The FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) 3.6L Pentastar engine powers many 2011 to present Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler models. There’s a reason this 3.6L V6 has been around so long. Performance is solid for a NA V6 engine with 275-305 horsepower. Additionally, the Pentastar 3.6L engine is efficient and reliable. However, all engines are prone to problems and the Pentastar is no exception. In this article, we discuss FCA 3.6L Pentastar reliability along with some common problems.
What Cars Use the 3.6 Pentastar?
The Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram 3.6 V6 Pentastar is in the following vehicles:
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
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
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
Pentastar 3.6L Common Problems
Some of the most common issues with the Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar engine include:
- Cylinder head (2011-2013)
- Rocker arms
- Cooling system
- Oil pump
Below we break down each of these problems in-depth. It’s a good time to add a few quick notes. Simply because we’re classifying these failures as common does not mean every Pentastar engine will have these problems. Additionally, engines are prone to many problems – especially with age and mileage. 3.6 Pentastar engines may experience faults we do not cover in this article.
Finally, the Pentastar is used in dozens of models that all serve different purposes. These range from the Ram 1500 trucks, to off-roading Jeeps, and performance oriented models like the Challenger, Charger, and C300. Certain failures may be more or less common on various models depending on specific use of the vehicle. Before diving into the common 3.6 Pentastar engine problems below is a list of all cars the engine is found in.
1) FCA Pentastar Cylinder Head Failure
This is a good problem to knock out first since it’s primarily an issue on early 2011-2013 Pentastar engines. Some early 3.6L V6’s ran into cylinder head failures on the left bank. The underlying cause is overheating of the valve seats on cylinder #2. Fiat-Chrysler resolved the issue in mid-2013 with hardened valve guides and seats. They also did their best to make it right for customers. FCA extended the 3.6L Pentastar warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles for the left cylinder heads on 2011, 2012, and some 2013 models.
It appears the Jeep Wrangler was the most prone to the 3.6L Pentastar cylinder head problems. However, the issue affected many various models. The good news is most FCA Pentastar engines should still be covered under the extended warranty. That or the problems were already fixed.
Pentastar Cylinder Head Problems Symptoms
Symptoms of cylinder head failure on the 3.6L Pentastar include:
- Check engine light
- Engine ticking
- Power loss
Ticking and check engine lights are often the most noticeable symptoms. However, if the problem is left then the cylinder may eventually drop compression. That leads to symptoms like misfires and loss of power.
Cylinder head replacement for the 3.6L Pentastar isn’t cheap. Again, most early cars should be under the warranty extension. If not under warranty then cylinder head replacement can be thousands of dollars. It’s also important to note cylinder head failure can occur on any year. However, it’s not a common issue on later engines.
2) 3.6 Pentastar Rocker Arm Problems
Sometimes this problem is confused with the above. Rocker arms are located in the cylinder head, so it’s understandable. However, Pentastar rocker arm problems are not the same. Rocker arms are also known as cam followers. FCA issued a service bulletin for this problem, which we’ve imaged below. View the full service bulletin here. There is a superseding part as of the bulletin from 2014. However, some newer Pentastar 3.6L engines run into the same faults. As such, it seems the updated part isn’t a perfect fix.
Although the service bulletin exists we’re not aware of any additional warranty period for the rocker arm problems. As such, you’ll be paying out of pocket if your factory warranty is out. However, since it’s a known issue you may be able to work with FCA for a discount. Rocker arm failures likely aren’t as common as the internet may suggest. At the same time, it’s an important topic as rocker arms are one of the more expensive 3.6 Pentastar problems.
FCA 3.6 Rocker Arm Failure Symptoms
Common symptoms of Pentastar rocker arm problems include:
- Engine ticking
- Diagnostic trouble code (DTC)
The most common symptoms of rocker arm failure is a ticking sound from the upper engine area. You may also receive fault codes also known as DTC’s. The codes will usually indicate a cylinder misfire.
3.6 Pentastar Rocker Arm Replacement
Interestingly, some seem to report dealerships replacing the entire cylinder head for this problem. This job does not require removal of the cylinder head. However, cam follower replacement isn’t cheap. It’s fairly labor intensive as the valve covers must come off. This repair should be left to knowledgeable mechanics or DIY’ers. Fortunately, the parts are pretty cheap. Most of the Pentastar rocker arm fix costs are labor. Expect to pay about $500-1000 for the job. It may be a good idea to replace all of the rocker arms while in there.
3) FCA Pentastar 3.6L Cooling System Issues
Our primary focus here is on the Pentastar water pump and radiator. Rather than writing similar info on both problems we’re lumping it together. There are also other components that may fail like the heater core and oil cooler. FCA manufactures the V6 Pentastar using sand-casting methods. Of course, there are some deposits of sand left that must be properly cleaned before the cylinder head is installed. However, it appears sand deposits sometimes remain in the engine after production.
Over time, the sand makes its way into the cooling system and can cause sludge and deposits throughout the cooling system. That ultimately leads to Pentastar problems like water pump, radiator, heater core, and oil cooler failure. As with most stuff – the problems likely aren’t as common as the internet suggests. However, it’s not hard to come across forum members who have been thru these same repairs multiple times.
Cooling system problems may also occur separately from the above sand causes. A lot of the Pentastar 3.6L cooling system components are wear and tear parts. Faults due to natural wear are not uncommon north of 100,000 miles.
Fiat-Chrysler 3.6L Cooling System Failure Symptoms
Look out for the following symptoms of Pentastar cooling system problems:
- Overheating engine
- Heat or A/C problems
- Visible coolant leak
- Fault codes or check engine light
Overheating is usually a dead giveaway that something isn’t right with the cooling system. A Pentastar 3.6L water pump or radiator issue will restrict coolant from properly flowing throughout the engine. You may also realize your heat or AC systems aren’t keeping up with the requested temperature. There may be failures that do not cause coolant loss, but most will result in a visible leak or quick coolant loss. Finally, you might get fault codes and a check engine light depending upon the specific cooling problem.
Pentastar 3.6 Cooling System Fix
We’ll keep this short since this section is vague and not focused on one specific part. Most problems with the cooling system aren’t too costly or challenging to DIY. Depending on the specific problem at hand you may end up spending $200-800 at a repair shop. However, with the sand issues referenced above there is a chance you need to replace multiple parts. That’s where costs may begin to add up.
4) 3.6L FCA Pentastar Oil Pump Failure
We’ll be quick on this section. This is probably the least common Pentastar problem among the ones discussed in this post. It might not even be worth the mention. Nonetheless, oil pump failures are a serious issue since they can lead to a lack of oil flow. The ECU should quickly pick up on loss of oil flow and do its best to prevent any further damage. It seems the 3.6L oil pump failures are not complete failures, but rather a drop in oil pressure. That’s good news since the computer should quickly limit the revs and power. As long as the oil is flowing thru the engine and the engine isn’t run hard then no further damage should occur.
Many oil pump failures may actually boil down to the same reason cooling system parts go bad. Oil and coolant both flow through the Pentastar’s cylinder head. If any sand deposits are left they could be picked up and get caught in the oil pump over time.
Is the Pentastar 3.6L Engine Reliable?
Short answer – yes. The FCA 3.6L Pentastar engine is reliable. We’ll give the Pentastar above average marks for reliability. Again, there is a reason this engine is powering so many flagship vehicles from Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram; the same reason it’s been around for a decade. The FCA 3.6L engine is reliable and efficient all while providing solid performance.
That said, it’s not hard to continue researching the 3.6L Pentastar engine and finding plenty of owners with problems. 10 million plus Pentastar engines were produced to date. That’s a lot of engines. All engines are prone to problems, especially with that volume of production. Mistakes happen. No machine or person is completely perfect. Sometimes reliability simply comes down to the luck of the draw.
Fortunately, it appears the overwhelming majority of Pentastar V6 owners have great experiences with the engine. One of the things we can control is maintenance. Maintain your FCA 3.6L well and chances are it will be an excellent engine that you can enjoy trouble free for years and years. There are even a few cases of the Pentastar holding up to 500,000+ miles. How’s that for longevity?
3.6 Pentastar Common Problems Summary
Reading about common problems is always scary. At least it is for us; suddenly we start thinking and assuming the worst. That’s the last thing we want when writing common engine problem posts and it’s especially true with the 3.6L Pentastar. It truly is a sound engine, overall. Reliable, efficient, smooth, and solid performance. There’s not much to complain about, but no engine is perfect.
Some early examples of the 3.6L Pentastar ran into problems with the cylinder head due to overheating valve seats on the #2 cylinder. Rocker arms, cooling system parts, and oil pumps are among a few other well documented issues. However, we believe they’re well documented thanks to the 10 million plus Pentastar engines. The 3.6L FCA Pentastar really is a great, reliable engine. No engine is perfect, but there’s a reason so many Pentastar’s are out there. We believe that reason is this: it’s pretty damn good at its job.
What’s your experience with the 3.6L Pentastar? Leave a comment and let us know!
Want more power? Check out our 5.7L HEMI common problems post