Is the 3.6 Pentastar a Good Engine?


The 3.6 Pentastar is an upgrade from the previous 3.5-liter V-6. Introduced in 2011, the Pentastar has been used on many Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler vehicles and it produces 38% more horsepower and consumes 11% less fuel. It also weighs 42 lbs less than its 3.5-liter predecessor.

Is the 3.6 Pentastar a Good Engine?

The 3.6 Pentastar is an impressive and reliable engine. The 3.6 Pentastar has an impeccable record of being durable and capable. With new upgrades, the 3.6 Pentastar is ready to meet the new EPA regulations and will continue dominating the market decades to come.

3.6 Pentastar Engine Design

The 3.6 Pentastar engine features a high-pressure die-cast aluminum cylinder block. Aluminum is used because it withstands high temperature and stresses developed during combustion. The cylinder block is also lighter and dissipates heat quickly. Its 60-degree V-angle design allows the cylinder block to occupy less space under the hood creating more space to install other vehicle parts. The cylinder liner features cast iron coatings to enhance durability.

The engine block cooling system features three-piston oil cooler jets. Each piston cools two cylinders, uniformly cooling the engine block preventing detonation and engine overheating. The 3.6 Pentastar also features a ductile iron crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods, and cast aluminum pistons. The pistons are fitted with low-friction rings to reduce friction, wear and tear.

The engine uses a timing chain. It is fitted with a vane-type oil pump that effectively distributes oil throughout the engine. Mounted on the engine block are the compressor, alternator, air conditioner compressor, and belt tensioner. These components are all driven by a single belt. They are arranged to minimize noise and vibration.

The cylinder head is made of sand-cast T7 heat-treated aluminum. Each cylinder consists of 4 valves. 

The 3.6 Pentastar features two camshafts on one axis. One is the inlet camshaft, while the other is an exhaust camshaft. The camshafts are driven by a silent timing chain. The four camshafts are equipped with torque actuated phasers, a new cam technology that rotates relative to the timing chain.

This technology ensures reduced emissions and increased fuel economy. The intake valve is 39mm in diameter, while the exhaust valve diameter is 30 mm. The intake camshafts are made of forged martensitic steel, while the exhaust camshafts feature forged austenitic head welded to a heat-treated stem.

How Much Power and Torque Does the 3.6 Pentastar Produce?

The 3.6 Pentastar engine delivers 305 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque in the Dodge challenger, while in the Ram, it produces 305 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The Pentastar also delivers 90% of its torque at low RPMs (1800-6350 RPMs). This allows the engine to produce high acceleration and power without requiring high octane gasoline.

What are the Advantages of the 3.6 Pentastar over its 3.5-liter predecessor?

High Efficiency

The 3.6 Pentastar is a very efficient engine. Despite being naturally aspirated, the Pentastar can produce 305 hp and 370 lb-ft of torque. The Pentastar also delivers almost 90 % of torque at very low RPMs, ranging from 1800 RPMs to 6350 RPMs.

This due to the intake manifold new design that allows more air into the combustion chamber. The Variable Valve Timing (VVT) has been recalibrated to help deliver more torque at lower RPMs. The torque has increased by 15% from its 3.5-liter predecessor. The updated VVT also enhances the use of automatic stop-start.

Improved Fuel Economy

The 3.6 Pentastar is one of the most fuel-efficient engines in the American market. Fuel economy has increased by 6% from its predecessor thanks to the new Variable Valve Lift (VVL) and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).

The 3.6 Pentastar is equipped with a two-step Variable Valve lift actuated by oil pressure regulated by solenoid valves. 

One solenoid is mounted on the front, which actuates the first cylinder intake valve. The other is mounted at the rear for the second and third intake.

During acceleration, the solenoid valves open, oil flows out at high pressures pushing the lock pin. The lock pin then releases the high-lift follower section. As it pivots down, the roller follower will run on low-valve-lift cam lobes allowing the engine to maintain a 2800 rpm switchover point. This reduces pumping power, improves combustion, and enhance fuel economy by 2.7%.

The Pentastar is also equipped with a liquid-cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The exhaust gases are cooled from 6500 C to 1300 C before being pumped back into the combustion chamber. Unburnt fuel and NOx are completely combusted. This improves fuel economy by 0.8% and significantly reduces emissions.

Reduced Emission of NOx and CO

The 3.6 Pentastar is equipped with various emission reduction system that significantly reduces the release of harmful gases. The Exhaust Gas Recirculation system (EGR) directs a portion of exhaust gases back into the cylinder. This helps combust unburnt gases and NOx, thereby reducing emission. The Variable Valve timing technology also enhances complete and efficient combustion reducing the emission of CO.

Reduced Weight

The 3.6 Pentastar is 42 lbs lighter and smaller than its 3.5-liter predecessor, thanks to the utilization of lightweight but strong material. The Pentastar features a cast aluminum cylinder head and pistons, aluminum cylinder block, and austenitic crankshaft. These aluminum parts are lighter in weight. 

The manufacture of the 3.6 Pentastar uses fewer materials compared to the 3.5 Pentastar.

How Many Miles Can You Put on a 3.6 Pentastar?

 The 3.6 Pentastar is a very durable engine. Under normal driving conditions and proper maintenance, the 3.6 Pentastar can last up to 150K miles. But some parts tend to wear out faster and causes a lot of problem as the engine ages. These include the thermostat housing, water pump housing, oil filter housing, and radiator tanks.

Does the 3.6 Pentastar Use a Timing Chain or Belt?

The 3.6 Pentastar is equipped with a Timing chain that features a silent chain link design. This feature allows it to run smoothly, noiseless, and with minimal vibrations. The timing drive uses a total of four timing chains. The timing chain may last as much as the engine, but it is always advisable to replace them after 120,000 miles. A defective timing chain would produce a lot of noise and vibrations. It is essential to replace your chain before it breaks since it may cause permanent damage.

How to Get More Power Out of a 3.6 Pentastar

There are several upgrades that you can do to get more power out of your 3.6 Pentastar.

Upgrading Your Cold Air Intake

Upgrading your cold air intake with performance-oriented aftermarket models wound increase power output. Some Cold air intakes increase horsepower by up to 5%. High-performance cold air intakes also improve fuel economy.

Catback Exhaust System

Changing your muffler or replacing the whole exhaust system with high-performance aftermarket brands may significantly improve your HP and fuel economy. An exhaust system with a larger diameter outlet reduces backpressure, thereby increasing horsepower and improves fuel economy. A dyno-tuned exhaust system will produce a pleasant sound.

Ignition Coils

Replacing your OEM ignition coils with high-output ones will significantly improve your 3.6 Pentastar performance and fuel economy.

Installing a Supercharger

This upgrade is not always recommended as it would shorten your engine life. However, installing a supercharger will not only increase your horsepower output, but it will also reduce fuel economy numbers. You must know how much power a 3.6 Pentastar can handle before boosting your engine.

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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