire unit with an aluminum one to eliminate the problem.
Let us know any comments or questions about replacing the 3.2 or 3.6 Pentastar oil filter housing assembly on your Dodge, Jeep, or Chrysler!