" Once you hear it you can't unhear it "

The dreaded Pentastar tick makes a ruthless return

In late February 2017, I parked my Jeep at the dealer’s lot for the second time in three months. The tick, tick, tick of my Wrangler’s ill-fated Pentastar was back and louder than ever.

Earlier in the week, I’d felt the engine shudder and heard the faint but familiar ticking fill the cabin. The dreaded Pentastar tick was back. It’s a sound many Fiat-Chrysler owners have come to dread.

I’d had the Jeep in for the same problem back in December 2016. I’d thought the new set of valve lashes and a new rear-main seal would be the end of my trouble. I guess I was wrong.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include additional information and resources regarding the “Pentastar Tick”

What is the “Pentastar tick?”

The “Pentastar tick”, as it’s come to be known, refers to a loud ticking or tocking sound originating from the left side of 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engines produced between 2011 and early 2013.

I experienced this as a loud hollow knocking sound that resonated from the left side of my engine.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar is Fiat-Chrysler’s flagship V6 and can be found under the hoods of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Charger, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Ram 1500 and Promaster cargo vans.

According to Automotive News, Chrysler discovered the issue in 2012 after customers began complaining about a ticking sound accompanied by a check-engine light. Chrysler found the left cylinder heads on roughly 7,500 engines were prone to failure due to excessive wear and could result in misfires. Shortly after this discovery, a revised cylinder head was put into production.

Chrysler has also extended the warranty of 2011-2013 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engines to cover the left-cylinder head for 10 years or 150,000 miles. All other engine components remain covered under the factory five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

Is that ticking I hear? What to do if you suspect you have the “Pentastar tick”

If you own a 2011-2013 Fiat-Chrysler vehicle equipped with a Pentastar V6 and you suspect you may be affected, contact your local dealer to set up a service appointment.

That being said, the “Pentastar tick” described above should not be confused for the subtle, rapid-paced, ticking associated with the valve-train. The Pentastar features overhead cams, and some noise is normal and to be expected, especially during a cold start.

If you own a 2014 or later vehicle with a Pentastar engine, your vehicle should be equipped with the revised cylinder head. However, if your vehicle does exhibit loud or excessive ticking or other noises contact your local dealer to set up a service appointment.

My story:

After handing my last service record over to a very pleasant and sympathetic technician, I was given a ride to work.

By noon I had a prognosis… sort of. I got a call letting me know that Chrysler had authorized them to replace the cam-shaft bearings. Unconvinced this was the problem, I pressed further. I told the technician that I was surprised they weren’t looking at the head itself given characteristic tick and the known issue with the heads on this particular engine.

To the technician’s credit, he admitted that Chrysler likes to escalate repairs until they get resolved. He said there was a good chance they’d end up replacing the whole cylinder head if the cam-shaft bearings weren’t the culprit.

I suppose It made sense to eliminate all possible causes of the noise before jumping to the most costly option. I was provided loaner vehicle, a 2017 Cherokee Latitude, until the repairs were completed.

Updates:

Update 1: (Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017)  After a week at the dealership, the tick persists. It was not the camshaft bearing as the dealership had suspected. They did, however, discover a leak in the rear main seal which was repaired.

Update 2: (Friday, Feb. 17, 2017)  The dealership found the right head valve lashes and rocker arms were worn and should be replaced.

Update 3: Damage to the number four-cylinder wall was found, a new engine was put on order.

Update 4: The Jeep is back with an all-new engine.

As it turned out, the head wasn’t the only thing that would end up getting replaced. By the end of the repairs, I had a shiny new engine sitting under my hood.

Loaner Cherokee while Wranger undergoes repairs for the Pentastar tick.

Further reading

Please comment and share

So tell us in the comments section:

  • Have you had the Pentastar tick?
  • Have you had any trouble with the 3.6L Pentastar?
  • What has your experience been with warranty repairs?

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27 Comments

  • Customs -N- Classics

    I am sorry for your service issues, hope they are taken care of in this round so you don’t have to go through this again. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the 2017 Cherokee.

    February 9, 2017 - 9:14 am Reply
    • tobiasmann

      Thanks! I hope so too. I think I’d prefer to have it take a little longer and they get it right rather than getting it back still unresolved.

      February 9, 2017 - 9:19 am Reply
    • Brian Horn

      My 2012 3.6 jeep wrangler is starting the famous ticking sounds for it’s 3rd time. 1st at 95000 mi, 2nd at 128000 mi, and now at 186000 mi.
      I love this jeep, but this is getting old. I kinda wish it would just blow up so I could put a new warranty Jasper engine in it.

      October 27, 2019 - 1:11 pm Reply
  • Cary

    I’m sorry you’re battling this. My first car, a ’92 Chevy Beretta, lived at the dealer during its warranty period and at other mechanics thereafter. May you have better luck than I!

    I, too, look forward to a report on the KL Cherokee. While I’m not a fan of either its design or the not-easily modified suspension, I know a number of owners and renters who were most impressed by it.

    February 9, 2017 - 2:08 pm Reply
  • Kerry Lloyd

    I have the 3.6 in my 2012 T&C. Just got it back from the dealer today total cost $1,500 had to replace both Cams & rocker arms. While I had it there they also change the spark plugs and did a flash on the transmission runs like brand-new now still should not have had to spend that much money on a five-year-old vehicle. No more Chryslers for me.

    November 21, 2017 - 7:03 pm Reply
    • tobiasmann

      Kerry, sorry to hear about your trouble. The cams and rocker arms were the first repair the dealer made on my Jeep back in December 2016. Fixed the tick tock for a while but by Feb it was really loud. Turns out my block was scored all to hell and the whole engine was replaced under warranty. I’ve posted links to my full story in this post. From what I’ve heard, the 2012 Pentastars all have a flawed head design that results in the ticking sound, but mine seems more likely to have been the result of neglect by the previous owner. You might call Chrysler and see what they tell you. Who knows they might reimburse you or something like that.

      November 22, 2017 - 11:48 am Reply
  • Michael Anthony

    Did you get charged a deductible for the work under warranty?

    February 21, 2018 - 11:12 pm Reply
    • tobiasmann

      Nope, no deductible. The work was completed under the factory warranty. I do have a 10 year service contract that covers the power train, which does have a $200 deductibles, but that is not a warranty legally speaking.

      February 21, 2018 - 11:15 pm Reply
  • Joseph T Arteno

    I’ve got a ’13 Avenger with the Pentastar 3.6L. She just hit 103k and started ticking. Spent most of yesterday afternoon tearing her down and found one of my #5 exhaust valve rockers extremely worn. My new rocker will be here in a few days and was only about $8(plus $11.87 shipping). I wish that Dodge/Chrysler would have notified owners of the extended warranty coverage for this issue and I will be definately sharing your story along with the updated warranty info with my friends. Glad to hear that they got you all fixed up, hopefully it’s smooth sailing from here on.

    March 4, 2018 - 6:43 am Reply
    • tobiasmann

      Sorry to hear you got that far along before learning about the extended warranty on the left head. I hope all this means you’ll be smooth sailing before long. Are you doing the work yourself or having a shop do it? Maybe you could get Chrysler to reimburse you. Let me know how your rebuild goes.

      March 4, 2018 - 10:04 am Reply
  • Andreas

    You have mentioned ‘camshaft bearing’ and ‘cylinder wall damage’. To keep it short, I would caution to take such dealerships statements as facts. You got a new engine out of the story, which is great!

    May 16, 2018 - 11:08 am Reply
  • Alex

    I’ve had the same thing happen to my Chrysler 200C 3.6. 400kms.over warranty. Dealer refused goodwill on it. Talked to corporate and it’s being reviewed. Issue returned after a week. Bringing it in tomorrow .

    Never missed an oil change and had the engine flushed .Provided them with the oil records too. Changed the air filter every 30k kms. Messed up.

    October 4, 2018 - 8:27 pm Reply
  • Brian Hall

    I am experiencing the same issues with my 2012 Town and Country. My cams, rocker arms and lifters were all replaced @ 54,600 miles under warranty and now @ 84,000 miles the same issue has arisen again. I am livid as this is a known issue and obvious part(s) or engine defect. I wish an investigative reporter(s) would get issues like this out to all FCA owners and hold vehicle manufacturers responsible for known defects. This too will be my last Chrysler. Too bad as the van, otherwise, has been useful for our family needs.

    October 22, 2018 - 12:44 pm Reply
    • herb

      same problem with 2012 T&C tick and Engine light soon after i bought the car. Replaced head in a few thousand miles same problem. Replaced cam shafts. Have 135000 mile now and the engine check light will stay on a week and go off a week. Once the dealer said it was the thermostat $200 later it wasnt. The extended warranty is no good because they have to open the engine up and if they say that isnt the problem you pay!

      October 2, 2019 - 3:28 pm Reply
  • Nathan Beach

    I have the ticking sound in my 2012 Chrysler 300. Just want to clarify, when you say left side of the engine, do you mean the drivers side? So standing in front of the vehicle looking at the engine, it is actually the right side? Thanks for your help!

    January 22, 2019 - 7:59 pm Reply
  • Mikal RObins

    Having issues with 2017 promaster van, first was loss of power and trouble with a cylinder leaking out antifreeze at 55k miles, they said it was fixed under warranty. At 86k the dreaded tick began and looking at $3500 repairs to heads. Trying to get exact details, but seems like these are interconnected problems and if it was bad rocker arms, should have checked them all when doing other cylinder work? Should this be covered as same issues, just different times if it was the same head?

    January 27, 2019 - 8:05 pm Reply
  • Michael Sweeney Media

    Yep.. just got the diagnosis on my 2015 Chrysler T&C V6 of the same thing.. first is was rockers then they called and said the main bearings were trashed and they were ordering a new engine on their time.. ETA is 3 weeks but they did give me a rental without any complaints. New engine at 60K miles.. hard to believe .. the tech thinks the only thing that kept it together this long was I had always used synthetic oil.

    February 8, 2019 - 10:49 pm Reply
  • Jason

    I’ve had a very negative experience with my first ram truck purchased second hand. My only reason to not go with diesel was going for turn key ready and what I thought was a reliable platform with the pentastar. Less off a year of owning and under 90k on the clock. I have a short commute to work and had a check engine misfire one day. Without anytime to look further into it, dropped off to closet dealer. To where the more they tore into the root cause the more damage was found. Which was originally a price quote of 600 turned into replacement of engine with a whopping 9k! Bill. I was outraged. Because something that was a factory error cost me and my wife’s life savings and having to take money out of retirement. Very disappointed in how it was handled and outraged of what this represents the company as a whole.

    March 3, 2019 - 7:07 pm Reply
  • Melissa

    We have a 2015 Ram Promaster with the 3.6l Pentastar with the dreaded tick. Had lifters rocker arms camshafts replaced in January 2019, then oil pressure sensor switch replaced in January 2019, then oil pump replaced March 2019 and now engine light on again! This vehicle is a completer POS! It has thrown code after code since November 2018. Code P0300, P06DD, P0302 and the service center has ignored every code we have given them because the codes did not show up in their code reader. Nor did they drive the vehicle to attempt to get the engine to code. We have to carry a code reader in our vehicle because it throws a code daily. We use it for route delivery/pickup and unfortunately it has been completely unreliable and out of service since January.

    April 2, 2019 - 2:08 pm Reply
  • C C

    I have a 2014 Durango 3.6 with 114,000 miles. My Durango had been flawless until a few weeks ago when she started displaying a check engine light. Fast forward to now and she is in the shop getting a cylinder head replacement on the RIGHT side. The internet info that 14+ MYs have better heads isn’t completely accurate. There are obliviously 2014MYs out there, like mine, that are still prone to failure. And it can occur on the right side. I run synthetic oil and quality oil filters with a 6.5k oci and still had a failure.

    May 10, 2019 - 10:04 am Reply
  • Norm H

    2014 JKU just 7 months out of warranty and 58K … 12 rocker arms and 1 cam. FCA said no on any help. And before this, it was the oil cooler which was covered under warranty. 47 years old, this is the only vehicle I’ve owned with such major issues at such low mileage. Sad folks, but I’d recommend staying away from the pentastar motor and for that matter, FCA as well. That is a poor quality product IMHO.

    May 20, 2019 - 1:43 pm Reply
  • John Maloney

    I had the same problem with my 2011 Grand Caravan. Heard the ticking over a year ago. Pulled the rear valve cover off. Ended up replacing one bad rocker on the exhaust. Luckily no damage to the cam.

    Current – hearing the ticking again. really! I finally got around to pulling the rear valve cover off again. Sure enough two more rockers are loose. This time on the intake side. One was so bad, the bearing was way offset and the rocker was gouging the lobe of the cam. Great now I have to buy a new cam. This is definitely a problem which Chrysler knows about. I’ll get it back together because that’s what I do. But this will be the last Chrysler product I buy.

    Interesting enough, both of my issues were on the right side bank. All the searching I’ve done on this issue, not once have I seen an issue with the Left side bank.

    July 14, 2019 - 9:52 pm Reply
  • m.miller

    2013 dodge journey just turned over 100.000 and the tocking sound is more pronounced , sometimes worse then others , will be checking in with my local dealer to see if they know anything about an extended warranty

    July 24, 2019 - 8:24 pm Reply
    • John Maloney

      Once you hear the ticking you have to get to it immediately before the worn rocker starts gouging the cam lobe. Then you’re into greater expenses.

      John

      October 28, 2019 - 11:14 am Reply
  • Steve Snyder

    Chrysler KNOWS there is an ongoing issue with #2 cylinder misfire in the 3.6 Liter Pentastar engines due to a faulty cylinder head design. Although they only recalled through 2013, the problem still persists. We have a 2014 Town and country with 104k miles. No engine light, just a stored #2 misfire code and strange hesitation at low speed. Just over $2000 later at our local Chrysler Dealership, it is fixed, yet Chrysler has denied our request for reimbursement. It is my opinion that a class action lawsuit needs to be filed. Does anyone think that Chrysler might have ILLEGALLY de-sensitized the engine software so that this misfire code does not allow the check engine light to come on as frequently. (Kind of like Volkswagen and their famous diesel disaster!) Makes you wonder…..

    October 11, 2019 - 9:12 am Reply
  • J Buelman

    2015 JKU with 75K. Noticed ticking on the driver’s side valve cover. Sure enough, after I removed the intake plenum and the valve cover, I found a loose cam follower. The bearings went out making the roller loose. I got it before it started to eat a cam lobe. The rest of the cam followers were tight so I left them alone and replaced the bad one. If it happens again, I’ll replace the entire lot of them. It’s a pain to replace the ones close to the timing chain, but it’s possible. Not a difficult fix, but it’s time consuming and if left alone will require the cams to be replaced and that one I wish on nobody. The engine looked very clean under the valve cover. I use Mobil 1 synthetic 5W-20 high mileage and change it every 5K.

    October 19, 2019 - 6:25 pm Reply
  • John Gelzer

    My 2014 Ram C/V is in the shop at this time with the cylinder head issue. The cylinder head will be replaced, but there are no cylinder heads available for 6 weeks. The van sets in the shop disassembled while we wait on a replacement cylinder head.

    October 27, 2019 - 5:05 am Reply

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