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Typical Jeep 3.6 Engine Problems [+How to Fix Them]

Consistent and solid, the 3.6L Pentastar engine has been powering up vehicles for many years. Such is the case of Jeep models from 2011 to current days, which get massive 275-305HP gains.

The fact that it’s a reliable unit also helps, giving you peace of mind to hit the roads without concerns.

Or, at least that’s the case for the most part. Like other engines, this one is also quite familiar with some common problems.

But there’s no need to worry. Every problem has a solution, and in this Jeep 3.6 engine problems article, you’ll learn how to do that.

So, let’s not wait any longer and head straight into the matter at hand!

What are the Jeep 3.6 Common Problems?

There are four Pentastar engine problems that most Jeep owners have to deal with. Those are the following:

  • Cylinder head failure, present in 2011 to 2013 models
  • Malfunctioning rocker arms
  • Issues with the cooling system
  • A faulty oil pump mechanism

Those are the most fearsome problems you also may experience with this type of engine.

But as I mentioned above, this article covers those issues thoroughly and their potential solutions. So here, I’ll break down all of that for you.

Does that mean that all Pentastar engines have these problems?

Well, not quite.

In some cases, the engines can go on for years without experiencing any of these problems.

Plus, this doesn’t mean that these are the only problems they may have. Considering the age and mileage of the 3.6L engine, other issues may come up.

However, I’m sticking to the four problems that have caused the most headaches. So let’s focus on that and move on to the next section.

01. Cylinder Head Failure

Cylinder head problems are a thing in a lot of engines. Sadly, the 3.6 Pentastar doesn’t escape this.

That’s why I found it fitting to start the discussion by talking about this specific issue.

Regularly, this is a problem mostly found on Pentastar engines from 2011 and 2013.

Some of the earliest 3.6L V6 engines released within those years had this failure on the left bank.

However, it didn’t take long before Fiat-Chrysler discovered the cause: overheated valve seats of the #2 cylinder.

They also provided a simple but effective solution, which was to use hardened valve guides and seats.

Customers that already owned the engine before that also had a response.

As a result, the FCA placed an extended warranty to cover ten years/150,000 miles for the Pentastar’s left cylinder heads.

These measures covered models from 2011, 2012, and 2013.

While other car models like Dodge and Chrysler had this problem, it mostly happened to Jeep Wranglers.

Luckily, these have the warranty coverage that granted a quick fix. Even some of the most complicated Jeep Pentastar engine problems get solved this way.

Symptoms of Cylinder Head Problems

Different signs might indicate there’s something wrong with the cylinder heads. If you pay enough attention, you may notice it quickly and act accordingly.

This way, the risks of accidents or potentially dangerous situations won’t even happen in the first place.

This is what you need to keep in mind to stop cylinder head problems:

  • Eventual misfires
  • Check engine light
  • Constant engine ticking
  • Significant loss of power

Out of those four, engine ticking and check engine lights are the easiest to spot.

These are not necessarily endangering issues, but leaving them unattended is not something you should do.

If you do, there may be a drop compression in the cylinder. Eventually, all of that would lead to misfires and power loss.

Solution: Get a Cylinder Head Replacement

This solution is the quickest, easiest, and hassle-free. Nonetheless, the cylinder head replacement for this engine isn’t cheap.

Consider whether the warranty for this problem covers your vehicle and make it effective if that’s the case. Most early cars are eligible, so chances are yours is, too.

Without the warranty, you may be looking at hundreds or thousands of dollars in expenses.

And that’s without including professional assistance, which may be a necessary service as well.

02. Rocker Arm Problems

Interestingly enough, people often confuse this problem with the previous one.

This is because cylinder heads host the rocker arms. Therefore, it’s easy to think they’re both the same thing.

But that’s not true. Rocker arm problems are a whole different thing, and you must treat them with another mindset.

FCA also addressed this problem in a released service bulletin. Unfortunately, Pentastar 3.6L engines produced later had the same problem, too.

Therefore, it became clear that the updated part offered by the company didn’t work in some cases.

Quick Note: While the FCA issued a bulletin, it seems like there’s no extra warranty time to cover rocker arm problems.

This means only one thing: any new parts or service comes out of your pocket. But, of course, if the factory warranty isn’t out yet, you can still get this problem covered.

Keep in mind that this is a recurring problem, too. Therefore, you may have some leverage to get a discount after contacting the FCA.

Symptoms of Rocker Arm Failure

But how can you tell if there is a rocker arm failure going on? By running a diagnosis after detecting some of the recurrent symptoms.

These may be subtle but still noticeable once you’re familiar with the vehicle.

Look out for the following signs:

  • Engine ticking
  • DTC, or Diagnostic Trouble Code
  • Misfires

These are the common symptoms to remember when you suspect the engine has rocker arm problems. But interestingly, one symptom leads to the other one.

For instance, the first thing you’ll notice is the ticking sound at the upper area of the engine. As time passes, other signs that come up are fault codes.

Eventually, these codes could end up meaning that cylinders are experiencing misfires.

If you’re dealing with any of that, checking the rocker arm would be a good idea.

Solution: Replace the Cylinder Head

This problem can be a lot of headaches, so people prefer to cut it at the root. Thus, replacing the whole cylinder head could be the way to go.

However, you must keep in mind two things here: parts and cost.

Getting the parts separately is quick and easy, as they’re not expensive at all. But, you may want to get help from a mechanic to get the job done.

If this is the case, then you’ll be spending a considerable amount of money.

Approximately, the overall cost is between $500 and $1000. While you’re at it, consider changing every rocker arm inside.

03. Cooling System Problems

You must check two things for this problem: the water pump and the radiator. If there’s a malfunction in either of those, the engine may experience cooling issues.

Additionally, the core of the heater and the oil cooler can also fail as a result. But why does this happen? It’s interesting, frankly.

To manufacture the V6 Pentastar, the FCA uses sand-casting methods.

In many cases, some of these sand deposits remain, and mechanics must clean them before installing the cylinder head.

Nonetheless, these sand deposits persist even after that.

As time passes, those deposits enter the cooling system. It won’t go long before they create sludge and deposits all around the cooling system.

Ultimately, all of these issues lead to the water pump, radiator, and oil cooler problems.

Of course, cooling system problems can also happen because of other reasons.

Since most of the cooling systems in the 3.6L engine are wear and tear parts, this problem takes place regularly.

As long as you keep your eye out, noticing these problems won’t be difficult.

If you take notice, the very next step is to identify potential symptoms to confirm the suspicions. The following section will cover these engine symptoms more in-depth.

Symptoms of Cooling System Failure

Cooling failures are too typical in most engines. However, the Pentastar 3.6L engine shows some specific symptoms while dealing with this issue.

Prepare to act quickly if you see any of the following:

  • Engine overheating problems
  • Issues with the A/C or heat
  • Coolant leaks
  • Check Engine Light
  • Fault Codes

As you can see, it’s easy to notice these symptoms. It isn’t even necessary to leave the car to check, as you’ll realize they’re happening while driving.

The moment you deal with overheating, you should know there’s something wrong with the cooling system. After all, the system supposedly prevents that.

Solution: Replace Parts — Consult with a Professional

This problem often proves to be too tricky for a DIY approach. Unless you have experience, dealing with cooling system problems can end up costing you a lot of money.

This is because you’d have to replace multiple parts, and not only one. So what may look like a quick fix at first can add up to thousands of dollars by the end.

Therefore, getting professional help is the right way to go. They’ll run a thorough diagnosis to give you an in-depth look into what’s causing the problem.

Then, it’d be easier and less expensive to solve the cooling system problem.

04. Oil Pump Failure

This problem is not as typical as the others, but it can still happen.

While your engine may go on a lifetime without experiencing this issue, it’s better to be ready in case you have to take care of it.

Otherwise, it may lead to severe consequences like lack of proper oil flow.

Luckily, the issue may not go further than that. If it happens, the ECU should take care of the oil flow loss and prevent significant damages.

This is why people consider that oil pump failures aren’t necessarily complete failures. And that’s true! Sort of.

The computer can automatically limit revs and power. As a result, there’s no need to do much here.

In fact, this issue could track back to the previous problem. Oil pump failures may have their roots within the same problems that damage the cooling system.

Therefore, it’s important to keep sand deposits away from the oil pump, too.

So, there you have it! This is the final of the four main problems that 3.6 engines experience.

Knowing the reasons behind them is crucial, as you’ll have the opportunity to get ready and fix it quickly. If you do, the engine should go on for years.

Is the 3.6 Engine a Reliable Choice?

After learning about the 3.6 Pentastar engine problems, you’re probably wondering whether it’s a good engine.

To put it simply, the answer is yes. Despite these few issues, this engine is still solid and reliable.

If you don’t believe me, believe some of the most popular manufacturers like Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler.

These companies use this engine to power up their flagship vehicles, which is why it has been around for about a decade.

By offering consistent and efficient performance, the 3.6 engine can outshine many others.

Up to date, there has been more than 10 million of this engine produced. With that many, it’s only natural that some problems arise.

But when you’re ready and know what might happen, acting quickly to get the issues fixed is easier.

If you do, you can expect the engine to run smoothly for years.

Plus, you can always prevent any of those problems from ever happening by doing maintenance. Keep your engine in good shape, and it’ll run free of troubles.

Final Words

It’s a scary situation when you have to deal with an engine problem. However, these are more common than most would think.

And the type of engine doesn’t matter either, as many of them struggle with issues periodically. Thus, you have to keep yourself calm and work on possible solutions.

Now that you know the most common Jeep 3.6 engine problems, you have the information needed to fix them.

This way, your 3.6 engine will continue giving you hours of fun on the roads. Don’t forget to maintain it from time to time as well.

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