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The Pitfalls Of A 3.6L Pentastar Engine

Discussion in 'Wrangler JK' started by Pam, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. Pam

    Pam Administrator
    Staff Member

    Jun 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    When the Jeep Wrangler JK left the drawing board, it became the first true MOPAR Jeep. This was the first time the Jeep platform was completely redesigned since the CJ-5 in the mid-1950’s. The JK was larger and much more refined than its predecessors. By this time, the new minds at Jeep decided that the popular 4x4 had to become more civilized and marketable to the masses. With this came hard numbers, like fuel economy, which spelled the death of the old bulletproof Inline-6. A new engine was needed for this iconic 4x4.

    Fuel economy and the older Jeeps didn’t go together. In a sense, they still don’t. But in recent years they’ve grown closer. Chrysler replaced the much-loved Inline-6 with the 3.8L V6 in 2007, with the debut of the Wrangler JK. This engine was supposed to provide a more economical power plant for the first MOPAR Wrangler. However, it ranked sub-par due to many units failing, burning oil, or succumbing to other internal problems, especially with high mileage or hard off-road use.

    As a result, Chrysler found a replacement. The new 3.6L Pentastar Engine was first seen on the 2012 Jeep Wrangler. The 3.6L V6 produces 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the 2-door model is advertised at 17mpg city and 21mpg highway.

    These numbers may meet modern MPG standards and give consumers the more gas-friendly engine they want. But the 3.6L just doesn’t feature the low-end torque found in the old Inline engines or a V8. The V6 is just that -- a commuter car engine. It really bogs down with bigger tires, bumpers, bead-lock wheels, a roof rack, and other heavy accessories. Acceleration and top-end speed will suffer. So you have three options: re-gear, upgrade, or replace.

    Re-gearing is straightforward, so we’ll cover upgrading or replacing the engine here. You can add either turbo or superchargers to the 3.6L. While many swear by them, they can be a bit finicky, especially with an automatic transmission. So it’s important to get the proper tune. If you’re looking for around 80-100 HP and 40-60 lb-ft torque gains using your stock engine, this upgrade is for you. There are many aftermarket companies that make these kits for the Wrangler JK. We prefer Magnuson, RIPP, or Sprintex!

    However, if the thought even crossed your mind that a turbo might not cut it, we encourage you to consider a V8 swap. A HEMI swap will produce more power and low-end torque than a supercharged V6 -- without adding a belt-driven system to your engine, or custom tuning required by a turbo/supercharger. The V8 is a go-to classic, and for good reason. The V8 works, and it works well. If you’re going to upgrade your engine, why not drop in the V8 you’ve always wanted?

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