The Canadian/American-made Dodge Challenger is the name of three different generations of automobiles produced by American automobile manufacturer Dodge. It’s a car that we’ve written about extensively, and today we’ll continue that by looking at what kinds of transmissions this car uses. Let us start with a quick answer:
The third-generation Dodge Challenger manufactured from 2008 onwards has a 4-speed 42RLE automatic or a 5-speed W5A580 automatic for the 3.5L or 3.6L engine. The 2008 – 2014 Challenger had the W5A580 5-speed automatic or Tremec TR6060 for The 5.7L or 6.1L HEMI V8. From 2015 onwards, all Challengers with 5.7, 6.1, and 6.4L engines have an 8-speed 8HP70 or Tremec TR6060. The 6.2 V8 Hellcat has an 8HP90 or Tremec TR6060 transmission.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we’ll talk about the different transmissions used in every generation of the Challenger. After that, we’ll take a deep dive into the third generation of this car and see how long these transmissions last, their specifications, and of course, their significant problems. Finally, we’ll give recommendations for transmission fluid. Read on!
- 3- or 4-speed manual
- 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic
- 5-speed manual
- 3-speed automatic
- 4-speed automatic 42RLE (2009)
- 5-speed automatic W5A580 (2008–2014)
- 8-speed automatic 845RE, 8HP70, 8HP90 (2014–present)
- 6-speed manual Tremec TR6060 (2008–present)
Most transmissions in Dodge Challengers that were produced after 2008 are reliable, but there are exceptions like certain models of the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The 845RE, 8HP70, 8HP90, and Tremec TR6060 transmissions should last between 180.000 – 250.000 miles depending on the use of the car. The 42RLE and W5A580 are also capable of reaching these benchmarks. However, they have shown to be less reliable and may need replacement after 80.000 miles.
Average transmission repairs can cost about $900 with prices that range from $300 to $1,500 depending on what type of repair is required to be completed. For instance, new transmission clutches will cost around $1,150, with average costs that range from $800 to $1,500.
Major transmission repair can quickly cost $1,000 to $2,000 in just the labor and could take as little as a couple of days or up to a month to finish if you’re waiting on parts to come in.
Most commonly, replacement prices might range from 2500$-3000$. There is not a significant difference between the repairing and replacement of transmissions if the damage is extensive.
- 42RLE transmissions costs around $1.750 to $2.500
- W5A580 transmissions costs around $2.540.
- 845RE transmissions range from $2.800 – $3.300
- 8HP70 transmissions range from $1.800 – $2.400
- 8HP90 transmissions range from $4.000 – $5.000
- Tremec 6060 transmissions range from $3.000 – $3.500
The 42RLE is a problematic transmission because the design of the unit is not that good. Below we’ve outlined the major problems and the most likely causes:
- Poor shifting due to the use of Dexron or Mercon transmission fluid. The 42RLE should only use ATF+4 Synthetic Type 9602 automatic transmission fluid.
- Limp home mode being activated for no apparent reason. This means the transmission is stuck in first and second gear and can’t move further. Most likely caused by a defective sensor that makes the transmission think it’s in danger when it’s not.
- Poor shifting not caused by the transmission fluid is most likely caused by a solenoid or valve stuck in the valve body, a computer malfunction, or a pump failure.
- Random transmission downshifts caused by a defective lower or upper speed sensor.
- Rough 1-2 shifts which normally can be solved by changing for the proper transmission fluid. Also make sure to change the filter to ensure all old fluid is out of the system.
- Rough shifts and slipping of the transmission with the following ECU codes stored: P0750, P0755, P0760, P0765, P0846, P0871, P0841. Caused by corrosion in the 10 pin solenoid harness connector or a wiring issure between the transmission control module and the engine control unit. Changing the solenoid and/or rewiring is the way to fix this.
- 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.
845RE / 8HP70 / 8HP90
The 845RE, 8HP70, and 8HP90 transmissions installed in the Dodge Charger are excellent transmissions with very few reported problems. By performing regular maintenance, using the right types of gas, and generally taking care of your vehicle, it should last a long time.
The Tremec TR6060 is a solid transmission in general. However, keep in mind that shifting with this unit is considered to be harsh and difficult. Don’t expect a relaxed, smooth ride, and be prepared to work for proper shifting. There’s one problem with this transmission that has been mentioned numerous times:
- Harsh shifting from 1-2 and the transmission grinding when trying to shift into second gear. Early production TR-6060s had this problems because of the second gear brass synchro rings. These caused missed shifts, improper break-in, or stationary burnouts. Later, more fault tolerant carbonized rings were installed by Tremec which fixed the problem.
Differences between Transmissions
- The 42RLE was introduced in 2003 and a modification of the original 42LE which is part of the Ultradrive series. The 42RLE is a 4-speed longitudinal rear-wheel drive automatic.
- The W5A580 is a 5-speed automatic. This was a Chrysler adaptation of the ZF 5HP30 assembly, which was first labelled as the NAG1.
- The 845RE is Chryslers version of the original 8HP45 and was introduced in 2013.
- The 8HP70 is and 8-speed longitudinal automatic transmission that has a torque handling limit of 700 newton-metres (516 lbf⋅ft), and weighs 87 kilograms (192 lb).
- The 8HP90 is and 8-speed longitudinal automatic transmission that has a maximum input torque up to 900 Nm, or 664 lb-ft.
- The Tremec TR6060 is a 6-speed manual transmission derived from the Tremec T-56 and it has a maximum input torque of 700 lb-ft. It has a wet weight of 121 lbs.
Transmission Fluids and the Dodge Challenger
When we notice the functioning of the transmission system, the transmission fluid is a critical component of the system’s operation and overall performance. Its function is to lubricate the mechanical parts, maintain fluid pressure, cool, prevent oxidation, condition the gasket, and prevent rust.
So it is significant that you keep check of transmission fluid. It would be best if you changed transmission fluid routinely. However, if you can’t do it for some reason, change it every 30,000 miles.
- The 42RLE and W5A580 use ATF+4 Synthetic Type 9602.
- The 845RE, 8HP70 and 8HP90 use QuantumBlue and they are not compabile with ATF+4.
- Tremec TR6060: Tremec HP-MTF or Royal Purple 01512 Synchromax High Performance Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid
The Dodge Challenger has changed a lot over its three generations, and a big part of that change is in its transmissions. From the early 4-speed to the latest 8-speed in the powerful Hellcat, each transmission choice impacts how the car feels and drives. Especially in the third generation, we see a range of options tailored for different engines and performances. By diving deep into this topic, we’ve learned about the lifespan, strengths, and common issues of these transmissions. And remember, using the right transmission fluid is key. All in all, while the Challenger is known for its power, it’s the behind-the-scenes tech, like the transmission, that really makes each ride special.
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!