Is the Chrysler 3.5 engine any good?

A friend is thinking about getting a new 300, most likely with the 3.5 engine. From reading magazines over the years, I know that this engine is "nothing special." At least is doesn't win the awards and high praise that certain Honda and Nissan bent sixes receive. My friend doesn't care much about having the world's best V-6, but is concerned about service life and general reliability. How is the 3.5 in this regard? Are there any specific issues, like valve gear, bearings, accessories, sludging, or anything else of significance?

TIA for any info from those who work on, or own high mileage 3.5's.

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On Thu, 24 Jun 2004 20:29:09 -0400, kokomoNOSPAMkid wrote:

I have a 10 year old Concord with the 3.5, I have a 119,000 miles on it. The head gasket was replaced once around 50,000 but no problems since then.

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Those same magazines who are telling you that the 3.5L is nothing special are the ones that were singing its praises 3 years ago. If you happened to read that opinion in Automobile magazine, I would take it with a very large grain of salt, as I do with *most* of what they say.

The 3.5L is a durable, well-designed engine. If it has not undergone major changes, it is the same one that was placed in 2nd generation LH cars beginning in 1999 for the 300M, and as a premium engine in the other LH cars. Although all engines can sometimes fail prematurely, the 3.5L doesn't have a track record of doing so. It is equipped with a coil-over-sparkplug ignition system that is very reliable and essentially maintenance-free.

For its displacement, it is a very powerful engine, and it yields more than 1HP/cubic inch, which is something that the magazine guys normally get all excited over. Unfortunately, it is overwhelmed by the great bulk of a Pacifica, an extremely overweight vehicle, as many engines of larger displacement also would be. My understanding is that it performs quite acceptably in a 300.

Personally, I have a 3.2L engine, which is a close cousin to the 3.5L, sharing many aspects of the design. It has been a remarkably trouble free engine, smooth and powerful for its size, and reasonably economical. Mine has 95,000 miles on it, and has no odd noises, leaks of any kind, or performance/starting issues. So far, I've replaced one idler pulley that got a bit noisy around 80,000 miles. I would expect similar service from a 3.5L.

There was an earlier version of the 3.5L placed in the 1st generation LH cars. It was the premium engine in that application as well. People have driven that version well past 200,000 miles with only normal maintenance. However, the design was changed radically for the second generation cars, so direct comparisons aren't necessarily valid.

--Geoff

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Can you elaborate on the "radical" design changes between the 1st and 2nd generation LH 3.5L? Just curious. I think I read something about 1st generation being non-interference, and that was changed in the 2nd generation?

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There's a pretty good discussion of the 2nd-gen 3.5L on AllPar's site at http://www.allpar.com/mopar/v6.html .

The 1st-gen is covered at http://www.allpar.com/mopar/33.html , scroll down to the section entitled "The 3.5 liter engine according to Chrysler"

Happy reading.

--Geoff

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Hmmm... wrote:

The biggest change is that the first-genration had a cast nickel/iron block, the second gen has an aluminum block with nickel/iron liners. The second gen also has coil-on-plug ignition, and is apparently now an interference engine due to changes either in the combustion chamber or the piston compression height. However, very little (essentially nothing) changed with the rotating assembly- still a forged steel crank, nice long rods swinging short "slipper" pistons with a relatively low bob-weight (some other makers stick with taller pistons and shorten the RODS which leads to greater side-loading on the cylinder walls and higher stresses in the rod itself), cross-bolted mains (I believe with a full block girdle in the aluminum version, not necessary in the iron version). All-in-all its one HELL of a fine engine. You don't hear much about it because, like the 318, 383, 440, and slant-six before it, it just goes out and does its job for hundreds of thousands of miles without fancy advertizing.

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Thanks for this, and all the other informative replies.

Geoff wrote:

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"Geoff" wrote:

As an owner of a Pacifica since last August 29 (and an occasional driver as it is my wife's vehicle) I can tell you that in normal, daily Los Angeles driving situations (including merging onto freeways at 65+ mph) the Pacifica is not overwhelmed but performs quite well. Only once have I found it overwhelmed and that was when I had to stop for a red light at the bottom of a steep hill and then proceed up the hill when the light changed. As we are both #1 lane (fast lane) drivers we have no complaints about the performance. I have read some accounts of reviewers that say the performance of the 3.5 in the 300 and Magnum is quite respectable.

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RPhillips47 wrote:

I mentioned here some weeks ago that I had a rental Magnum with a 3.5 and was favorably impressed. It did not embarass itself in any way. My wife's 93 Vision with the lower-powered first-generation iron 3.5 could walk away from it easily because the car is lighter, but it couldn't exactly RUN away from it. The purely logical, analytical side of me would be very tempted by the 3.5 in the Magnum for the simple reason that you don't get stuck with an over-complicated Mercedes automatic transmission with it as you do if you pick the Hemi. But being weak, I'd probably still pick the Hemi. :-)

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So far, the 3.5 has not managed to have any major specific issues. It produces an easy 250 horsepower with about 250 lb-ft of torque for effortless acceleration in the 300M - lots of low-end torque which is missing from many competitive engines.

Magazine reviewers are often trendy and fashion-conscious and will dismiss good vehicles and engines simply because that's the way they feel that month. Others, like the Civic, ride on their past reputations.

There's an extensive article on the 3.5 at http://www.allpar.com/mopar.html which includes the changes from the first to the second generation.

As far as I know, there are no major quality issues with ANY current Chrysler engine other than the early 2.0 liters (1995-1998) running through head gaskets, the 2.7 (rarely) having rod failures and sludge, and the 2.4 turbo sometimes overheating in the PT (but not in the SRT-4 as far as I can tell).

My wife has the 3.5 in the 300M where it is quite fast. In the Pacifica, it isn't a hot rod but it does move quickly enough. There isn't a long delay before acceleration as there is in the automatic Camry 3.0 V6, the Suzuki V6-auto, etc.

On 2004-06-24 20:29:09 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com said:

-- http://www.toolpack.com/ for organizational development and survey research http://www.acarplace.com/ for car reviews

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this engine has proved itself as being a sturdy and well built engine i'm now seeing them with 200k at the dealer and going strong of course maintence is the key factor on engine durability

snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Auto magzine writers are idiots.

>At least is doesn't win the awards and high

Point proven.

My friend

Does 215,000 miles without any more than a water pump count? Granted, thats my wife's 1993 iron-block 3.5, but the aluminum-block version is doing just as well. I'd take it over a Nissan v6 any day of the week. Even a over a Nissan made BEFORE they were bought by Renault.

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