" 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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9 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
  • 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

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