When Dodge reintroduced one of the most legendary automobile models of all time, Mopar fans were sure they would get a true modern-day muscle car. And Dodge didn't disappoint. While the Dodge Charger is available with a wide range of efficient V6 and V8 engines for the practically-minded driver, there are also rip-snortin', tire-smokin' models across the range, capped off by the appropriately-named Hellcat.
Indeed, a Dodge Charger can be a good compromise between a comfortable and reliable family sedan while also offering the performance drivers don’t want to give up when it comes time to tote kids to soccer practice. but the key to a dependable family hot rod is knowing the right way to maintain and repair it so that it doesn’t break down unexpectedly. In this case, a Dodge Charger repair manual is your secret weapon to make sure you get the most out of this modern muscle machine without breaking the bank - at least on repairs.
How Many Miles Does a Dodge Charger Last?
The Dodge Charger can come equipped with several V6 engines or V8 engines and some models even feature All-Wheel Drive. When looking at the entire model range and engine options, one thing stands out—these cars are relatively reliable compared to similar makes and models.
Auto mechanics tell us that they regularly see V6 models with more than 250,000 miles on the road, and they don't even require significant service. Even the most powerful supercharged V8 models have demonstrated reliability exceeding 150,000 miles without any serious issues.
According to experts, the key to getting a long lifespan from a Dodge Charger is regular maintenance. Owners constantly changing the oil every 5,000 miles, regularly replacing everyday wear items like brake pads and suspension parts, and stay on top of check engine lights have few mechanical failures.
But of course, nothing is ever perfect in life and some models have known issues. Many of these problems may have been corrected by previous owners, while others can appear suddenly and without warning.
Seventh Generation (2011-Current) Frequent Problems
The newest models are considered average or above average in terms of initial build quality and long-term reliability. A vehicle with a documented service history is a better buy than one without evidence of repairs.
Some vehicles in the seventh generation have premature brake failure problems that can include severe damage to brake rotors. A repair can run anywhere from $40 for new pads to $1,000 for a complete brake replacement at a shop. But as usual, you can easily use a 2011 Dodge Charger repair manual like those found here, follow the step-by-step instructions to repair common brake problems, and save a bunch of money at the same time.
Suspension and Steering
Suspension and steering issues have also been identified. Often, these problems are associated with abnormal wear, which can be caused by various factors, including hard-driving, improper tire inflation, excessive braking, and other abusive habits. If this is your case, plan on replacing control arm bushings as regular wear items once the vehicle hits around 100,000 miles. The cost of replacing bushings and suspension parts will be determined by the particular part and other associated work that needs to be done at that time.
Defective airbag modules are common on the earlier seventh-gen models. Sensor failure can cause airbags to fail to deploy, particularly side curtain airbags. The issue is typically simple to correct by replacing the module and 2012 models have a factory recall. If your SRS light comes up, give a quick call to your dealer—they could replace the whole thing free of charge.
Early seventh-gen vehicles have frequent issues with premature alternator failure, often without warning from the on-board diagnostic system. A new factory or aftermarket alternator will typically resolve this issue. Expect to pay around $200 for a new unit. Of course, the biggest part of the bill will be labor time. But to save on that, get your hands on a 2008 Dodge Charger repair manual. It will show you everything you need to know to diagnose and fix problems with the charging system without needing to pay a mechanic.
Sixth Generation (2006-2011) Frequent Problems
Buyers of used sixth-gen Chargers should be aware of some common problems. An older Charger may require more repairs depending on the age and mileage, particularly if the vehicle hasn't been well maintained.
Transmission and Shifter
One of the most common problems with sixth-gen Chargers is issues with the transmission. Common complaints include slipping in gear, hard shifting, and loss of acceleration. Problems with shifter failure, particularly in the 2006 models, are very common.
Transmission issues typically relate to the Transmission Control Module (TCM). A frequent solution is to have the module reflashed by a dealership service center. Shifter problems are remedied with an aftermarket rebuild kit that corrects the specific issue.
Both the engine and transmission control modules are also known to fail. Problems can be erratic and nonsensical, including intermittent idle, shifting, and acceleration issues, check engine and warning lights that falsely light, plus emissions problems. The solution begins with a factory reflash but may require the replacement of the PCM or TCM. Expect to pay more than $400 for a new module.
Premature Engine Failure
Some 2006 Chargers have a known issue that causes engines to fail prematurely, usually between 65,000 and 100,000 miles. If the engine failure doesn't result in severe damage to essential components, you can always rebuild the engine. However, most of the time, you will need to buy a replacement motor. An engine can cost as little as $1,500 or as much as $40,000, depending on the owner's particular model and performance desires (the Hellcat is especially pricey).
Are Dodge Chargers High Maintenance?
Every car will be different, and how much maintenance is needed will depend on how previous owners treated the vehicle. Regular service like oil changes and brake repairs are no more or less expensive than other contemporary vehicles.
RepairPal.com gives the Dodge Charger an overall reliability rating of 3.5/5. It came in 10th of 12 vehicles considered in the class. The estimated annual repair cost is about $634, which is not that bad at all.
JD Power also has the charger in high esteem, rating it 89/100 when it comes to reliability, placing it in the top 15 percent of sedans in the US.
US News gives the seventh-gen Charger a reliability score of 8.2/10.
All in all, we can say that the Dodge Charger is a relatively reliable vehicle, especially when compared with other similar offerings in its segment.
Is a Dodge Charger a Good First Car?
The Dodge Charger is a roomy sedan with plenty of power, even in V6 trim. But of course, it’s a big car with a big engine—it’s still a muscle car after all. It can be a good first car given the reliability scores, but you need to keep in mind that it needs to be properly maintained.
High-performance vehicles are simply not the same as a Corolla or older Civic that would just work as long as you kept the oil level full. Nonetheless, by doing most of the maintenance yourself using a Dodge Charger service manual, you will be able to keep this car in good running condition easily without costing you an arm and a leg.
Buying a used Dodge Charger as a family car that you can also enjoy once in a while is a good way to enjoy these modern muscle cars. Later models have improved features, including an upgraded infotainment unit that is superior to older ones. Just keep in mind that if you are thinking about buying a Dodge Charger to have fun with but also to use as a practical car, you should buy a Dodge Charger repair manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals to the dot. A bigger engine will always hurt your wallet more than a smaller one when it breaks.