The Chrysler 3.0 EcoDiesel engine was released in 2014 in the Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles. It is a 3.0L V6 turbocharged diesel engine. Coming in at half the size of the Cummins diesel engines, the 3.0 EcoDiesel was the first diesel engine option for half-ton Dodge Ram’s since the early 2000’s.
Despite Ram 2500/3500 HD trucks using a Cummins turbo-diesel engine, FCA chose to go a different route. The 3.0 EcoDiesel was manufactued by VM Motori in Italy. FCA opted for a smaller engine for fuel economy purposes. Additionally, Dodge opted for a tradition V6 engine design compared to the inline-6 offered in the Cummins-powered Ram’s.
The 3.0 EcoDiesel produced 240hp and 420lb-ft. of torque from 2014-2019. In 2020, the EcoDiesel received numerous changes and updates increasing power to 240hp and torque to 480lb-ft. The upgrades included an updated turbocharger, redesigned cylinder heads, a new EGR system and intercooler, and various other internal improvements.
Jeep retired the 3.0 EcoDiesel from the Grand Cherokee models after the 2019 model year. It is still currently offered in the Dodge Ram 1500 models.
While Dodge has been running the EcoDiesel since 2014, it hadn’t faced any true competition until 22018. Ford launched the 3.0 PowerStroke in 2018 and Chevy/GM recently launched the 3.0 Duramax in 2020.
Jeep & Ram 3.0L EcoDiesel Engine Problems
- Oil Cooler Failure
- EGR Cooler Failure
- Leaking Exhaust Couplers
- Slipping Camshaft Gear
1. EcoDiesel 3.0 Oil Cooler Failure
Oil coolers, as you guessed, cool the oil that is circulating throughout the EcoDiesel’s internal components. Every engine has optimal oil temperatures ranges. When the oil increases above the optimal temperature it deteriorates the oil and decreases its lubricating abilities. Generally speaking, a 20 degree increase in oil temps above the optimal levels will cut the oils lifespan in half. An oil cooler is a vital component in maintaining optimal oil temps and preventing wear on internal engine components.
With a towing capacity of 12,560 pounds, the 3.0 EcoDiesel can haul some heavy loads. When towing heavy loads, or towing in mountainous regions, the EcoDiesel’s oil temperatures can increase significantly during towing which is known to cause the oil cooler to fail. While this problem can happen to an EcoDiesel that has never towed a thing before, it is most common under heavy towing conditions. Additionally, this problem primarily only affected 2014-2016 models.
When the oil cooler fails, engine coolant and engine oil mix together, contaminating the whole cooling system. Additionally, coolant can contaminate the oil which can lead to accelerated wear and tear of engine internals. On the 3.0 EcoDiesel it is more common for the oil to contaminate the cooling system which requires a full cooling system flush.
Oil Cooler Failure Symptoms
- Engine overheating
- Oil or coolant leaking from the oil cooler
- Oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil
- Poor performance
- Black smoke from exhaust
3.0L EcoDiesel Oil Cooler Replacement Options
The frequency of oil cooler failure resulted in a class action lawsuit and an extended warranty for the oil cooler for 2014-2016 trucks.
In any event, you will need to replace the oil cooler, change the oil, and flush the whole cooling system. Aftermarket oil coolers are available, such as the CFT Performance Oil Cooler, as an upgrade to prevent this problem from arising again. Replacing the oil cooler with an OEM unit can lead to future issues arising as the blame lays on the poor design and manufacturing of the stock oil cooler.
2. EcoDiesel EGR Cooler Failure
EGR, or exhaust gas recirculation, systems recirculate exhaust gasses back into the intake system. By reentering the intake system, the gasses are burned again in the combustion chamber, reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) that is released into the atmosphere. Because diesel engines can produce really high exhaust gas temps (EGTs), most diesel EGR systems have an EGR cooler. EGR coolers cool down the exhaust gas air temperatures before the air is recirculated into the intake system.
On the 3.0 EcoDiesel the EGR cooler is prone to cracking. Fortunately, in October of 2019, FCA issued a recall for 108,000 EcoDiesel Ram’s due to cracking EGR coolers. FCA claimed that hairline cracks in the EGR cooler could cause coolant to leak into the engine bay and cause fires.
While the likelihood of a fire starting from a cracked EGR cooler is low, it does have various other performance impact. A failed cooler can lead to very hot exhaust gases being sent back into the engine, resulting in engine overheating. Additionally it can cause an exhaust leak while will decrease engine performance and acceleration.
Symptoms of a Cracked EGR Cooler
- Leaking engine coolant from EGR cooler
- Engine overheating
- Exhaust leaks (hissing or tapping noise from engine)
- Check engine light
Fortunately due to the recall any cracked EGR coolers will be replaced completely free of charge by Dodge. While there have only been a handful of engine fires caused by the EGR cooler, we recommend getting the recall service done for piece of mind.
3. Leaking Exhaust Couplers
2014 and 2015 EcoDiesel Ram’s are susceptible to leaking exhaust couplers which can make the interior of the truck smell like diesel exhaust. The exhaust pipe from the turbo to the DPF system is connected via a flex pipe or coupler. The coupler is prone to cracking which causes an exhaust leak. Exhaust fumes permeate through the engine bay and are sucked through the air system and into the cabin.
Some owners have reported mild smells in the cabin while others have reported unbearable or nauseating amounts of fumes. The leaks are due to poorly manufactured couplers which are prone to cracking from the heat of the exhaust gases. Dodge issued a recall for this coupler and redesigned the coupler in late 2014, hence the defective part only affecting 2014 and 2015 model year Ram’s. The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesels used a different coupler due to a slightly different design in the piping connecting the turbo and DPF system and therefore did not experience the same issues.
Additionally, this problem is known to only affect 4×2 Ram EcoDiesel models. There have been some other reported exhaust leak issues from connecting bolts on the exhaust system not being tightened down enough, allowing for small exhaust leaks.
4. Slipping Camshaft Gear / Timing Chain – 3.0 EcoDiesel
The 3.0 EcoDiesel uses a traditional timing chain for valve timing. The timing chain is driven by the crankshaft and wraps around camshaft sprockets. It controls the camshaft timing so that the intake and exhaust valves open and close at the proper time. If the timing chain slips or jumps the teeth, the timing of the valves opening and closing gets out of sync. Small degrees of slippage will simply through timing off and cause poor performance, misfires, etc. However, serious slippage will cause the pistons and valves to slam together requiring a rebuild.
On the 3.0 EcoDiesel, the gears on the exhaust side passenger head are held by 1 long, singular bolt. Over time heat and stress cause the expansion and contraction of the metal which allows the gear to slip. Eventually, the gear slips to the point that the exhaust valves and pistons collide with each other. There have been instances where the timing has slipped to the point that the exhaust valve has blown through the piston, breaking the piston, wrist pin, and connecting rod.
While we list this issue as a common problem, we don’t believe it’s as common as it appears. The severity of the damage has caused the internet community to overexaggerate the likelihood of this occuring. With that being said, we have seen it occur a handful of times from cars ranging from 70,000 miles to upwards of 150,000 miles.
Slipping Timing Gear Symptoms
- Cylinder misfires
- Engine runs rough
- Rattling from engine
- Engine won’t start
While there may be some warning signs that your timing chain has started to slip, catastrophic failure is usually not preventable unless caught early on. As mentioned above, this problem was blown out of proportion on the internet from a YouTube video posted by Shawn “Mopar Ecodiesel”.
If you are an unfortunate owner who has experience catastrophic engine failure from cam slippage, then a new engine is likely in order, or a serious rebuild. However, as we do not believe this problem is very common we do not recommend trying to perform any sort of preventative maintenance on this item. There are no aftermarket kits or preventative maintenance options.
3.0 EcoDiesel Reliability
Despite having a 12,560lb towing capacity, these trucks do not do well towing. The added heat and stress from towing makes oil cooler and EGR cooler failure very prominent. We wouldn’t recommend towing anything beyond 7,000lbs with this truck, at least on a frequent basis. Fortunately the majority of the major problems with these engines have been covered by warranty or recalls.
2014 and 2015 models seem to be very hit or miss and are the least reliable years available. A handful of design tweaks were made in 2016 which greatly improved reliability from there on out. Additionally, more tweaks were made in 2020. While it is too soon to tell how the newer models are holding up, we are confident in the reliability of the new engines as the majority of tweaks were small upgrades and improvements verses large redesigns.
As is true with most diesels, the most problematic systems tend to be the emissions systems.
Overall, 2016 and onwards EcoDiesel’s are quite reliable and strong. With proper maintenance there is no doubt that these engines can last 300,000 miles and onwards. Just be cautious of towing heavy loads as this seems to be the most frequent cause of common problems with these engines. Despite being a diesel they were built for fuel efficiency and longevity rather than being serious haulers.