New Dodge Challenger and Charger Software Limits Cars to 3 HP Because People Keep Stealing Them

Dodge says the update will be good for “foiling fast getaways and joyrides.”

byChris Tsui|
Dodge News photo


It's no secret that car thieves have a thing for high-performance Dodge muscle cars. Because of that, the company is responding with a software patch that should make life a little harder for those who'd like to live the Hellcat life but refuse to do so under legal means. 

Soon to be available to Chargers and Challengers equipped with either the 6.2- or 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engines, a new Security Mode locks the cars' full performance behind a four-digit code as an extra layer of security against thieves who have spoofed the main key code, sort of like how two-factor authentication adds extra protection against people trying to gain access to your Facebook profile. (If you do not have 2FA set up for your major online accounts or are not even aware of what 2FA is, you should probably do some research and get on that.)


Without the four-digit code, presumed Dodge thieves will only be able to drive the cars with the engines at idle speed (675 rpm), limiting them to just 22 pound-feet of torque and less than three horsepower. Yes, three hp. Not 300 hp. Not 30. Three. Well, 2.8 hp to be completely precise. So, if you ever see a Hellcat being driven around suspiciously slowly and quietly, it may very well be stolen. All the more reason for legit owners to give their cars a random rev every once in a while, I guess.

High-horsepower Chargers and Challengers from the 2015 model year onwards are eligible to have this retroactively installed free of charge by any Dodge dealership.

"When flashed into the computer of affected 2015 or newer Dodge muscle cars, the protective software will limit the engine output to less than three horsepower, foiling fast getaways and joyrides," said Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis. "More than 150 cars are stolen every day in the United States. For any car owner, it's terrible, it's a hassle and it's a personal violation. Though statistically rare, car thieves have targeted the high-horsepower Dodge muscle cars, and we want the Dodge 'Brotherhood' to know we're taking quick action and covering their backs."


Reportedly, more than 1,000 Chargers were stolen in and around the Detroit area in 2020 alone (around three every single day) while the Charger Hemi and Challenger SRT Hellcat ranked first and second, respectively, on the list of vehicles most likely to be stolen in America a couple of years ago. However, these two aren't the only FCA, er, Stellantis hot rods to have become dubiously appetizing to thieves. 

Late last year, a pre-production 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat SUV was swiped straight off of a company employee's driveway in Detroit and a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk press car was once taken from the folks at Jalopnik during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. We've contacted Stellantis to ask whether the new security software will make its way to other models and will update this story when we hear back.

The Security Mode software will be available for Dodge's muscle cars late in the second quarter of 2021.

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