Chrysler 3.8 V6 Engine Problems & Reliability

The 4 Most Common Chrysler 3.8 Engine Problems

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The Chrysler 3.8 V6 engine made its debut all the way back in 1991 in the Jeep Wrangler and lasted for a full 20 years. While it went through a number of upgrades over the years, one thing remained the same: it’s reliability. And, it’s reliability is just about average. Some of these engines last to 250,000 miles with minimal problems while others reach an early demise from some common problems.

The Chrysler 3.8 engine used in the Jeep’s suffered from problems including excessive oil consumption, timing cover leaks, intake manifold failure, and oil leaks. We’re going to break each of these problems down in-depth and provide some overall thoughts on engine reliability.

Chrysler 3.8 V6 Engine Problems & Reliability

Chrysler 3.8 Engine Problems

  • Excess oil consumption
  • Intake manifold leak
  • Timing cover issues
  • Oil leaks

1) Excess Oil Consumption

The Chrysler 3.8 engine is known to suffer form excessive oil consumption, burning through about 1 quart per 1,000 miles. This tends to mostly affect higher mileage engines. In some cases it is completely normal and doesn’t provide any concerns for reliability or longevity. However, on very high mileage engines it can point to a bigger problem with bearing or piston wring wear.

Just make sure oil levels don’t get too low as it can lead to starvation within the timing chain system which can ultimately give the engine an early visit to a scrapyard.


  • Low engine oil
  • Burning oil smells
  • Smoke from exhaust
  • Other issues

2) Intake Manifold Leak Problems

Up next are coolant leak problems due to the lower intake manifold gasket on the Chrysler 3.8 engine. This issue is actually most prevalent on the 2001+ Jeep and Chrysler engines. This is when Chrysler moved to the updated intake manifold to help improve power and performance.

Anyways, there isn’t really too much to this problem. The lower intake manifold gasket simply goes bad with age and mileage. Cracks develop and coolant begins leaking from the manifold. It’s a fairly common issue on the 3.8L Chrysler and Jeep engines.

Look for these issues to mostly pop up north of 8 years old and 100,000 miles. Problems can arise earlier but it’s mostly due to age and wear + tear on the lower manifold gasket.

Manifold Leak Symptoms

  • Visible coolant leak
  • Low coolant
  • Wet transmission bell housing
  • Steam from engine bay

Gasket Replacement

Gaskets are typically cheap parts to replace, so that’s the good news. The intake manifold also lays at the top of the engine, so it’s a fairly simple job. A good mechanic should knock the job out in no more than 1-2 hours. As such, $150-250 should be standard for labor and the gaskets come in at less than $50.

It’s a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme. DIY’ers can even knock out this job for less than $50. However, a few bolts can be a pain so be patient and ensure the new gasket seals properly.

3) Timing Cover Issues

Well, here we have another leak on the Chrysler & Jeep 3.8L engine. There is actually a technical service bulletin (TSB) from Jeep regarding these problems. Timing cover oil leaks do also affect Chrysler models with the 3.8 V6 engine. Anyways, the issue at hand is the o-rings within the timing cover.

Faulty o-rings within the timing cover can crack, deform, break etc. This causes an oil leak to develop from the timing chain cover. Look for visible oil leaks in that area. This is probably one of the less common issues we’re covering, so we’re keeping it short.

Additionally, we’re covering general oil leaks next so we’ll discuss symptoms and replacement there. Anyways, hopefully faulty timing chain cover oil leaks were fixed under warranty. If not, you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket.

4) Oil Leak Problems

There’s a joke we came across a while ago, “If your Jeep isn’t leaking oil then you don’t have any oil left.” Oil leak problems don’t only affect the Jeep models, but also the Chrysler models.

We went over the manifold coolant leak already, and oil leaks aren’t much different. Gaskets, seals, and o-rings simply wear down with age and mileage. Cracks develop and leaks form. When it comes to oil leaks on the 3.8L V6 it’s mostly due to older age and higher mileage.

One of the most common leaks is from the valve cover gaskets. However, main crankshaft seals and oil pan gasket leaks do happen too. Anyways, look for these leaks primarily after 8+ years and 100,000+ miles.

Chrysler 3.8 V6 Reliability

Is the Jeep/Chrysler 3.8 V6 engine reliable? We believe this engine earns average remarks for reliability. It certainly isn’t as reliable as the Jeep 4.0L engine. However, it does still offer solid reliability all around. High oil consumption and some coolant and gasket leaks can be common issues.

Some Chrysler 3.8 engines fail early and those owners are quick to lay judgement. Others hold up well beyond 250,000 miles with few or no issues along the way to that mileage. Sometimes it is just luck of the draw. But, some of it can be controlled through maintenance. Maximizing longevity on these engines is all about frequent oil and fluid changes.

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  1. I have a Jeep 2008 Sahara and it runs like new with 116,000 miles. I replaced the thermostat lower and manifild gasket before it got bad. It is not a speedster but its not supposed to be. So far it has burned no oil at all since the last change about 2000 miles ago. I used valvoline full synthetic.
    Extremely quite , no lifter or valve noises. I am confident I could take this Jeep across country with no problem and may just do that soon.

  2. over 200,000 on my 2008 3.8L wrangler. Consumed oil from the start, which my mechanic told me would happen. Result? made me more vigilant checking and changing oil, since I tended to be a little lazy. No other problems although I do not park in pretty droveways.

  3. This was informative. I happen to be fortunate with 190k miles and no leaks. I am scouting either rebuilding my existing, or another engine as a swap but want to keep my “new” transmission, new AC compressor, and condenser…Do you have any info on engine swaps keeping the existing tranny?

  4. I have a jeep wranger the motor went when driving it, jeep dealer has it, 116000 miles on it 9k to put a used motor in it. Not happy at all the way it is handled.

  5. 2011 jeep wrangler 3.8 v6 with 95k miles ,has a knocking noise after warm up, sounds like a rod or wrist pin

  6. They ‘re junk . If you have one with a nice engine and transmission that are trouble free . When the dealership gets a hold of it for minor repairs , they will ruin your engine and transmission for constant future repairs . Got rid of my 2011 . Chrysler can suck it .

  7. My JK wrangler 2009 v6 3.8l is still going well after almost 600000 km! I have replaced timing gears and chain recently +front crank seal.

  8. I have owned 3 of these engines in Chrysler minivans. A 2003 Sold at 180,000 miles another 2003 with161,0000 miles and currently owned 2005 at 127,000. No engine problems, no transmission problems, No oil consumption. The two older ones had oil leaks but that it. I used synthetic oil. My experience isans was positive so I kept buying them.

  9. I have 2011 Rubicon the pcv valve failed .I checked into this = oil consumption . It’s just poor designed to me .I changed it up and doesn’t consume any oil . Few old school changes to the pvc set up and functionality of that for emission concerns are met for n.y.

  10. I just purchased a 2008 Rubicon same engine 6 speed manual, 125 k miles runs great start in second because first is a granny gear but so far so good.

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