The 5.7 liter Mopar Hemi engine is a cast-iron lump. It is used in Mopar products; Dodge Charger, Dodge Ram, Dodge Challenger, etc. It produces 370-395 horsepower depending on the application, with 390-415 lb-ft. The 5.7 Hemi is the middle ground between the V6 and 6.4 and 6.2 Hemis. In this article, we’ll be covering the best ways to extend the 5.7 Hemi Engine longevity, along with common issues. Let’s get started.
Routine maintenance will extend the life of any engine. The safe oil change interval is 5,000-7500 miles. However, if you are driving in more hilly terrain frequently, move that interval to 5,000 miles. The extra heat and load put on the engine take a toll on the oil over time, and it will not protect your engine as thoroughly after a certain time point.
Doing regular oil changes will extend the life of your 5.7 Hemi. Oil changes are important, as they are known for breaking cam lobes/bearings/lifters. Changing the oil regularly and using good quality synthetic oil will mitigate or prevent this problem.
Use different types of oil depending on your driving habits and where you drive. If you drive frequently and for long periods, use synthetic oil. It has more detergents, lubricants, and other compounds that will protect the engine. However, if you take shorter trips and less often, use regular oil. Synthetic oil needs to be heated regularly to work, and if you take shorter trips, the engine does not warm through properly. The additives in synthetic oil can crystallize and sludge, creating problems down the road. Conventional oil will not do this—regular oil for short trips, synthetic for longer trips.
Additionally, if you make frequent short trips, check your oil once a week. Taking many short journeys burns more oil, so you will need to top it off whether the engine is new or old. Short journeys also do not allow the engine to heat up properly. Over time condensation can get into the oil. Checking oil levels frequently allows you to verify oil levels and condensation. If there is lots of condensation in the oil, or it is cloudy, change it.
Coolant is also an important part. Too little coolant and your engine will overheat, too much and it will overflow the radiator. Additionally, check the pressure by squeezing a radiator hose. If it is hard, there is air in the system, or the head gasket has failed and is leaking pressure into the water system. If it is easy to squeeze, everything is fine.
Use the factory-recommended coolant for your 5.7, no matter which Dodge or Chrysler it is in. However, if you decide to switch to a different coolant, make sure to flush the system before adding a new coolant. Mixing coolant can cause the compounds to react badly and cause problems such as crystallization or not performing adequately. Certain coolants also have more lubricants, which prevent rust in the cooling system.
Some people prefer to use water in their cooling system instead of antifreeze. You can blend water and antifreeze to a 50/50 ratio, but do not use straight water in the cooling system. The boiling point of water is lower than the boiling point of the coolant, and the freezing point is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Coolant does not freeze solid; water does. If you live in a colder climate and use water in your engine, it can freeze, push out a freeze plug or, in the worst circumstances, crack the block and ruin the engine. Dedicated antifreeze, whether 100% or 50/50 blended, is the best way to go.
Oil additives are a hit-and-miss situation. Newer engines generally do not need aftermarket additives in the oil, but an older engine benefits from additives that contain elements like zinc and lead.
The 5.7 Hemi is known for eating cam lifters and lobes through either manufacturing defects or poor maintenance. The additives in aftermarket oil treatments cling to surfaces like rod bearings and cam lifters, meaning they stay lubricated for longer, and your engine can run longer without serious work. The general rule of thumb is every time you change the oil, add one bottle of your favorite oil additive. You do not need to add it like topping up the oil, just pour in a bottle with a fresh oil change and go.
The 5.7 Hemi may be a powerful engine, but it does not lend itself to more power. The internals cannot handle much more than the stock 370-395 hp. Unlike an LS motor which can easily handle 600 hp in stock form, the 5.7 Hemi is not a performance engine. Add more power with discretion.
Common problems on the 5.7 Hemi are broken exhaust manifold bolts, lifter ticks, seized rollers, and roller bearing failure. The lifter and cam issues on the 5.7, especially after the 2009 model year, are thought to be an oiling issue. This is not caused by the oil level being too high or low, but by issues with the oiling passages in the block.
What generally happens is the lifter roller fails. The roller then wears on the cam lobe, shaving off metal that gets into the oil. When the roller wears low enough, the lifter itself fails and sticks open, grinding the cam lobe down. That is the ticking sound that you will hear and, left unchecked, will result in you replacing the engine.
The exhaust manifold issue comes through the manifold gaskets leaking, creating the exhaust leak, which ticks. The manifolds themselves can break their studs off in the block, creating an expensive issue. Exhaust manifolds tend to rust due to the metals used in their construction, so they often need replacement.
The 5.7 Hemis made after 2009, designated Eagle also had cylinder deactivation and variable cam timing. That allowed the ECU to adjust the engine trim to suit steady cruising and improve the economy. However, the system can be faulty. Symptoms of a bad cylinder deactivation system can be misfires, ticks, and check engine lights. The system can be deactivated, with a tune.
FAQs about 5.7 Hemi Engine Longevity
Question: Can I prevent these problems with regular maintenance?
Answer: The 5.7 Hemi is not the most reliable engine, but regular maintenance will extend its life. Change the oil every 5000-7500 miles, make sure both oil and coolant are topped off, and it will last much longer than it otherwise would. If you start to hear the infamous ticking, take it to a shop immediately. You can save a lot of money that way.
Question: Is the 5.7 Hemi a good performance engine?
Answer: The 5.7 Hemi may sound great, but it is not a performance engine. It is in the Challenger, Charger, and Chrysler 300, as an intermediate step before upgrading to the bigger Hemis. As such, the internals cannot handle much extra power beyond an exhaust and camshaft swap, maybe a set of ported heads. Do not attempt to add boost. It simply is the wrong engine.
Question: I have the 5.7 Hemi in my truck. Should I be worried about reliability?
Answer: The 5.7 Hemi seems to be more reliable in trucks over time, possibly because trucks are not performance cars. Keep up with your maintenance, make sure the fluids are topped off and you should be fine. One thing to pay attention to is the exhaust manifolds; on the 5.7 Hemi, those like to corrode and leak, which is a big problem on the truck applications.
Question: Should I buy a vehicle with a 5.7 Hemi in it?
Answer: It depends on what that vehicle is. Steer clear of the Chargers, Challengers, and Chrysler 300s with the 5.7 Hemis. These are popular performance cars and are driven hard, so they will have maintenance issues. However, the Dodge Durango and Ram are available with the 5.7 Hemi, and if you want one, then either a Durango or Ram with the 5.7 is fine.
5.7 Hemi: Should I Buy It?
The 5.7 liter Mopar Hemi is not a bad engine, per se. However, it has issues that will cost you a lot of money to fix. 5.7 Hemis are known to run for over 300,000 miles; however, given how many problems they suffer from and their frequency, it is best to steer clear of any Mopar product that has a 5.7 Hemi. If you are pulling the engine to replace it with a different motor, that is fine. However, if you buy a car to drive, do not consider the 5.7 Hemi even in a newer format.