Some V6 Ram 1500s May Have Cracked Heads – Growth, Quality Concerns Arise Again

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Ram’s solid sales growth seems to come at the price of quality, as we’re once again hearing about a major build issue with one of Ram’s products. This time, it’s that a limited number of V6 engines may have cracked heads. The question is, are problems like cracked heads (and various recall items over the last 3 years) caused by Ram’s rapid growth, or are they a continuation of Chrysler’s long history of reliability problems? What’s more, with Fiat-Chrylser’s ambitious plans for more rapid growth, is it reasonable to anticipate more problems just like this one?

Some V6 Ram 1500s May Have Cracked Heads - Growth, Quality Concerns Arise Again

Certain Chrysler Pentastar engines may have a left cylinder head flaw.

An story says Chrysler is extending the warranty on approximately 7,500 engines (not verified by Chrysler) that are susceptible to left cylinder head cracking. The warranty will cover the left side cylinder heads to 10 years or 150,000 miles while the rest of the powertrain will remain at 5 years/100,000 mile warranty.

Customer Complaints Trigger Investigation

The story goes Chrysler became aware of the problem in 2012 after customers reported hearing a “ticking sound” or stalling followed by an illuminated check engine light. At the time, Doug Betts, the head of Chrysler’s quality department, said the problem affected “half of 1 percent of vehicles with the Pentastar engine,” according to

Officially, Chrysler says they investigated the problem for months before coming to the conclusion of an unusual combination of factors including low-quality fuel and certain driving conditions can cause the problem.

“A small percentage of these 2011-2013 model year engines may be susceptible to an engine misfire which is caused by a combination of rarely occurring factors, including drive cycle and fuel quality,” Chrysler wrote in a statement last week announcing the extended warranty. “The issue does not disable the engine. Dealers will replace the left cylinder head with a new part with a minor design modification.”

Pentastar Engine – Big Part of Chrsyler’s Engine Offerings

While this is a very, very small amount of engines, it is concerning since the Pentastar engine is the main engine used throughout Chrysler’s lineup. While many Ram trucks are built with the Hemi, there are plenty that have the Pentastar V-6. It is unknown exactly how many Ram trucks have the Pentastar engine.

Also, the Pentastar engine lineup is really new with its introduction taking place at the 2009 New York Auto Show. It made its debut in 2011 model-year Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Fiat also now uses it in their larger models.

With such a young engine, it’s long-term reliability is a big unknown. And being the engine is the largest expense item to repair, its reliability is a big concern for consumers.

While Chrysler has historically had quality concerns, we have been told time and time again that those issues are in the past. Yet, it is hard not to wonder about quality concerns with Ram’s and Chrysler’s rapid growth over the years.

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  1. LJC says:

    I wonder if the problem is related to cooling.
    Check out this video

    Fast forward to the 8 minute mark and keep a close eye on the coolant temp gauge.

    • smokey says:

      1/4 mile acceleration tests with a 5000 pound boat in tow? Wouldn’t we expect heat to generated in the engine? A lot of fuel is being burned to get 10000 pounds up to speed like that. They cylinder head temps would go up for sure. I wonder if the exhaust valves were glowing?

      In relation to a small high power V6, I would expect this type of use to lead to a short engine life. I bet the Ecoboost V6 wouldn’t last 60,000 miles doing this kind of stuff.

      • LJC says:

        Yes, it would generate heat, but it should be able to keep the coolant temp and others in check. That short run is not even close in comparison to the J2807 standard (Davis Dam, 11 mile run during 100 degree outside temp with AC on full and maintain 40 MPH).

        I don’t buy the “poor fuel” reason a bit. There’s a defect somewhere and I wonder if the weak cooling system is related.

  2. Randy says:

    Oh Wow, about the time I thought I was going to sell the Tundra and go to RAM Laramie Longhorn Pentastar, that killed it.

    The explanation that Chrysler gave for this are worthless; their reputation precedes anything they can say. Essentially the exact same statements Ford has given for the EcoBoost; worthless. It is sort of like: “If you drive like a ‘normal’ person in the ‘rain’ your engine will ‘fail’…..and we cannot fix it”.

    Now if RAM really does step up to the plate and cover ALL Pentastar RAM’s from ANY cylinder block issues for 10 years or 150,000 miles; then that is 1000% better than Ford which has done “nothing” for the owners of the 2011-2014 EcoBoost.

    Tim, like you said “how many RAM’s has this affected?” Is the increase load of a truck increasing the failure rate for RAM trucks? Does this problem even affect RAM trucks? The public should know.

  3. Larry says:

    I put in a lot of time learning about the pentastar V6 when it came time to replace my T100. 3 things caused me to back away from the RAM 1500. First, the 8 speed auto trans. It might be great but I need to see a track record in a truck. 2 – coil springs at the rear. Just don’t know about that idea. 3 – the engine, it is big enough for my needs but, I question the cylinder/head surface interface. The open deck design as they call it. Go to the following web site and look at the engine block image.

    Will this work long term? What I see is a high risk of head gasket failure and leaks. It’s not a new design but this is a new implementation. Chain driven double overhead cam, a 2 chain system with electric actuators for the phasing. Time will tell. Again I am not willing to take the risk when I know the history of Toyota V6 through their V8 engines which is positive.

    MPG ratings aren’t everything. One engine problem on something this complex and all fuel savings go down the drain.

  4. Goldie says:

    The “low-quality fuel” explanation from Chrysler is BS. Edmunds had the same problem on their long-term 2012 Jeep Wrangler and they only use top tier fuel.

    Also, if any engine can’t tolerate lower quality fuel, than it is not a robust design. The design specs of the Pentastar looks very similar to Toyota’s 1gr-fe (die cast open deck block, DOHC, VVT, etc). However, the 1gr-fe came out almost 9 years before the Pentastar. It took Chrysler nine years to catch up to Toyota and they still can’t get it right. Hmmmm.

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