Dodge (318) 5.2L Magnum V8 Engine Problems

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When it comes to designing engines, Dodge is one of the few manufacturers that can make it to the top of the list. The 5.2 Magnum is proof of that.

With its release in 1992, the V8 engine is a pretty powerful one. I could go on and on and sing praises of the V8 engine, but I will focus on its negative side.

Let’s take a look at the Dodge 5.2 Magnum engine problems below:

  1. Leakage Of The Plenum Gasket
  2. Weak Transmission
  3. Failure Of The Exhaust Manifold Bolts And Gaskets
  4. Faulty Camshaft Sensor

Unlike some other engines, all of these issues are to be deemed critical. I will be explaining their cause and what can be done to fix them.

The 4 Most Common Dodge (318) 5.2L Magnum Engine Problems

You can learn the list of the symptoms that fail your Dodge 318 engine to prevent the issues

As I stated before, we will now be discussing the four issues with the Magnum engine I highlighted above.

It is advised that you read through this part of the article in its entirety, so you will not miss anything.

1. Leakage Of The Plenum Gasket

If you are familiar with engines, you must be aware that leakage can affect any one of them.

Whether it be a design flaw or old age, every single engine risks unexpected leakage. On this endless list of engines also comes the name of the Magnum V8 engine by Dodge.

The Issue

Before we discuss the issue, let me tell you what the plenum gasket is.

It is more commonly known as the belly pan gasket. It is the part that connects the steel plate and the aluminum manifold.

Like many other engine parts, the plenum gasket is prone to wear and tear.

But, in the case of the V8 engine, the gasket is more susceptible to wear and tear as when compared to other engines.

The deterioration of the gasket causes many problems, the biggest one being an air leak.


You may be wondering what damage an air leak could possibly do. When the engine is deprived of its ability to take in air, you can expect huge performance losses.

With most of the air leaking, there is not enough oxygen for proper combustion. So, there can be power loss anytime.

I am afraid it does not end there. The leak may cause the catalytic converters to get clogged up. These clogging mean that the performance drop will be even more severe.

Plus, there is a high probability that the cylinder heads will crack.


Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to make sure that a gasket leak is identified before its too late.

If the engine shows these symptoms, then there is a high probability of a gasket failure:

  • Misfires unexpectedly.
  • Gives overall poor performance.
  • Consumes oil excessively.
  • Emits a noise when accelerating.

These symptoms, alone, can be caused by many different things. But if they are occurring together, then you are looking at a plenum gasket leak.

2. Weak Transmission

Now, let’s talk about one of the most serious issues on the list, transmission weakness. The 5.2L engine uses a 46RE transmission. Before 1996, the transmission in use was the 46RH.

If the company changed the transmission system, you would think that they definitely must have fixed some issues. Well, both of these transmissions are prone to the same issue.

The Issue

Two of the most important parts of transmission systems are torque converters and cooling lines.

Unfortunately, on the V8 engine, both of them have a high tendency of failing. That is not all!

On the 4×4 variants of vehicles using this engine, the reverse and the overdrive assemblies are the ones that tend to fail unexpectedly.

Overall, these transmissions have not been designed for heavy usage. And that is a design flaw. The company should have tested the engine more thoroughly.

Users had to test this out the hard way that the transmission does not respond well when the vehicle is used for towing or used with increased horsepower.


A transmission system failure is something that is immediately noticeable.

Some of the main things that will happen are:

  • Slipping of the gears.
  • Noises and difficulty when changing the gear.
  • Leakage of the transmission fluid.
  • Unlike the previous issue, all of these problems are exclusive to the transmission system only.

So, if any one of them is occurring, then you need to get it checked ASAP.


Users reported that the transmission system starts giving out after reaching the 100000-mile milestone. The best thing you can do is get the system replaced entirely.

This ensures that there will be no more worrying about the unexpected failure of the transmission system. You could also get the old one rebuilt, but my advice is to get a new one.

3. Failure Of The Exhaust Manifold Bolts And Gaskets

Let’s talk about another design flaw in the Magnum V8 engine. Most of you may know that the exhaust pipes are connected to the cylinders using the exhaust manifold.

The manifold’s function is to send out the air from the engine. But, unfortunately, there is one big issue with the whole contraption.

The Issues

There is no doubt that the exhaust system works as intended. It is efficient and transfers air as quickly as possible. The problem lies in the things that you would not notice.

The bolts of the manifold are prone to breaking. This may be a surprise to you all, but it is true. The broken bolts result in a compromise of the system, which leads to air leakage.

As we discussed with the plenum gasket leak scenario, a drop in the air pressure of the engine can lead to various issues, but the biggest one will be the performance hit that your vehicle takes.


A leak due to broken bolts is easy to identify.

There are some things, which if they occur in tandem, confirm that there is a leak:

  • Ticking noise emitted by the engine.
  • Poor fuel consumption.
  • Rough exhaust sound.
  • Drop-in performance.

Now, these symptoms can only clarify whether there is a leak or not. It could be due to the bolts or due to damage to the manifold itself.

Regardless, it is better to get it fixed without any delay unless you want to risk your vehicle even further.


Fortunately, if you have isolated the issue, and it is indeed the bolts, then you are looking at a very cheap replacement process.

All you need to do is replace the bolts, which will seal the exhaust manifold and you will be good to go.

It is also recommended to get the gasket replaced, as the engine is already being worked on.

It may have deteriorated or may be close to reaching the point that you have to visit a mechanic again.

4. Faulty Camshaft Sensor

This article has made one thing clear up until now: the company did not test the engine enough to identify this issue.

With the company being Dodge, it is disappointing to see this from its side.


We have finally arrived at the final problem of our article. The thing at fault here is the camshaft sensor.

For those who don’t know, the camshaft is the part of the engine that regulates fuel input and the excretion of exhaust gases. It is a pretty vital part of the engine.

Then comes the camshaft sensor. It is placed in the camshaft and is used to measure the speed of the camshaft.

The readings are important because they are then sent to the ECU, the engine’s internal computer, to calculate how much fuel is sprayed into the combustion chamber.

The Issue

What could happen to the sensor, you may be wondering. The thing about all sorts of sensors is that they cannot work efficiently unless they are completely clean.

The engine of a vehicle is as far from being clean as it can get. Whether it be dust or anything, you can expect sensor malfunction if it starts building up.

Incorrect readings to the ECU mean that the calculations done by the system are inaccurate. This can lead to various performance issues.

Checking And Replacement

A failing sensor is something the engine can identify.

It can alert you of the issue, and there are other tests too, which can help in identifying the issue:

  • The check engine light is on.
  • P1391 or P0340 engine codes.
  • Drop-in performance.
  • Unexpected misfires.

Although you could replace the sensor, it is highly unlikely that the previous one has become faulty. You could just clean it off, and it should be good to go.

What Is The Dodge 5.2 Magnum Engine?

The V8 engine was announced way back in 1992. It was a hit among users, thanks to its brilliant performance.

With it being more commonly known as the 318 Magnum, the engine can output a whopping 230 HP of pure power.

Combine that with the 350 lb-ft. of torque, and you can expect mind-blowing performance from this engine. This is true that the engine is not great in terms of fuel efficiency.

All of that performance comes at a cost. But I still think that it is worth it. Users also reported that the engine has a rock-solid build.

So, you should not be worried about anything such as vibrations or impacts on the road. This bad boy will be able to handle it easily.

Compared to the Chrysler 318, which was this engine’s predecessor, the main attraction point was its high-flow heads which boosted performance.

Is The Dodge 318 Engine Reliable?

You should be glad that you asked this question. The engine is excellent in terms of reliability.

Although Dodge did not do a phenomenal job of testing the engine properly, it did make sure that anything that comes off the assembly line will last as long as possible.

So, how does 300000-miles sound to you?

This is certainly at the highest end of engine mileage. If you did not jump directly to the end of this article, then you may be aware of the four problems I listed at the start.

They do not occur due to the engine’s reliability. These problems occur from the factory, and it is the company’s job to alleviate them.

Regardless, if you get the repairs done on time, then you can expect solid performance from this engine for a long time.

What Cars Use The Dodge 5.2 Magnum Engine?

The 5.2 Magnum is an engine that was used in a very small number of vehicles.

Although it was in production for more than a decade, eleven years to be exact, it still did not use it too much.

The engine was featured alongside the 1992 Dodge Dakota and the Dodge Ram. Both of them were the first vehicles to ever feature this engine.

The same year, the Dodge Ramcharger and the Ram Van were revealed with the same engine.

In 1993, the highly popular Jeep Grand Cherokee was chosen to rock this beast under the hood.

Then, for four years, there were no new vehicles that were released with the same engine. That is very strange. The Dodge Durango, in 1998, suddenly dropped with the same engine.

Apart from the Dodge Ram Van, which used the engine until 2003, others had stopped using it rather quickly.

Dodge 5.2 Magnum Engine Specs

Cylinder block composition Cast iron
Cylinder head composition Cast iron
Fuel Unleaded gasoline
Fuel injection type Multi-point fuel injection
Arrangement V configuration
No. of chambers 8
Valves in each cylinder 2
Valvetrain layout SOCH
Bore 99.3 mm or 3.91 cubic inches
Stroke 84.0mm or 3.30 cubic inches
Displacement 5.2L or 5210 cc
Internal combustion engine (Type) Four stroke, Naturally articulated
Compression ratio 9.1:1
Power 230 HP @ 4100 rpm
Torque @ 3000 rpm
Weight of engine oil SAE 10W-30
The capacity of engine oil 5 quarts w / filter
Firing directive 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2
The interval between oil change 10000 miles (15000 km) or 12 months

The Benefits Of Choosing The Dodge 5.2 Magnum Engine

The Dodge 318 engine has been around for quite some time now. It has won the hearts of thousands of consumers.

Let me show you some of the many things they loved about this engine below:

  • The engine can produce horsepower that is north of 200.
  • You need an oil change once every year, which adds to the convenience factor.
  • It was not used in many vehicles, so you will not worry about getting an underpowered variant.
  • The engine can cross the 300000-mile mark easily.
  • It is extremely durable and can handle stress like a champ.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you turn to online forums, you will notice that they deviate from the original question quite quickly.

That is why I have chosen these few questions and will be answering them clearly and concisely.

I hope they will clear up some confusion.

Q1. Is The 318 Engine A Hemi?

Unfortunately, it is not. The 5.2 Magnum was discontinued, and a newer Hemi model was released a few months later. The Magnum is not as efficient as a Hemi engine.

You can always expect the newer model to be improved over the older one. But still, the engine is excellent, and you will love it.

Q2. How Long Will A Magnum Engine Last?

This is where you get some good news. Although I have stated more than once in the above article, I will repeat it.

The Magnum engine can last you around 250000 to 300000 miles. This is more than enough.

Plus, the engine is quite old at this point, so if you are getting one, and it has been driven a lot, you may still have a lot of miles on it.

Q3. Is The 5.2 Magnum A Good Engine?

I think the reliability question clearly answers this. Just to recap, the 5.2 Magnum is a solid engine.

It is more reliable than almost all of the Magnum engines out there. It has fewer faults and gives you an amazing and unparalleled driving experience.

Q4. What About The 5.9 Magnum? Is it Good?

The 5.9 Magnum is another excellent option for you to consider. It is basically the bigger brother of the 5.2L V8 engine.

With 250 HP, it is certainly more than enough to satisfy your driving needs. But the engine is considerably less reliable than the 5.2L variant. This is something you should know about.

Q5. Can You Differentiate Between Both Of Them?

Just by looking at them, you will not find anything. But the VIN number can help you identify which engine you are looking at.

The eighth character should be a Y, or a Z. Y means 5.2 while the Z means 5.9. This is a unique way of identifying two different engines.


If you have finally decided on buying the 5.2L engine, then I must congratulate you.

Whether you have bought the engine or a vehicle equipped with one, you will have a driving experience like never before.

After all, it is a V8 engine. You must be aware of all of the Dodge 5.2 Magnum engine problems because they may frustrate you anytime in the future.

There is a possibility that the previous owner may have already addressed those issues, so it is better to get it cleared up from them.

I hope that this article helped you in deciding if the 5.2L engine is worth it or not.

If you skipped the article and are looking for specific information, I think the above FAQ will be to your liking.