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Chrysler 6.1L HEMI Engine Specs, Problems & Reliability

The 6.1 HEMI is a 6.1-liter V8 naturally-aspirated gasoline engine debuted in the 2005 Chrysler 300C SRT-8. It's based on Chrysler's 5.7 HEMI V-8 engine. A lot of race-proven engine technologies were integrated to create the new SRT 6.1 HEMI with 425 horsepower and 420 ft-lb of torque. Production of 6.1L HEMI remained through 2010. During this period of time, this powerful Chrysler's 6.1L V8 was used in Dodge Challenger SRT-8, Charger SRT-8, Magnum SRT-8, and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Let's take an in-depth look at the 6.1 HEMI engine design, its common problems, reliability, and longevity.

The 6.1 HEMI cylinder block is different from the 5.7 version. The basic structure of a cast-iron deep-skirt engine block is redesigned with reinforced bulkheads and revised coolant channels. In order to increase the total displacement from 5.7 to 6.1 liters, engineers bored out the diameter of each cylinder by 3.5 mm. They also equipped engine blocks with oil squirters to cool the pistons for engine durability. The SRT 6.1 HEMI's crankshaft is forged steel. Redesigned connecting rods are made of higher-strength powder metal material. The engine uses larger-diameter flat-top pistons specified to handle increased compression ratio from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1.

The engine also received new cylinder heads. They feature ports design with larger cross-sectional areas. As a result, the new heads show 11% more flow in the intake and 13% more flow in the exhaust ports. Intake valves are 2mm larger than the 5.7L engine, which also contributes to increased airflow. The 6.1 Hemi V8 got a billet steel high-strength camshaft with more overlap and lift, and tuned for higher engine speed operation close to 6,400 rpm. A noticeable difference between the 6.1 Hemi engine and 5.7 Hemi is it does not include variable camshaft timing (VCT) technology and Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System (MDS). The SRT 6.1 V8 also uses its own aluminum intake manifold with shorter, tapered, larger-diameter runners for high-speed tuning. Specially designed intake does not include variable-length technology found in some 5.7 V8s.

The SRT 6.1 HEMI engine is equipped with a conventional multi-port fuel injection system controlled by ECU. Compared to the 5.7-liter version, fuel injector flow capacity is increased by 14% to cover higher engine speeds and airflow. However, the electronic throttle body is shared with the 5.7-liter HEMI. In addition to a high-performance intake system, SRT engineers also did a great job with engine exhaust. SRT 6.1L HEMI exhaust stainless steel headers adding 12 hp over stock 5.7-liter cast manifolds while maintaining fast catalyst light-off. Like other modern HEMI engines, the 6.1-liter version features two spark plugs with platinum tips and an individual coil for each cylinder.

Drawing the line, the SRT 6.1 HEMI engine meets EPA emissions standards and shows reasonable fuel economy, good reliability, and durability while making 25% more power (an additional 85 hp and 30 ft-lb of torque) than the 5.7 HEMI.

Engine Specs

Manufacturer
Chrysler, Saltillo Engine plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico
Production years
2005-2010
Cylinder block material
Cast iron
Cylinder head material
Aluminum
Fuel type
Gasoline
Fuel system
Sequential multi-port fuel injection
Configuration
V
Number of cylinders
8
Valves per cylinder
2
Valvetrain layout
OHV
Bore, mm
103.0 mm (4.06 in)
Stroke, mm
90.9 mm (3.58 in)
Displacement, cc
6,059 cc (370 cu in)
Type of internal combustion engine
Four-stroke, naturally aspirated
Compression Ratio
10.3:1
Power, hp
425 hp (318 kW)/6,000
Torque, lb ft
420 ft-lb (569 Nm)/4,800
Engine weight
-
Firing order
1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2
Engine oil weight
SAE 0W-40
Engine oil capacity, liter
6.6 l (7.0 qt) with oil filter
Oil change interval, mile
6,000 (10,000 km)/6 months
Applications
Chrysler 300C SRT-8, Dodge Magnum SRT-8, Dodge Charger SRT-8, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8, Dodge Challenger SRT-8

Chrysler-Dodge 6.1 HEMI Common Problems and Reliability

Let's talk about how good the SRT 6.1 HEMI engine is. Start with the fact that the gen3 HEMI V8 engine family actually doesn't have many truly common problems or failures. But the 6.1 HEMI engine even has several advantages in terms of reliability over the 5.7 and 6.4 HEMI V8s, because of the lack of technologies, such as MDS and active intake system. Still, let's try to point out some of those most common problems, which don't necessarily affect a large percent of 6.1L HEMI V8s.

A seized lifter and lifter roller. This is fairly discussed on the Internet and a well-known problem that affects all modern HEMI V8 engines. At some point, usually around 70,000 to 120,000 miles, one or several lifter rollers in the valvetrain may seize because of lack of lubricant or other sorts of damages. Some believe problems with the lifters may lay in a bad design. A bad lifter touches the camshaft lobe and damages it, leaving lots of metal shavings in the engine oil. The most noticeable symptom of a bad 6.1 HEMI lifter is a ticking sound due to the metal on metal contact. But HEMI's "ticking" is usually a typical sound for the 6.1-liter version as well, which makes it even harder to diagnose this issue. Misfiring, check engine light, and more violent sounds make the problem more obvious. Unfortunately, at this stage, you will already need expensive repairs requiring a replacement of the camshaft, lifters, timing chain, and probably more parts.

SRT 6.1 ignition system. To be clear, the ignition system isn't a real problem, it's something you just need to be aware of. The 6.1 HEMI uses 16 spark plugs, leaving a lot of room for error. If you're having misfires on the 6.1 HEMI, don't overlook a simple spark plug replacement. If pushing HEMI hard, spark plugs will likely last about 30,000-40,000 miles.

Summary

Is the Chrysler-Dodge 6.1 HEMI engine reliable? Summarizing all of the above, now we can answer this question. No doubt, yes, it is a good, reliable engine. The SRT 6.1 HEMI is a great engine that offers a good balance of performance and much above-average reliability. Keep it well maintained, and this honestly American V8 will last up to 300,000 miles easily.