Since you are reading this, you are probably on the market for a muscle car. Muscle cars are one of the hottest cars on the market right now, and they offer plenty of muscle for the money. 2021 is like 1969 when it comes to these tire-shredding machines. The muscle car offering has never been this big when it comes to Mopars, especially Chargers. But what about the Dodge Charger reliability?
As they say Mopar or no car. If you are looking to get a new Charger this is the time to buy. But first, you need to study the model a little bit. Learn about the performance specs and different trims that Dodge is offering. Finally, learn something more about Dodge Charger reliability. You need a reliable vehicle after all.
At the time of writing this article, the 7th gen chargers are one of the best sellers out there. These cars offer the best of both worlds, power, and functionality. You will have all the horsepower you want in your grocery getter. And also, sleek and modern looks that come with the car.
The refresh of 2011 has brought many innovations to this old platform and gave it a new life. The looks were improved by a big margin and also did the Dodge Charger reliability. Something which we are going to discuss in this article in detail.
First, we are going to learn about the history of the Charger. Then we will take a look at the different trim levels that you can get. And also, we are going to get through all the reliability issues with each engine of this generation of chargers. All things that will be essential for you to know before making a purchase on your new Charger. Now let’s begin.
The History Of The Dodge Charger
The Dodge Charger first appeared in 1966. The first generation didn’t offer a sporty design and shared many of the components with the Dodge Coronet. The second generation of this car is the one that made all the headlines and we can say that this car is a real legend in the car world.
The second-generation Charger gave the Charger the muscular lines. The Charger has created a new market of cars, the muscle car. The second generation offered incredible power numbers at the time with its HEMI V8 engine that is a legend by itself. The design of this engine is still used by this day in top fuel dragsters. That says enough about how advanced this engine was for its time.
The second generation lasted from 1968 till 1970. Then the third generation was introduced and the Charger became a bigger and bulkier car. This also affected the performance, and then the emission regulations hit the car world and the muscle car era had ended by 1974.
Chrysler made the Charger until 1987. These two generations that came after the third one, I guess that nobody even knows that they exist. Because these cars weren’t focused on performance. They discontinued the Charger in 1987 and that lasted until 2006. A year where Chrysler felt the need for a small muscle car revival and they brought to market the 6th generation of the Dodge Charger.
It was a big car. This new generation of Chargers was based on the LX platform. The LX was a new platform that Chrysler got from Mercedes Benz. And it is a known fact that these cars share some of their mechanicals with the Mercedes E class.
The sixth-generation became a hit and was one of Dodge’s bestsellers. In 2011, 2 years before FIAT have taken over Chrysler. Dodge introduced the 7th gen and has put all the attention on the muscle car. They improved the Dodge Charger reliability, and also added some new design features that took this car to the next level.
They gave the SRT division the main word when it comes to performance and they took the chance. And nailed it. They brought us one of the best muscle cars of the moment, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. This car makes a whopping 707 horsepower. And later they even introduced a more powerful version of the Hellcat named the Redeye. You can even buy the Hellcat lump as a crate engine to fit into your Miata if you wanted.
That’s enough about the history and now let’s get busy talking about some facts about the engine lineup and the Dodge Charger reliability.
The Sixth Generation Dodge Charger And Its Engine Lineup
The 6th generation of Chargers that came up originally in 2006 was offered in four engine options. The base SE/SXT cars were using V6 engines.
The first was an early V6 from the 90s. It was a single overhead cam V6 making a modest 178 horsepower and 190lb-ft of torque. Very low numbers comparing with the overall weight of the car. It was underpowered by a large margin.
The other V6 engine was a more powerful option. Rated at 250 horsepower and 250lb-ft of torque. And that made a huge difference compared to the base model.
The other two options were V8 Hemi engines used by the R/T and the SRT-8 models. These engines were also more powerful and delivered decent performance compared to the V6’s.
One HEMI coming at 5.7 liters naturally aspirated was offered in a couple of different versions. Ranging from 340 horsepower up to 372 horsepower and the torque was rated at 390lb-ft. This Hemi is known for its lifter tap problem. That’s something that we are going to discuss more in a bit.
The second engine was a 6.1-liter HEMI also naturally aspirated. This engine is better known as the 392. Because it has 392 cubic inches of displacement. It was offered in the high-performance SRT-8 version of the Charger and was a powerhouse at the time in 2006. It was rated at 425 horsepower of pure muscle and it delivered a fair amount of torque 420 lb-ft to be exact. Later it was bumped to 525 horsepower and 6.4 liters of displacement.
The early Hemi engines were not famous for their performance. But they were a decent upgrade over the base V6. They delivered reliability, causing the mopars to grow in popularity. Although they were also suffering some issues, the issues were minor compared to their V6 competition.
Generation 7 Dodge Charger – 2011 Facelift
The 2011 model refresh, or what Dodge calls the generation 7 of the Charger. Even though it is basically the same car under the hood. This refresh has brought some novelties like better quality interiors, new design lines that were more modern and up to date. There were also engine updates that bumped up the numbers by quite some margin.
The SE and SXT base models came with the new Pentastar V6 engine. This engine bumped up the numbers from the old base V6 engine, coming at 300 horsepower and 260lb-ft respectively.
Then was the RT model that used the same old 5.7 Hemi, but updated at 370 horses and 395 lb-ft of torque. And before the Hellcat was introduced, the most powerful Hemi was the 6.4-liter version from the SRT and the Scat Pack making a decent 525 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
On the top of the line and what is regarded as the most powerful sedan on the planet today. Is the 6.2-liter HEMI making a gigantic 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. All this was made possible by supercharging of course.
Although the Dodge Charger is a muscle car. It is quite known for its overall reliability. It comes new from the factory with a three-year 36,000-mile limited warranty. And also with a 5-year warranty or 60,000 miles on the powertrain. These numbers tell you a lot about the Dodge Charger reliability.
According to J.D Power, the 2021 model of dodge charger gets an 89/100. And that is plenty to convince a buyer to go and get a Charger right away. Consumer Reports have also praised the model as a good purchase.
But, although the chargers nowadays are pretty much bulletproof. In the first years of production, there were many problems. But most of them are resolved by now. Although there are still some minor issues left to be resolved on the model.
Even though the Dodge Charger reliability issues are not many when we see the whole package. There are still some problems concerning their powertrains. And we are going to discuss them in one of the next chapters. But first, let’s talk about the interior.
Let’s just say that the 90s and the early 2000s were not the pinnacle of quality interiors. Many of the carmakers at the time were using some cheap plastics that was hard as a rock and didn’t have any feel to it at all. Also, to add that this plastic was cracking like crazy, especially if left for years in the sun.
These early cars had pretty simple and not very good-looking interiors. They were used more as workhorses for the police and other government institutions rather than by someone who wanted to get a car to show off.
Dodge didn’t fix this problem until the restyle in 2011, which saw a major improvement and a saw a big usage of soft-touch materials. These upgrades have improved the styling and the overall impression of the car.
This resulted in the Charger gaining popularity among the younger audience and also the car guys, especially Mopar diehards. Along with the new trims like the Scat Pack and the new engine options. We witnessed a big increase in Charger sales.
In the last years, Dodge has found their target audience and tries to keep them satisfied as best as they can. With new trim levels and also more power. Power is never enough when it comes to muscle cars.
Electrical problems concerning the Dodge Charger were reported by Dodge owners. Some electrical components glitched out. These problems affected mostly the older models before 2014. And after 2014, there were no more reports of people having electrical issues with their Dodge Charger.
Some common malfunctions occur, such as broken power window regulators and power mirror motors. These things when used a lot, know to suffer by a big margin. So, if you plan to get one of the early models you may come across these issues.
Also, headlight and tail light issues were reported on the earlier models that are pre-facelift and use regular bulbs. These bulbs are known to burn and need regular changes. They are a fairly easy fix since they are readily available at your local parts store.
The rust issue was always a problem for Mopars, this problem haunts them since their inception. And up till lately when they resolved this issue by using more quality metal and better manufacturing techniques.
Users have reported rust issues on the rear wheel wells and also along with the rocker panels. This reportedly appears because Dodge sprays these places with foam underneath, in order to eliminate the road noise. But unfortunately, here moisture gets trapped and causes some rust bubbles to appear.
The rocker panels and the rear wheel wells basically rust from the inside out. As people who own these cars say, you just have to live with it.
The only way on how you can avoid this problem is to live in a place where there isn’t much rain and moisture on the roads. Also, avoid driving your car in the rain or snow. Drive your car in the dry weather, but that’s not that easy to do, so one minus for Dodge.
Dodge Charger Powertrain Issues
Chrysler engines are famous for their endurance and reliability. Although, there are some minor bugs that haunt these engines to this day. We are going to dive deep into each of their troubled engines and see what are these issues and how expensive are the fixes.
The Pentastar V6
The most troubled of the few is the Pentastar V6. Besides the Charger. this engine is installed in the Chrysler 300, the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Durango, Dodge Challenger, and other models.
It is a widely used engine but it has some troubling issues. Namely, the cylinder head failure. If you have an early FCA Pentastar 3.6 engine that was made between 2011-2013. It is a high probability that your engine head may fail soon. These failures occur usually on the left bank of the engine.
The bug that causes these head failures is the overheating of the valve seats on the second cylinder. This issue was addressed by mid-2013 with some hardened valve guides and seats.
FCA Chrysler has also increased the warranty on the models that had these engines by 10 years or 150,000 miles for the engines produced between 2011 and 2013.
Other problems that occur to this engine are the rocker arm issues. When they go bad, these rocker arms may cause tapping noises and misfires.
This problem was fixed but the fix was expensive. Mostly because it is labor-intensive. It can cost the owner from $500-$1500 to fix this issue.
There were also some cooling issues that were reported with this engine. This issue may cause the engine to overheat and eventually fail. The cost to fix this issue can come to a price of 200 to 800 dollars.
And last, we come to the oil pump failure. Oil pumps on this engine die off prematurely. The main symptom is the dropping of the oil pressure. This is a clear sign that your oil pump is dead. The simple solution is changing the oil pump with a new OEM replacement part.
So, to sum things up. This engine is one of the most troubled engines that Chrysler has offered. By now in 2021, the problems with the heads were sorted out, but the other issues may still be present.
If you are in the market for a second-hand Charger, stay away from the model year 2011 to 2013.
The 5.7 Hemi
The 5.7-liter HEMI is almost a bulletproof engine. Although there are a small number of issues that are troubling when it comes to this engine, and one of them may be a bit annoying.
The four biggest problems are:
- The HEMI Tick
- MDS Issues
- Exhaust manifold bolts that break
So, let’s get into these issues one by one. First, we can start with the annoying ticking problem. This problem is very common to HEMI engines. Some people and HEMI enthusiasts claim that this ticking is completely normal, but there is more to it.
The HEMI ticking may be caused by faulty lifters, seized lifter rollers, or exhaust manifold bolt failure. And the lifter roller is the main culprit for this issue.
This problem is hard to diagnose and requires some skill. The HEMI tick is not a big issue, since it doesn’t affect the engine health at the beginning. But slowly it can take the engine in the twilight zone and make it misfire and cause some check engine lights to appear on the dash.
The good thing is that this problem mostly appears on higher mile engines. If your HEMI Charger has above 100k+ miles then it’s probably started ticking. Here is a small video explaining this issue.
Another problem is the breaking of the exhaust bolts. This is a common problem for this engine and the bolts know to break. Some claim that the ticking noise can also be caused because of them.
And last is the MDS, or multi-displacement system. This system was included in the 2009 update of the engine. And makes use of a technology that shuts down four cylinders, in order to improve fuel economy.
But with every new technology, the MDS couldn’t escape the hiccups that come with that. MDS may cause some issues with the longevity of the engine and some think that this is one of the culprits for the engine tick, but nobody knows for sure. Only time will tell.
The 6.4 liter Hemi
The 6.4-liter HEMI or better known as the 392. This engine was the pinnacle of Chrysler’s SRT division when it came out in 2005. This engine is also troubled by minor issues. Just like its smaller brother, it shares the same common problems.
These problems include the famous engine tick, problems with the MDS System, misfires, and transmission failures. The transmission failure problem is something that is unique only with the 6.4 HEMI.
Since we discussed the issues about the MDS and the ticking in the previous chapter. Now we are going to learn more about the transmission failure issue, and why the 6.4 is eating through transmissions so rapidly.
This issue mostly happens on RAM trucks. So, if you have a Charger you shouldn’t worry about this, but even though we will explain more about it because you never know. Maybe in the future, you will buy a RAM truck.
As we said, this issue occurs to RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks. These trucks haul a lot and put a lot of stress on the transmission, and because of this, it may cause a premature failure.
The 6.4 can also misfire pretty frequently. The symptoms may be a rough idle, stutter, etc. And this may pop up some codes on the dash. The fix for this is fairly simple. New spark plugs and coils. But when you count all the plugs and coils, it adds up pretty quick!
Overall, the 6.4 is a bulletproof engine and a true workhorse. You will not make a mistake if you get a Charger with one of these engines.
There were not many issues with transmissions on the Dodge charger. And they do not affect the Dodge Charger reliability at all. Although some issues were reported with the TCM or transmission control module for the models until 2016. But a fix for this is available, so no worries.
We may draw a conclusion that, even if the Dodge Charger is a muscle car, it is a pretty much bulletproof car. The Dodge Charger reliability is on par with the best cars out there. And you will not make a mistake if you purchase one for yourself.
I will only advise you, to stay away from the model 2011-2013 that has the V6 Pentastar engine. As we explained. This engine is known to have catastrophic cylinder head failures caused by a design error. The other engines and transmissions are pretty much all excellent.
Also, not to forget if you get a HEMI Charger or Challenger with more than 100k+ miles, the ticking noise will always be there. So you will have to live with it. In my opinion, the Charger is great value for the price, because it offers sportiness with usability, and that is a killer combo.