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Old 05-17-2013, 08:31 AM   #1
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Are the 3.8s really unreliable?

I keep seeing on this forum that everyone should avoid the 3.8 at all costs. I have one but I am now only @ 36K miles. I have had no issues. I drove the 3.6 before buying this one used. I liked the extra power of the 3.6 and now after having the 3.8 I can see the transmission issues on a grade or headwind at speed but...

How many people have had their own 3.8 fail due to something they didnt cause? Are these things failing left and right? OR is it more an underpower issue?

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Old 05-17-2013, 08:33 AM   #2
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My cousin has 120,000+ miles on his with no issues.

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Old 05-17-2013, 08:36 AM   #3
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120,000+ and my only issue i had come up with my 3.8 is a fuel sensor went which made my dash look like christmas. 1 sensor later and no problems!
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:39 AM   #4
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My 07' 3.8 has 87,000 miles on it and has had no issues. It runs great!

I feel the power is good, but have not ever driven in the 3.6. I run a 2.5 lift and 285/70/17's.
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:39 AM   #5
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Actually the 3.8L is a very reliable engine. Chrysler ran the engine for over 20 years for a reason. The only problem with the 3.8L was it was paired with a Automatic transmission that wasn't getting it into the right power band for a heavier JK and especially JKU. Once regeared it solved that issue. Now in 2007, some motors produced in Mexico had a ring issue where they installed the rings improperly but that was a assembly line problem and the engines were recalled. It wasn't a problem with the motor but a production error and was limited to a small number of engines.

I personally know many 3.8L with 250K to 300K on them and were still running great.
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:53 AM   #6
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Some of the people who post that they are unreliable are newer people repeating what they have heard other people say. 200k is nothing for a 3.8, there are lots of them out there that have goten that many miles and more. Yes some of them burn oil and yes they have less power then the 3.6 (an average of around 20hp across the usable rpm range and 80hp at the top of the RPM range).

Its funny no one was bashing on how unreliable the 3.8 was untill there were 3.6 owners who never had a 3.8.

Keep in mind you mostly hear about things going wrong on forums and some people don't realize that so they think that seeing a few post about something going wrong with a motor, tranny, or whatever means they all have the same issue. Of corse anyone who had one fail on them is going to tell you it is junk also.

Just my .02 I am sure someone will be along shortly to tell me how much of an idiot I am.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by KC_Hawker View Post
I keep seeing on this forum that everyone should avoid the 3.8 at all costs. I have one but I am now only @ 36K miles. I have had no issues. I drove the 3.6 before buying this one used. I liked the extra power of the 3.6 and now after having the 3.8 I can see the transmission issues on a grade or headwind at speed but...

How many people have had their own 3.8 fail due to something they didnt cause? Are these things failing left and right? OR is it more an underpower issue?
engine failed on my 2008 3.8L at 54k miles.
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:42 AM   #8
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engine failed on my 2008 3.8L at 54k miles.
What'd you do
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:52 AM   #9
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If it falls under 'Chrysler' then the answer is Yes, it is unreliable.

Here let me help you out:

_______________, produced by Chrysler, is unreliable.

Just fill in the blank!
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Old 05-17-2013, 11:14 AM   #10
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Where'd you hear it was an unreliable engine? It has been used in countless cars/minivans(worst taken care of vehicle) and it is easily a 200k+ engine. I only have 45k (and burning no oil) on my 3.8 so that's not a good indicator but a member here has over 200k and counting.

Most engine failures are due to user error. Letting the oil get too low if it is burning it is a common error
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by legitposter View Post
If it falls under 'Chrysler' then the answer is Yes, it is unreliable.

Here let me help you out:

_______________, produced by Chrysler, is unreliable.

Just fill in the blank!
Soooooo the Cummins which the dodge trucks run are not reliable at all.................


Chrysler has/had a lot of issues and I am by no means a fan of them but not "everything" is junk.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:14 PM   #12
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Soooooo the Cummins which the dodge trucks run are not reliable at all.................


Chrysler has/had a lot of issues and I am by no means a fan of them but not "everything" is junk.
Cummins is not a Chrysler owned/created product.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:42 PM   #13
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I would classify burning massive quantities of oil (as the 3.8 does) as not reliable. The same way i'd classify head problems on the 3.6 as not reliable. Both are issues that owners should not have to think about. Extra parts (including oil) is an additional maintenance cost.

Sure, you can go 200k+ with those issues, but so can every other vehicle nowadays without any drama.

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Old 05-17-2013, 12:46 PM   #14
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I would classify burning massive quantities of oil (as the 3.8 does) as not reliable. The same way i'd classify head problems on the 3.6 as not reliable. Both are issues that owners should not have to think about. Extra parts (including oil) is an additional maintenance cost.
But that would imply that all or most 3.8's burn oil or that all or most pentastars tick when in reality the vast majority don't.

The reason you read about it so much is that ppl log onto forums to solve problems, not to say how their jeeps are normal and don't burn oil or tick
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:50 PM   #15
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Cummins is not a Chrysler owned/created product.
Nope but it is associated to Chrysler wich is what the post I quoted implyed. Dont think am standing up for them, but saying everything associated or produced by someone is junk is piss poor argument why something is not reliable. Hell surely they have one or two good things out of 1000. And the fact remains that the 3.8 is a damned reliable engine. And no I am not saying this just because I have owned two of them amd one of them happens to have 250k on it.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:58 PM   #16
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But that would imply that all or most 3.8's burn oil or that all or most pentastars tick when in reality the vast majority don't.

The reason you read about it so much is that ppl log onto forums to solve problems, not to say how their jeeps are normal and don't burn oil or tick
Good points. But IMHO, most people log into forums because they are vehicle enthusiasts. A few bother to create an account to ask a question and leave. The vast majority of people don't have a clue about their vehicle and probably don't know how to use the internet. That doesn't mean they don't have problems.

The amount of cases you read online is a reasonable indicator that these problems are prevalent across the board. Otherwise, Jeep would not have their legal department make claims about normal oil consumption. Nor would they redesign a part multiple times and struggle to meet a 500/week demand on head replacements if it was not common.

I've read more than enough cases of oil burning and head replacements to be confident (in my mind) that these are issues that speak to the reliability of the engines.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:05 PM   #17
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Good points. But IMHO, most people log into forums because they are vehicle enthusiasts. A few bother to create an account to ask a question and leave. The vast majority of people don't have a clue about their vehicle and probably don't know how to use the internet. That doesn't mean they don't have problems.

The amount of cases you read online is a reasonable indicator that these problems are prevalent across the board. Otherwise, Jeep would not have their legal department make claims about normal oil consumption. Nor would they redesign a part multiple times and struggle to meet a 500/week demand on head replacements if it was not common.

I've read more than enough cases of oil burning and head replacements to be confident (in my mind) that these are issues that speak to the reliability of the engines.
Good point and I see the logic behind your thoughts. Let me ask you this though. Chevy LS motors and the Chevy TBI 350 (one of the most reliable gas motors ever) are prone to burning oil from time to time, does that mean they all are also unreliable?
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:05 PM   #18
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My friend's 3.8 died (threw a bearing) at 50k. He had to spend $4+k on a new engine.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:25 PM   #19
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Good point and I see the logic behind your thoughts. Let me ask you this though. Chevy LS motors and the Chevy TBI 350 (one of the most reliable gas motors ever) are prone to burning oil from time to time, does that mean they all are also unreliable?
I guess it's how you look at it. You make a good point. Most engines used to burn oil. Now most engines do not burn oil. Tolerances are better now. Anything the owner has to do that is beyond normal, for example, topping up oil at every fillup (read - not checking), is not reliable in my mind. It's not necessarily detrimental, but it's something that you shouldn't have to do to keep a modern engine going. If you stop that additional effort, you'll probably end up with a lump of iron with a hole in the side.

Same thing with the 3.6. If you don't replace the heads every 30k, you'll be SOL.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:43 PM   #20
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My friend's 3.8 died (threw a bearing) at 50k. He had to spend $4+k on a new engine.

I know it sounds dramatic to say a motor "threw" something, but unless bearing failure resulted in this, nothing was thrown.
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Old 05-17-2013, 01:48 PM   #21
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But that would imply that all or most 3.8's burn oil or that all or most pentastars tick when in reality the vast majority don't.

The reason you read about it so much is that ppl log onto forums to solve problems, not to say how their jeeps are normal and don't burn oil or tick
X2, Very well said!
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:02 PM   #22
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Wrangler engines, are they reliable?
The word reliable is in the eye of the beholder! Different opinions as to what justifies acceptable reliability.

4.0 in the TJ is the best of the best, just a great durable engine! A opinion.
3.8 in the JK/JKU, proven to be a good engine, but underpowered and some burn oil. A opinion.
3.6 in the JK/JKU, the verdict is still out............No opinion at this time!
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:10 PM   #23
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My friend's 3.8 died (threw a bearing) at 50k. He had to spend $4+k on a new engine.
Statements like this is also something we have to think about also...

Say you have 1000 people with any kind of product and 1 of them had one of said product fail. Now lets say this 1 person is acquainted with 100 of the 1000 people that have the same product.

If we where to poll all 1000 people odds are we would have close to 100 people that said they didn't like it because they knew someone who had one that failed. Then you have people who knew the guy who knew the guy who knew the guy that had a failer,this could lead to 400 or 500 bad reviews easy. Of course these are all made up numbers but to me I think this mind set explains the clames of failers for any product that are blow out of proportion on forums.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:15 PM   #24
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Personal experiences can be in favor or against about anything. In general, with my experience my 3.8 has been awesome. Zero problems. Keep in mind it is mechanical and man made and can eventually fail like any motor.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:19 PM   #25
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on another note..... if mine ever fails, Im lining up a 5.3 chevy conversion.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:20 PM   #26
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Wrangler engines, are they reliable?
The word reliable is in the eye of the beholder! Different opinions as to what justifies acceptable reliability.

4.0 in the TJ is the best of the best, just a great durable engine! A opinion.
3.8 in the JK/JKU, proven to be a good engine, but underpowered and some burn oil. A opinion.
3.6 in the JK/JKU, the verdict is still out............No opinion at this time!
Actually the 4.0 and the 3.8 had very similar numbers. They just put the 3.8 in a heavier vehicle especially the JKU with a bad transmission/gearing combo. If you put a 3.8 in a TJ with a TJ transmission you probably wouldn't notice the difference. And the 3.8 was a very durable engine.
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Old 05-17-2013, 02:29 PM   #27
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on another note..... if mine ever fails, Im lining up a 5.3 chevy conversion.
I heard that. And I am doing a 6.0 one day. We just put a 6.0 in my best friends buggy. Put a Mast Motor Sports cam, one piece push rods, and swaped springs. Also using the Mast tune and ECMU(lucky for us they are right down the street). The motor cost 1300 bucks and came from a wrecked 09 2500 with 8500 miles on it and is now puting out close to 500hp. The whole build was 9 grand with a new slightly built tranny and drive line mods.

HAHA. Not sure how reliably it is yet though.
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:06 PM   #28
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I guess it's how you look at it. You make a good point. Most engines used to burn oil. Now most engines do not burn oil. Tolerances are better now. Anything the owner has to do that is beyond normal, for example, topping up oil at every fillup (read - not checking), is not reliable in my mind. It's not necessarily detrimental, but it's something that you shouldn't have to do to keep a modern engine going. If you stop that additional effort, you'll probably end up with a lump of iron with a hole in the side.

Same thing with the 3.6. If you don't replace the heads every 30k, you'll be SOL.
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I understand what you're saying, and I see your point but...

The degree at which engines burn oil is what matters ALL(read all) engines burn at least a little oil in the winter(real winters with white stuff) because with the heating/ cooling and expanding and contracting you get little gaps that a tiny bit of oil squeaks thru and burns. It's usually only the first few revs but it adds up over time.

The distance from the top of the save zone to the bottom on the dipstick is about a qt on the 3.8. So burning 1/2 a qt per oil change is still in the safe zone and wouldn't be detrimental. You'd have to burn over a qt for it to leave the safe zone.

Now if someone says they burn 3/4 qt per oil change is that really bad? They'd never have to add oil. I'd consider everything up to and including 1qt per 5-6000 miles essentially not burning oil. I do a few ounces because I like it topped off to dilute any dirtiness but even if I didn't, I'd be in the safe zone
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:16 PM   #29
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Saying that "all" 3.8s are unreliable because they are from Chrysler is equivalent to saying that since there are bad people out there our maker is unreliable. You can't lump all of 1 product in the junk category because there are issues, there will be various issues with any product, especially ones as complex as a vehicle. But that's just my .02
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:56 PM   #30
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3.8's are great...had 70,000 trouble free on mine...no oil issues either..

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