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Dodge Challenger Reliability

The modern classic, reborn anew—is it a smart purchase?

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BY The Drive Staff / LAST UPDATED ON March 8, 2021

Dodge Challenger
Toni Scott

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The Dodge Challenger was initially introduced in 1970 at the height of the muscle car wars, but the third generation we’ll be discussing today debuted in 2008. There are dozens upon dozens of versions of the Challenger produced in this 13-year span, ranging from V6 economy-minded base variants to the legendary 9-second-quarter-mile Demon package with a 6.2L supercharged V8. 

The Challenger remains popular today as a relatively affordable and well-supported modern muscle coupe, and the range of engine choices allows for tradeoffs to be made for fuel mileage or initial cost vs. raw horsepower and torque. Dodge continues to offer new versions of the Challenger straight from the dealership, but you also have the option to choose from tens of thousands of used vehicles, as well. Are they safe to buy? Let's discuss below.

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

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Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand? 

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability? 

Short answer, you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Toni Scott

Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Dodge Challenger Specs

Vehicle Type: Coupe
Doors: 2
Engine: 3.5L SOHC V6, 3.6L DOHC V6, 5.7L HEMI V8, 6.1L HEMI V8, 6.2L Supercharged V8 (Hellcat or Demon versions), 6.4L HEMI V8
Transmission: 4, 5, or 8 speed automatic, or 6 speed Tremec manual
Curb weight: 3,834 to 4,254 lbs based on trim

What Makes The Dodge Challenger Such a Reliable Model (Or Not)? 

Reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we cannot make a definitive statement that the Challenger is reliable or unreliable. However, we have assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the Challenger’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

Common Dodge Challenger Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all Challengers are built to the same exacting standards as the vehicles mentioned above. Here’s a quick rundown of Challengers, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

ALTERNATOR ISSUES

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $700, according to CarComplaints.com.

Customer Complaints: 

“I purchased the 2012 Dodge and loved it, but the repairs [are a] pain. The car shut down on me in the middle of the intersection everything just shut down. I was so scared but luckily a police [cruiser] pulled up behind me and stayed there [until] the tow truck showed up. I have never heard of an alternator costing $500 and that was not including the cost of labor. I was devastated how can a new car like this be having these problems. [...] I was out of my vehicle for about 2 1/2 weeks.” - 2012 model

“Alternator just went completely out while running errands in town. It was raining and I couldn't roll the windows up. I pay to have extended warranty, but still unfair to pay the extra for the warranty and $100 deductible for a defective car part. Just another issue that I've had…” - 2012 model

TIPM FAILURE

Average Estimated Repair Costs: $940, according to CarComplaints.com.

Customer Complaints: 

“Over the past 12 months, I've noticed my Challenger RT (60,000 miles) failing to start when [the] ignition button [is] pressed. At times, and recently more often, engine cranks but won’t start. Have to cycle through the ignition (accessory and so on) to get the car to start.” - 2013 model

“Had the car back for only a few days and it failed to start for the second time at my home. Attempted to start the car several times but did not start. Had [the] car towed back to [the] dealer and they replace[d] the TIPM and repaired [some] wiring (noticed some corrosion).” - 2013 model

NHTSA Recalls:

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the Challenger’s issues throughout the years.

2019

Recall 1: Rearview display failure.

Recall 2: Front tire damage. 

Recall 3: Driver warnings in the instrument cluster do not illuminate.

Complaints: 20

2018

Recall 1: Voltage regulator failure.

Recall 2: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Recall 3: Incorrect transmission park lock rods installed.

Complaints: 37

2017

Recall 1: Transmission pop-out of Park.

Recall 2: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Recall 3: Oil leak from EOC line.

Complaints: 23

2016

Recall 1: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Complaints: 49

2015

Recall 1: Radio software vulnerabilities.

Recall 2: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Recall 3: Driver’s curtain airbag missing bolt.

Recall 4: Damaged fuel rail.

Complaints: 98

2014

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Recall 3: Failing alternator issues.

Complaints: 123

2013

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Cruise control cancellation not functioning. 

Recall 3: Starter short circuit.

Complaints: 158

2012

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Failing alternator issues.

Complaints: 237

2011

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Failing alternator issues.

Complaints: 178

2010

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Driver airbag rupture.

Recall 3: Power steering leak.

Complaints: 284

2009

Recall 1: Passenger airbag detonation.

Recall 2: Driver airbag rupture.

Recall 3: Fire extinguisher clogging.

Recall 4: Front wheel spindle failure.

Complaints: 122

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.”

2021: 85/100

2020: 85/100

2019: 82/100

2018: 82/100

2017: 81/100

2016: 84/100

2015: 87/100

2014: 83/100

2013: 83/100

2012: 81/100

2011: 91/100

2010: 85/100

2009: 87/100

FAQs About Dodge Challengers 

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. Is the Dodge Challenger Still Sold?

A. Yes it is, with the 2021 model starting at $28,295.

Q. What Is the Most Powerful Dodge Challenger Sold?

A. The 2018 SRT Demon produced 840 HP on 100-octane race fuel. 

Q. Is the Dodge Challenger Available in AWD?

A. Yes, the Challenger GT trim is an AWD variant.

Video 

Enjoy John Davis at Motorweek sharing the full lineup of 2019 Challenger variants. 

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote

More Information 

Here are a few more resources you can use:

  1. Guide to bad alternator diagnosis.
  2. Exhaust guide for the Dodge Challenger.