The Guide to the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Engine. FCA Stellantis’ 3.6 Pentastar engine, first introduced for the 2011 model year, has been one of the company’s most reliable engines over the last decade. The V6 engine can produce more than 300 horsepower while yet providing good fuel economy and dependability. FCA Stellantis has installed the engine in a variety of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles, where it has performed admirably.
It has won Ward’s 10-Best engines multiple times and has best-in-class performance numbers in several categories. Chrysler has sold over 10 million Pentastar engines globally since their introduction. This page will go over the history, specifications, vehicle applications, engine design, typical problems, and performance enhancements for the 3.6 Pentastar engine.
History of the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Engine
For the 2011 model year, FCA Steallantis (Chrysler) introduced the Pentastar engine family. The initial Pentastar was a 3.6 litre V6, but there have also been 3.2 litre and 3.0 litre V6 variations since then. The 3.6 Pentastar was mostly employed by Chrysler and Dodge, although Jeep also used it in the Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler the next year.
The engine was largely employed as a mid-tier option by Chrysler and Dodge, appearing most frequently in the SE, SEL, SXT, Limited, and Touring trims. The engine produces 283-305 horsepower and 251-269 lb-ft of torque depending on the model. Since its introduction, it has been largely regarded as a tough and dependable engine, and it is being utilised in new vehicles today.
FCA produced an improved version of the 3.6 Pentastar in 2016. This version only produces slightly more power, but it includes numerous internal changes that improve efficiency and longevity. The engine has primarily been employed by FCA in the United States, although it has also made its way to Asia and Europe via the Lancia and Volkswagen brands.
FCA manufactures the 3.6 Pentastar in three major factories, two of which are located in Michigan. The Trenton Engine Complex is located in Trenton, Michigan, while the Mack Avenue Engine Plant is located in Detroit. They are also manufactured in Saltillo, Mexico, at the Saltillo South Engine Plant.
FCA Stellantis has shown no signs of discontinuing manufacture of the engine as of 2023, and it is currently employed in various vehicles for the 2023 model year. Despite the fact that Dodge and others within FCA have been vocal about the transition to electric power trains, the Pentastar has not been retired.
Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Engine Specifications
Applications for Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Vehicles
The Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar engine has been used in the following cars in the United States:
- Chrysler 200 from 2011 to 2017
- Chrysler 300 model years 2011-2023
- Chrysler Town & Country 2011-2016
- Dodge Avenger 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014
- Dodge Challenger 2011-2023
- Dodge Charger model years 2011-2023
- 2011 to 2023 Dodge Durango
- Dodge Grand Caravan 2011-2023
- Dodge Journey 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2023
- Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011-2023
- Ram Cargo Van from 2011 to 2015.
- Volkswagen Routan (2011-2014)
- Wrangler Jeep 2012-2023
- 2012–2023 Ram 1500
- Ram ProMaster from 2013 until 2023
- Chrysler Pacifica 2016-2023
- Chrysler Voyager 2020-2023
- Jeep Gladiator 2020-2023
Design of the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Engine
The Chrysler 3.6 litre Pentastar engine is a V6 engine with an aluminium head and block, according to Stellantis media guide. The cylinders are angled at 60°, and the block is open-deck, deep-skirted, and die-cast. The engine features a structural windage tray that complements the stiffness of the block while also reducing oil splashes on the crankshaft. It also had a structural aluminium oil pan from Chrysler. The cylinder head is made of aluminium and has a composite nylon cover that is curved.
Chrysler also used nylon composite for the intake manifold, which saves weight and aids in low-rumble tuning. To save weight and eliminate parts, the exhaust manifold is incorporated into the cylinder head. The incinerable oil filter is situated at the top of the block for easy access and is designed to prevent oil spillage. The firing order of the engine is 1-2-3-4-5-6.
The piston skirts are polymer-graphite-coated and select-fit. The connecting rods are made of forged steel, and the pistons have oil squirters to keep them cool. Nodular iron is used to make the crankshaft.
Furthermore, the Pentastar’s unique design allows it to fit in almost any powertrain and gearbox setup. It is compatible with FWD, AWD, and RWD drive-systems and can be employed in both longitudinal and transverse orientations. It is also compatible with manual and automatic transmissions ranging from 6 to 9 speeds.
The first series of 3.6 Pentastar engines could run on E85 or petrol. On most models, drivers may even utilise 87 octane without seeing any performance reduction.
The 3.6 Pentastar’s exhaust system is actually built into the cylinder heads. This helps to reduce weight, save money, and has no negative impact on performance.
NVH and Pentastar Engines
Notably, because lowering NVH was a major focus of the design, it incorporates a “silent chain” timing drive. It is particularly successful at reducing sprocket noise and improving sprocket engagement by using reversed teeth. The unconventional design also employs four timing chains. One of them is in charge of the oil pump, while the other three are in charge of the cams.
Almost all accessories are mounted directly to the block, which helps to reduce NVH. This includes the air conditioner compressor and alternator, which contribute to increased rigidity.
The engine has a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) design with four valves per cylinder for a total of 24 valves. It makes use of hydraulic lifters and roller rocker arms. For enhanced fuel economy and power, the engine employs Chrysler’s variable valve timing (VVT).
Pentastar 2016 Updates
Beginning with the 2016 model year, Chrysler made significant changes to the 3.6 Pentastar engine. They improved fuel economy, made peak torque accessible earlier, and provided some vehicles minor horsepower boosts. The VVT system was rebuilt and improved to a “two-speed” system capable of operating in either low-lift or high-lift modes. This improves fuel economy and horsepower/torque.
In addition, Chrysler offered a new intake manifold with larger runners and revised valve timing. They increased compression from 10.3:1 to 11.2:1, resulting in improved fuel economy and performance. All of this was accomplished without adding any weight to the engine, which is already lightweight due to its aluminium block and head. Notably, the second-generation 3.6 Pentastar is no longer flex fuel capable, and can only run on E15 blends in addition to petrol.
The Pentastar Hybrid 3.6
Chrysler released the Pacific Hybrid for the 2017 model year, including a 3.6 Pentastar as part of the drivetrain. This Pentastar model has a greater compression ratio (12.5:1) and operates on an Atkinson combustion cycle. This provides it better gas mileage than other 3.6 Pentastars. A large plug-in lithium-ion battery and dual-electric motors, which may also power the wheels, are connected to the engine.
What is the dependability of the 3.6 Pentastar V6?
The Pentastar engine family is typically regarded as exceptionally dependable. Chrysler has used it in over 20 different models around the world, and the fact that they are refining and upgrading it with improvements indicates that they aim to keep it around for a while.
One guy managed to get 626,000 miles out of his 3.6 Pentastar before it needed to be rebuilt. When the engine was disassembled, the internals showed some wear and tear, but not nearly as much as you’d anticipate from something that old. The plastic chain guides, together with faulty tensionsers, were the only points of failure. The engine had skipped timing but had been performing admirably inside for the most part.
While we are not claiming that every Pentastar 3.6 can achieve that mileage, it is a sign of their durability. These engines can easily travel over 150,000 miles, and 200,000 is not out of the question. Obviously, adequate and timely maintenance is critical, but these engines can take a battering.
Still, there are some faults with the engine, though they are mostly isolated and small.
The Top 5 Most Common Pentastar Issues
We already published a guide on the 4 Most Common Chrysler 3.6L Pentastar Issues. We’ll go through all of these issues here, as well as one more, but if you want more information, check out the guide.
The following are the most prevalent 3.6 Pentastar engine issues:
- Cylinder Heads (2011-2013 only)
- Arms with Rockers
- The Cooling System
- The Oil Pump
- Housing for Oil Filter
The cylinder heads (2011-2013 only), rocker arms, cooling system, oil pump, and oil filter housing are the five most common 3.6 Pentastar engine faults.
The cylinder head issue was limited to early Pentastars and mostly affected the left bank. The valve seats on the second cylinder would overheat and fail prematurely. In 2013, Chrysler corrected this by installing tougher valve guides and increasing warranties to compensate for pricey repairs. These predominantly impacted Jeep Pentastar 3.6L engines.
The rocker arms were the source of the second problem. The issue was that they were collapsing due to missing or damaged needle bearings. Chrysler has since released an upgraded part that is more difficult to collapse.
The radiator and water pump are prone to failure in the cooling system. According to reports, sand deposits can accumulate in the system, causing it to fail prematurely. This will not apply to all climates and regions, but those with a lot of sand (near beaches) should be on the lookout.
Failures of the Pentastar Oiling System
The final two issues are related to the oiling system. First, unexpected pressure loss in the oil pumps might be a major problem at times. Second, the oil filter housing has a history of leaking. Although the incinerable oil filter is designed to prevent this, it has happened to many people.
Most people believe it’s because of the plastic material utilised for the housing, which doesn’t hold up well to frequent heat cycling. The gasket that separates the filter from the aluminium block is what frequently breaks, and there isn’t much you can do about it other than replace it when it fails.
Is the Pentastar trustworthy?
Despite these issues, we believe the 3.6 Pentastar is a very reliable engine. Don’t be fooled by these little difficulties; the Pentastar can travel a long distance with proper maintenance and care. Not every Pentastar engine will meet your expectations, but in most cases, you’ll notice modest repair costs in the long run.
Modifications to the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar Engine
The 3.6 Pentastar isn’t exactly powerful out of the box, but it’s also not anaemic. Depending on the model, FCA rates the Pentastar at 283-305 horsepower and 251-269 lb-ft of torque. While that won’t compete with the considerably larger 5.7 or 6.4 HEMI V8s, it’s a solid number for 2023. If you want to take your Pentastar-powered Avenger, Charger, Challenger, Wrangler, Gladiator, or 300 to the next level, there are plenty of mod upgrades available.
The following are the top five Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar modifications:
- Improved Cold Air Intake
- Exhaust System Upgrade
- Coil Sets
- Induction by Forcing
An improved cold air intake is by far the most frequent and easiest option to add a little bit of power to your 3.6 Pentastar. Because of the manufacturing placement of the intake, the stock airbox is technically a cold air intake, however there are aftermarket solutions. These choices enlarge the filter and eliminate obstruction, allowing for smoother and more efficient air flow.
Upgrading the exhaust is another popular 3.6 Pentastar option. Upgrading the exhaust header(s) is the best solution for most normally aspirated engines. The Pentastar engines, on the other hand, have the exhaust manifold built into the cylinder heads. This implies you can’t replace it and must instead upgrade past the manifold where it connects to the remainder of the exhaust. However, upgrading the factory catalytic converters with high flow cats or a catless exhaust will enhance horsepower and exhaust volume.
Coil packs are another popular upgrade. Coil packs increase horsepower by increasing the energy consumed in the spark. They are often more heat resistant and increase horsepower, gas mileage, and engine responsiveness. One of the most popular Pentastar coil packs on the market is made by RIPP Superchargers.
Pentastar Tuning 3.6
ECU tune and forced induction are by far the finest ways to add a lot of power to your 3.6 Pentastar. ECU tuning is critical since it allows you to get the most out of your other bolt-ons, such as an enhanced intake and/or exhaust. Unfortunately, tuning the Chrysler Pentastars requires an unlocked PCM (powertrain control module), which Chrysler locks from the factory. However, many tuners will include an unlocked PCM with their tune.
The Livernois Motorsports Throttle Enhancer is the finest solution for early Pentastars from 2011 to 2014. While this isn’t a full tune, it does allow for throttle remapping to make it more aggressive. Because these PCMs are more difficult to unlock, a throttle enhancer is usually the simplest choice for improving response, though it will not boost horsepower.
A Livernois Motorsports Custom Tune is available for 3.6 Pentastars manufactured between 2015 and 2022. This tune comes with an unlocked PCM and is CARB approved with a registered EO ID number, making it emissions compliant in all 50 states. Custom tuning is the best way to boost power in your car without requiring hardware changes, and the Livernois tune should result in at least 20 horsepower and torque gains.
Superchargers and turbochargers for the 3.6 Pentastar
Finally, forced induction is the only way to really push your 3.6 Pentastar to the next level. Even with full bolt-ons, the naturally aspirated engine will struggle to add more than 30-40 horsepower. You’ll need supplementary air induction to push your Pentastar above 400 horsepower.
The RIPP Supercharger Kits, which utilise centrifugal superchargers, are the most popular. For good reason, these kits are incredibly popular and well praised in the Pentastar community. They are very well engineered, dependable, and reasonably priced for their quality.
However, turbocharging is an option as well. Actually, Chrysler considered offering single and twin-turbo variants of the 3.6 Pentastar, but the ideas never materialised. Still, the Pentastar has proven to be a good boost performer, and if you want to create more than 500 horsepower, a turbo (or two) is likely a better option than a supercharger on a smaller engine like the 3.6 litre.
Expect to easily create 400 horsepower with a little blower and up to 500-600 horsepower with something larger and running more boost. At that point, you should consider changing additional components like as the pistons and maybe head studs for improved long-block longevity.
Legacy 3.6 Pentastar Engine Chrysler
Overall, the Chrysler 3.6 Pentastar V6 engine is a well-designed piece of machinery. It is dependable, produces adequate horsepower, requires little maintenance and repair, and achieves reasonable fuel economy. There’s a reason FCA has used the 3.6 Pentastar engine in over 20 different vehicles and sold over 10 million of them.
The Pentastar engine had a few frequent issues, but most of them were rectified by the second generation, with the exception of the oil filter housing, which is still just a minor issue. For the most part, the engine is highly reliable and designed for long distances. If you wish to add mods, the Pentastar can certainly handle it. Even if you want to add a large blower on it and get up to 500 horsepower, the Pentastar will gladly oblige.