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Dodge Challenger Hellcat: Common Problems You Should Know

What kind of problems does a Dodge Challenger Hellcat usually have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the essential things you should keep an eye on when you’re in the market for a Dodge Challenger Hellcat. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat has problems with the security system, which caused it to be stolen easily (especially the 2015 models). Furthermore, the brakes and rotors can wear prematurely, the Tremec TR-6060 transmission can cause problems with higher mileages, and the suspension can have rust issues. Also, the 2015 – 2016 models had problems with the supercharger bearings breaking.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll let you know how to identify and fix it and how much it costs to repair. Read on!

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2015 Models Had A Security Problem

The earlier models that came out in 2015 had security problems making them vulnerable and a prime target to be stolen. A recall was announced to recalibrate the vehicle’s security to better cope with the latest technologies.

It is a good practice to ensure that the relevant recall and the system have been renewed. Ask the dealers for this piece of information and if it isn’t done, request them to have the new software update before buying your next ride. You can also update the vehicle’s software by looking up your VIN here and downloading and installing the update yourself.

A Small Amount Of Engine-Related Problems

Any vehicle that has seen track days will have mechanical issues. These components aren’t damage-proof and for sure aren’t 100% reliable. Most of these are given proper beating before leaving them for a second or a third owner. So it’s a must to have it thoroughly checked before making any further decisions.

However, we have to say that the 6.2L HEMI V8 engine used in all Hellcat generations is a reliable engine overall. Very few significant problems have been reported with this engine, and the ones reported were minor in scale and often resolved quickly. Below is a list of the issues that have been mentioned within the Hellcat community:

Supercharger problmes

In some 2015 and 2016 models, the supercharger would make abnormal whining noises, and the blower would give up, and the boost would not be adequate, costing $10,000 to fix, basically replacing the whole supercharger.

This was because bad bearings would cause the sound in the superchargers, and dealers would fix the problem by replacing the complete supercharger (hence the cost). The warranty did cover all of the claims for this issue, but the ones without a warranty are now a gamble in and of themselves.

When the bearings go out in these superchargers, it will have a grinding rattle as if metallic beads are being shaken inside the supercharger. A rebuild can cost about $2000, which is not negligible, but it’s better compared to a new one. The video below will tell you what the supercharger should sound like vs. what it sounds like with bad bearings.

Also read: The Oil Type, Weight, And Capacity Of A Dodge Challenger

Oil Cooler Hose Recall

Hellcats manufactured between February 06, 2017, through May 11, 2017, had a recall for the oil cooler hose. Dodge described the problem as follows in this recall:

The engine oil cooler lines on about 1,200 of the above vehicles may experience separation at the crimped joining of the rubber hose to the aluminum tube.

In the event of line separation, the driver may experience impaired visibility due to oil spray on the windshield, engine seizure, and the potential risk of a fire due to the engine oil contacting a hot surface. The rapid loss of engine oil resulting in impaired visibility may result in a crash without a warning.

The solution to this problem involved replacing the oil cooler supply and the oil cooler return line, which was done free of charge by the dealers.

One Good And One Slightly-Worse Transmission

You can find Hellcats with two kinds of transmissions. The first is a ZF 8HP90 (an 8-speed automatic), whereas the other one is a Tremec TR-6060 (a 6-speed manual). From 2022 onwards, Dodge only offers the 8-speed automatic with the Hellcat. However, what’s the quality like on these transmissions?

First, there’s the ZF 8HP90, an 8-speed longitudinal automatic transmission with a maximum input torque of up to 900 Nm or 664 lb-ft. What’s good to know about this problem is that very few issues have been reported. Furthermore, none of these problems seem to be systematic. Overall, owners are very satisfied with these transmissions.

On the other hand, the Tremec TR-6060 does have some reported problems that are worth noting. These include grinding in 1st and 2nd gear, clutch failure due to the high force placed onto them, and failure of the bearings. Practically all of them have to do with the force that’s put onto them in the Hellcats or the driving style of the owners.

If you’re in the market for a manual Hellcat, it’s essential to check for grinding and hard shifting. Furthermore, if you’re aware you have a sporty driving style, it can be worth upgrading the synchronizer rings, bearings, and seals since these are the parts that seem to give out first in the Tremec TR-6060.

Also read: Dodge Challenger Transmission: Overview, Problems, Fluids

A Selection Of Exterior Annoyances

Paint Is Chipping Away

It is common to see chipping paint here and there, especially around the hood scoop area. The chipping is due to the aerodynamic design that directs all the air into the hood scoop, which inevitably takes in a lot of dust particles, often having small pebbles as well, damaging this area.

The paint job on the Hellcat is quite delicate, and even the clay bar can leave smudges all over the place. So make sure that there are no dust particles on the surface and the vehicle’s cover is also clean without any dust particles in the fabric. Make sure to have a quality fabric that doesn’t retain any dust and wouldn’t damage the paint job.

Brakes And Rotors Wear Quickly

Being a muscle car weighing in at about 4500 lbs requires a lot of braking force, so the brakes on this incidentally go out pretty quick as they are doing their best to stop this massive and heavy vehicle. Now, this effort gives the brakes and rotors a very short lifespan.

These brakes and rotors are super expensive; a single OEM rotor would cost around $1,200; this is the price you pay for having the performance package from Brembo.

The depletion of the brakes largely depends on the type of driving you’re doing. If you are looking to have this as a daily, not going crazy, and keeping it in the limit, then your brakes will last longer, but if you want it as a weekend joy ride, then you are looking at a brake & rotor replacement every 20,000 miles, which goes down even further if you are using it for track days.

Brake Dust Builds Up

The brake setup on the Hellcat has a ‘problem’ with brake dust that makes the wheel look like they have been sprayed with dirty oil. And on top of that, the brakes will start making noises while braking into a corner which happens due to the dual rotors. This issue can be fixed by replacing it with ceramic ones.

Stock Brembo setup needs replacement now and then, so it’s better to go for the ceramic ones when it’s time to change the pads. 

Free Of Interior Problems

There aren’t any interior issues in this muscle car; most of the specs would make it more desirable. Especially the built-in code reader having its display on the gauge cluster. This integrated scanner tool makes life much easier and gives us knowhow of the vehicle, and no matter what concern there is, it’ll come up on the screen with tons of other stats as well.

The Suspension Is Questionable

Rust Issue

This is probably the most annoying problem that haunts the Hellcat owners. These suspension components are prone to rust as proper corrosion protection treatment wasn’t received, causing the suspension to wear out quickly. Just shy of 50k miles would be enough to ruin the suspension entirely.

Most of these hellcats are driven not as daily drivers but as a weekend fun ride and track day beast. Even though they are driven on dry paved roads, the issues that are there cost thousands of hard-earned dollars, so let’s take a look at how to get rid of these issues. Depending on which part is affected the most, the cost can be somewhere from $100-$1000.

First, you need to identify the issue, which is pretty easy, just take a look under the vehicle and check all the nooks and crannies for any prevailing rust. Rust spreads like an epidemic, so ensure adequate preventive measures to prevent further damage. The earliest models have faced a common control arm rust issue that costs around $100, as can be seen in the image below.

Poor Quality Control Overall

Even the newer models are equally guilty, which is nerve-racking. These shocks appear to be stored poorly under moisture, allowing them to get rusted, and the manufacturing plant put them in the vehicle regardless. It is a must to have them changed under warranty and almost a necessity to thoroughly inspect when buying new ones, don’t ever drive it out of the dealership without looking under the vehicle. 

Clunks and rattles

Rattling and clanking noises are heard when going over uneven surfaces, i.e., potholes or bumpy gravel. This is due to the premature wear and tear of the shocks/struts of the vehicle. Hellcats are known to have this strut problem that can occur even within 20k miles. The underlying cause might be rust, but it has happened regardless in many cases. These shocks would cost $1000-$2000+ depending on the type and brand you are going for.

The Wiring Throws Check Engine Lights

A lot of issues have been reported related to the check engine lights popping up for no reason, even when all the sensors are replaced. It happens due to some short circuit in the wiring harness. If sensors are not an issue, we are likely to have the following concern.

It is advised to check all the wires running in the system to see if there is some damage. Most of the time, these pesky lights keep on irritating owners because some rodent has chewed up the wires causing the ECU to think that the sensor is not working as the electrical signals have been cut off.

Once we have found the damaged wire, we can connect them using solder and then cover them with insulation using a heat gun. And last but not least, have some rodent prevention as well. This fix can be an easy DIY job that requires only connecting some wires that can also be done with ordinary tape if you don’t have a heat gun.

Many codes are there to inform the driver of any malfunction in the system, whether electrical or mechanical. Even though we have the codes that we can look up online, the diagnosis has to be done with a scanner tool before making further repairs.

Clunking Noises Coming From The Driveshaft

The driveshafts are weak, and they get twisted pretty quickly and make noises, or, in the worst-case scenario, they break entirely. It happens due to the overpowered engine linked to a weak drive shaft that would have been okay for the lower trim levels but not for a monstrous 700+ hp engine that vrooms under the hood.

The components with a stick have a higher probability of wearing out when compared to an automatic transmission. It is better to go for an after-market drive shaft that can handle all that torque. These driveshafts cost $1000+, and the price varies depending on the type and brand. It is recommended to go for the aftermarket ones as the factory ones are not up to mark.

Is The Hellcat A Reliable Car?

Now that we’ve discussed all the potential problems the Hellcat can have, you may wonder if the Challenger Hellcat is a reliable car or not. After doing research for this article, as well as this article (in which we learned that Hellcats can easily last 170,000 – 190,000 miles), we have to say the Hellcat is a reliable car.

Overall, the 2015 – 2016 models are the worst-performing model years of Hellcat. This is mainly because the car was newly designed, which always brings first-generation problems. Especially the rust on the control arms and the failing supercharging bearings were a problem.

However, from 2017 onwards, Hellcats have been reliable cars with almost no serious issues. The 6.2L HEMI V8 is a solid engine, and the ZF 8HP90 automatic is a solid transmission. If you want to opt for the Tremec TR-6060 6-speed manual, there are some culprits to be aware of, but nothing disastrous.

Finally, it’s essential to be aware of the fact that the Hellcat is a performance car and that these cars need maintenance. There’s simply no getting around that, but the Hellcat is a reliable performance car in the grand scheme of things.