What kind of problems does a seventh-generation Dodge Charger have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a Charger. However, let’s first start with a quick answer.
Dodge Chargers have had major electrical problems which have caused engine stalling, loss of power steering, and loss of braking. Furthermore, Chargers have had problems with leaking fuel pumps, complete engine failure, hard shifting or slippage during shifting, and separation of the driveshaft.
That was the most straightforward answer possible. In the article below, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. This includes identifying it, fixing it, and discussing how much it costs to repair. Read on!
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1. The Electrical System Is A Disaster
If one part of the Canadian-made Charger is widely complained about, then this has to be its electrical system. While doing our research, we found several hundreds of complaints regarding how this system is designed and how it functions. We’ve been able to identify seven major pain points that have led to nine recalls over the past decade or so.
Engine Stalling And Risk Of Fire Due To Faulty Alternator
One of the most common problems with the electrical system was a problem with the alternator. Dodge issued four recalls for this, mainly applicable to the 2011 – 2014 model years. The problem was that a specific part of the alternator would give out because of the load placed on it by the electric hydraulic power steering (EHPS). The NHTSA described the technical details as follows:
The root cause was determined to be thermal fatigue in the silicon diode within the alternator rectifier bridge, due to a combination of high operating temperatures and cyclical system load conditions, induced by the EHPSSource
As said, four recalls were issued for this problem. First, Dodge only recalled specific engines and alternators, whereas later, the recalls became larger and included more engine and alternator types.
These recalls were necessary because a failure of the alternator means the battery can’t be charged appropriately, which means the fuel injectors will stop running. This leads to stalling while driving. Furthermore, the overloading of the specific silicon diode meant it was at risk of catching fire (which it did). The recalls looked as follows:
- 14V634000: In October 2014, Dodge issued a recall for the 2011 – 2014 Dodge Charger equipped with a 3.6L engine and 160 amp alternator.
- 16V739000: In July 2016, Dodge also recalled 2011-2014 Dodge Charger Police vehicles with a 220 amp regulator.
- 17V435000: In July 2017, the earlier recalls proved insufficient, and Dodge started recalling the 2011 – 2014 Chargers again. Specifically, Chargers equipped with electro-hydraulic power steering (EHPS), a 5.7L or a 3.6L engine, and a 160, 180, or 220 amp alternator.
- 17V741000: In November 2017, Dodge issued a final recall for specific 2014 models with a 3.6L engine and a 160 amp regulator.
Unable To Disable Cruise Control
Another problem with the electrical system that led to dangerous situations was that drivers could not disable cruise control by depressing the brake pedal or manually turning the system off. This meant the vehicle would maintain its current speed into other traffic.
Dodge issued two recalls for this shortly after each other that included the 2014 – 2018 Chargers. The first recall started in May of 2018 (18V332000), and the second one began in July 2018 (18E053000). Both recalls stated the same problem. This was that the CAN-C bus (the area of the car that’s responsible for having the Powertrain Controle Module (PCM) communicate with the Cruise Control) was susceptible to shorting.
If the short in the CAN-C bus happened while the cruise control requested the vehicle to speed up, this request would then be locked into the PCM, meaning the vehicle could not stop unless the driver put the transmission into neutral.
Engine Stalling Due To Voltage Regulator
In August of 2018, Dodge had to recall Dodge Chargers of the same year because of a faulty voltage regulator chip on the electronic circuit board (recall number 18V524000). The powertrain control module would fail when this chip eventually failed, which led to no-starts, start-and-stall, or engine stalling while driving. The solution involved replacing and reprogramming the powertrain control module.
Instrument Cluster Failure
In March of 2019, Dodge recalled Dodge Chargers of the same model year under recall number 19V203000. The problem with this recall was that the instrument cluster of the Chargers wouldn’t illuminate. This meant drivers wouldn’t receive warnings about the condition of their vehicle. The solution was relatively easy and involved updating the instrument cluster software.
Loss Of Power Steering
Another prevalent complaint that Dodge Chargers have is the complete loss of power steering. The Chargers that have this problem all have electric hydraulic power steering. The 2011 – 2016 models are the most complained about, but the 2017 – 2019 models still seem to have the problems.
What’s bothering owners the most here is that Dodge never issued a recall for this problem which meant owners were left to sort things out by themselves. Luckily, one owner was able to fix the problem on his 2018 Charger. He explained it as follows:
So after some trial and errors, I believe we have found the issue. The front passenger side, there is a connector. The insulation and wire seems to have had a break in it.
We were able to take an Ethernet cord from the star connector and run it straight to the power steering module rack. This caused the the shifter and power steering light to go away, granting us with power steering once more.Source
To make things even better, he even recorded a video detailing exactly where this cable can be found in the Charger. Have a look below:
Complete Loss Of Braking
In May 2012, Dodge issued a recall under number 12V197000 for 2011 – 2012 Dodge Chargers. These models had a power distribution center (the component responsible for bringing power from the primary source to remote electronical systems) that was susceptible to overheating.
In the 2011 – 2012 models, overheating of the PDC led to the illumination of the electronic stability control warning lights and loss of the ESC and ABS because the fuse responsible for these functions would give out. The solution involved dealers relocating the ESC/ABS fuse, which prevented the overheating issue.
Loss Of Headlights
The same problem that caused the loss of ESC/ABS that we just mentioned also caused the complete loss of low-beam headlights. In these 2011 – 2012 models, the bulb harness connector would overheat, which would cause this loss of low-beam headlights.
These cars were recalled in February of 2012 under recall number 12V042000. The solution involved replacing the headlight jumper harness, which prevented the overheating of the bulb harness connector.
2. Five Recalls For The Airbags
The Dodge Chargers made between 2011 – 2015 have had five recalls for the airbags. However, most of this was not the fault of Dodge. Three of these recalls included the recall of Takata airbags (installed in tens of millions of vehicles in the United States).
The three recalls that involved the Takata recall were issued under numbers 18V021000, 19V018000, and 16V352000. These recalls involved the passenger frontal airbag inflator. Specifically, these inflators contained propellant that was susceptible to degradation when exposed to high humidity and high temperatures (or temperature cycling) over a prolonged period of time.
This could result in the inflator exploding either during a crash or at a random moment. The explosion of the inflator meant that metal fragments could shoot through the airbags and into the car’s exterior (causing injury or death).
Besides the Takata recalls, there were two Charger recalls caused by design or build-quality problems from Dodges’ side. The first recall was issued under number 15V467000.
It was related to the 2011 – 2014 Chargers. The side impact sensor was too sensitive, which meant the side airbag inflatable curtains and seat airbags, together with the seat belt pretensioners, would deploy unexpectedly. Recalibrating the occupant restraint control module solved this problem.
The final recall was issued for 2011 – 2012 Chargers under recall number 13V118000. The problem here was the malfunctioning of the seat-side airbag and the illumination of the airbag warning light. This problem was caused by improperly sized terminal crimps on the seat side-airbag wiring harness. The solution involved replacing the airbag wiring harnesses of the driver and passenger seats.
3. Fuel Leaking From Passenger Side Fuel Pump
Owners of early seventh-generation Chargers (especially the 2011 – 2016 models) have repeatedly complained about a strong gasoline smell in the car’s interior. Fixing this problem was more complicated than it should have been because Dodge never issued a recall for this problem (even though it was very widely spread).
Therefore, the owners of these Chargers went on to find a solution themselves. It turned out that the primary fuel pump, which was under the rear seat on the driver’s side of the car, was leaking gas through an electrical connector. This connector was located on top of the fuel pump. The fuel pump housing cover would melt or crack, which allowed gas to sip through. This typically was a problem when the gas tank was 3/4 or more filled.
Since this problem was never recalled, owners were left with replacing this fuel pump out of pocket, typically leading to an expense of $700 – $900.
4. Terrible Build Quality Of The Engine
Dodge Chargers typically have very unreliable engines. While doing our research found that the 2011 – 2016 models are the most complained about but that problems have persisted up until 2019.
One of the most common problems with the Charger is the 5.7 HEMI V8 paired with Chargers with MDS. MDS is a ‘multi-displacement system’ that allows Chargers to run on four cylinders to save fuel. However, this system doesn’t combine well with the timing chain of the 5.7 HEMI V8. The timing chains would break out of nowhere while running in MDS mode. This would lead to catastrophic engine failure.
Even more interesting is that Dodge did issue a recall for 2009 – 2012 Chargers with this engine and MDS equipped. Supposedly, when Dodge fixed the programming of the MDS, the timing chain issues were minimized. However, Dodge did use the same timing tensioner, timing arm guide, and timing chains for Chargers that were built up until 2019, and some 2013 – 2014 owners have still reported problems with the timing chain.
However, the timing chain issue wasn’t the only problem. All Chargers until the 2019 model year have had complaints with severe oil leaks (caused by a ruptured oil cooler hose), rough engine running due to a failed cylinder head, dropping valves, and so on. Overall, the engines of the Chargers aren’t its strongest point.
5. Hard Shifting, Stalling Or Slipping Out Of Gear
The seventh generation of the Dodge Charger has also had several problems with its powertrain. This generation has used many transmissions, but the main problem is the W5A580 transmission. Especially in the 2011 – 2018 models, this transmission has provided the following problems:
- Water entering the transmission via the dipstick tube which causes shuddering of the transmisson in 3rd, 4th and 5th gear. This problem is caused by a defective o-ring and replacing it will fix the issue.
- Poor shifting due to the use of Dexron or Mercon transmission fluid. The W5A580 should only use ATF+4 Synthetic Type 9602 automatic transmission fluid.
- Poor shifting or harsh engagement of the Drive or Reverse options. This is caused by design flaws of the engine, and a mechanic will need to figure out the exact problem.
- The torque converter gives out prematurely. This is caused by a faulty solenoid or clutch or fluid contamination. Replacing the torque converter is the only option.
However, this doesn’t mean the 8-speed automatics that were placed in the Chargers were completely without faults. Dodge had to recall 2012 – 2014 Chargers under recall number 16V240000. These vehicles had an eight-speed automatic transmission with a monostable gear selector that wouldn’t always be properly in the PARK position. However, the vehicle then did not warn the driver when exiting the vehicle. Updating the software fixed this problems.
Finally, 2013 Chargers with AWD and an 8HP45 transmission were recalled under number 13V610000. In these vehicles, the transmission output shaft was susceptible to fracturing. This transmission was replaced during the recall.
6. Severe Corrosion And Separation Of The Driveshaft
Another culprit of the powertrain of the Dodge Charger is its axles and the driveshaft. For the 2014 – 2017 Chargers a recall was issued under number 17V097000. The problem is described here:
The contact stated that the vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for an oil change and when the mechanic inspected the vehicle, he noticed that the universal driveshaft was corroded and needed to be replaced.Source
For the 2014 – 2017 models, there was an increased risk of the front driveshaft bolts loosening or seizing, which meant this driveshaft could disconnect. That would lead to a complete loss of power. Dealers were ordered to replace the driveshaft.
Problems continued when 2015 – 2018 Charger Pursuit Police vehicles (equipped with AWD and V8 engines) were recalled under number 18V281000 for practically the same problem. The same solution applied as well, which was replacing the front driveshaft.
7. An Endless Amount Of Recalls
By now, we’ve given you an extensive overview of the major problems the seventh generation of the Dodge Charger has had during its lifespan. However, there were many more (smaller) recalls for several model years as well. Below, we’ve given you an overview of what these recalls entailed and what model years were involved.
- 2011 – 2016 recall because the side of the body can fail while jacking the car (16V043000).
- 2012 Charger SRT8 recall because tire pressure monitor system does not indicate 25% lower than recommended tire pressure (12V004000).
- 2016 Charger equipped with Kidde plastic-handle or push-button ‘pindicator’ fire extinguishers were recalled because these fire extinguishers would become clogged (17V824000).
- 2018-2020 Dodge Charger Pursuit vehicles equipped with a “stealth mode” were recalled because the backup camera failed to display (20V512000).
- 2019 Chargers were recalled because an incompatible front wheel and brake package was installed, which allowed the front tire to contact the steering knuckle, causing tire damage (19V758000).
- 2020-2021 Dodge Chargers were recalled because the windshield was not bonded correctly to the vehicle, which allowed it to separate during a crash (21V516000).
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!