Used reliable and unreliable Dodge Challenger model year guide highlights:
- Because it’s been in production relatively unchanged for so long, the Dodge Challenger is generally a reliable used car
- The most reliable model years are 2020, 2019, 2021, 2018, and 2017
- Avoid the 2012 Challenger, it’s the most problematic model year
The Dodge Challenger is a simple beast, but its old-school approach to speed and style is precisely what makes it popular. And because it hasn’t changed much over the years, used Dodge Challengers offer near-new performance with lower price tags. This lack of significant revision also means Dodge has ironed out most of its issues, especially in recent years. But while secondhand Challengers are generally reliable, there is one model year you should steer clear of.
If you want the most reliable used Dodge Challenger, get a 2020 one
Once upon a time, the Challenger was a Consumer Reports ‘never buy.’ But as noted earlier, Dodge improved its reliability over the years. And if you want the most reliable used Dodge Challenger, find a 2020 model.
According to CarComplaints, the 2020 Challenger is one of the two least-problematic model years. The site literally lists one problem: a random automatic transmission clunk that seemingly no other owner has experienced. There was also one recall for inadequate windshield bonding but affected models should have gotten fixed by now. Otherwise, this is one solid used muscle car.
A used 2020 Dodge Challenger also offers essentially all the 2022 model’s trims. You can find it in Widebody form with and without the Scat Pack, for instance, or get a V6 GT or SXT with AWD. And of course, there are several Hellcat models, including the Redeye. In addition, if that lone automatic clunk has you worried, just get a manual model. Furthermore, if you’re worried about safety, find one with the Driver Convenience Group, which adds things like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
But regardless of which version you get, a used 2020 Dodge Challenger should be one reliable iron horse.
Can’t find a used 2020 Dodge Challenger? A 2019 one is just as reliable
There’s another used Dodge Challenger model year that’s just as reliable as the 2020 one, though. The 2019 Challenger has just as many problems on CarComplaints as the 2020 model, i.e., one. This one was for rust-related control arm failure on a Hellcat model. But again, this issue appears to be isolated, or at least uncommon.
Admittedly, the 2019 Challenger had a few more recalls than the 2020 model. In addition to front tire damage, some 2019 models were recalled over rearview display failure and non-functional instrument cluster warning lights. Again, though, affected Challengers should be fixed by now.
Overall, though, a used 2019 Dodge Challenger makes for a reliable muscle car. And apart from the Super Stock model and some wheel/color options, it’s virtually identical to the 2020 model. It’s also the first year for the 797-hp Hellcat Redeye and its Demon-derived components.
Dodge also updated the Hellcat models’ launch control systems and added line-lock for dragstrip junkies. Plus, 2019 Challenger R/Ts come standard with the Super Track Pack, which adds sportier suspension and sharper steering, among other things.
A 2021 Challenger is also a solid choice
It might seem odd that the newest used Dodge Challenger isn’t at the top of the list. But according to CarComplaints, the 2021 Challenger has a few more issues than the 2020 or 2019 models. Besides some automatic transmission clunks, some owners had issues with the A/C randomly turning on and the stability control randomly turning off. However, all these problems are limited to the V6-powered GT and SXT models.
As for recalls, the 2021 Challenger is better than the 2019 one. In addition to a similar windshield bonding problem, there was also a software-related recall regarding the instrument cluster. But the latter only affects 135 vehicles. And recalls don’t necessarily make a car unreliable.
There’s a solution to these issues, though: get a used V8-powered 2021 Dodge Challenger. To quote VehicleHistory, it’s Mopar’s “flagship engine.” But even if you do get a V6 2021 Challenger, it should still be reliable, not to mention easier on gas. And because it’s almost a brand-new car, a used 2021 Challenger offers virtually all the 2022 model’s bells and whistles. The only thing missing is the standard deluxe security alarm.
Used 2018 Dodge Challengers are reliable, too
Moving along to the #4 spot on the used Dodge Challenger reliability list is the 2018 model. It has more problems on CarComplaints than the 2020 model, as well as more complaints.
Owners noted faulty key fobs, power steering leaks, emergency brake issues, radio display faults, and one case of a slipping transmission. Also, Dodge recalled the 2018 Challenger three times for voltage regulator failure, cruise control issues, and incorrect transmission parts. So, does that mean you shouldn’t buy one?
In short, no. Both CarComplaints and VehicleHistory name the 2018 Dodge Challenger as one of the most reliable used model years. It’s also one of the most affordable used Challengers, even in today’s crazy market. Furthermore, it has solid reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.
In addition, 2018 is the first year for the Hellcat Widebody, as well as the first year all Challengers got standard backup cameras. You could option Brembo brakes and the Performance Handling Package on some V8 models for the first time, too. And a few trims got larger touchscreens.
So, there’s still a lot to like about used 2018 Dodge Challengers. And while they’re not the most reliable models, they’re not basket cases, either.
2017 Challengers rank high on reliability as well
Speaking of not being a basket case, a used 2017 Dodge Challenger won’t be, either. Although it has more problems than the 2018 one on CarComplaints, it has fewer overall complaints. And the problems are mostly related to the interior accessories: non-functioning Bluetooth radios, infotainment freezes, frayed headliners, etc.
The 2017 Challenger was also part of the previously-mentioned cruise control recall. Also, Dodge recalled it over the transmission popping out of Park and engine oil cooler line leaks. Still, and say it with me now, most affected cars should be repaired by now.
Overall, though, a 2017 Dodge Challenger should be a reliable used muscle car. It’s arguably the most dated of the used models, as Dodge gave the Challenger lineup new grilles in 2018. However, all 2017 SRT models come standard with 8.4” touchscreens and navigation; this screen is optional on ‘lesser’ models. And while the T/A models aren’t Widebodies like the 2022 version, they still have wider wheels, grippier tires, and on the T/A 392, Brembo brakes.
Absolutely avoid used 2012 Dodge Challengers
Although recent Dodge Challenger model years are generally reliable, older ones are notable less so. But if there’s one older used Challenger you should absolutely not buy, it’s a 2012 one.
The 2012 model year has the most complaints and problems on CarComplaints of any modern Challenger model. Furthermore, it’s smack in the middle of VehicleHistory’s most problematic Challenger model years, 2011-2013. These cars suffered repeated alternator failures and had issues with the then-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Owners also experienced warped brake rotors, infotainment problems, and exterior trim issues.
So, while used Dodge Challengers can be reliable, the 2012 models generally aren’t.
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