The 5 Most Reliable Used Dodge Challenger Years (and 1 to Beware Of)
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 (listed in order of reliability)
- Beware of the 2012 Challenger — it’s the most problematic
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 Challenger models offer near-new performance with more attractive 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, one model year can be problematic.
If you want the most reliable used Dodge Challenger, consider a 2020 model
Once upon a time, the Challenger was a Consumer Reports “never buy.” But Dodge improved its reliability over the years. And if you want the most reliable used Dodge Challenger, find a 2020 model.
According to CarComplaints.com, the 2020 Challenger is one of the two least problematic model years. The site lists only 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 received that fix by now. Otherwise, this used muscle car is solid.
A used 2020 Dodge Challenger also offers essentially all the 2022 model’s trims. For instance, you can find it in Widebody form with and without the Scat Pack 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 worries you, consider a manual transmission model. Furthermore, if you’re concerned about safety, find one with the Driver Convenience Group, which adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and other advanced driver-assistance systems.
But regardless of which version you get, a used 2020 Dodge Challenger should be a reliable iron horse.
Can’t find a used 2020 model? The 2019 Dodge Challenger is also reliable
Another used Dodge Challenger model year is as reliable as the 2020. Likewise, the 2019 Challenger has only one reported problem. But this issue is rust-related control arm failure on a Hellcat model. Again, this problem 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 recalled 2019 models might have rearview display failure and non-functional instrument cluster warning lights. Again, though, affected Challengers should be fixed by now.
Overall, a used 2019 Dodge Challenger is a reliable muscle car. Apart from the Super Stock version and some wheel/color options, the 2019 is virtually identical to the 2020 model. It’s also the first year for the 797-hp Hellcat Redeye and its Demon-derived components.
Additionally, Dodge updated the Hellcat models’ launch control systems and added line-lock for dragstrip junkies. Plus, 2019 Challenger R/T models come standard with the Super Track Pack, which adds sportier suspension and sharper steering, among other features.
A used 2021 Challenger is also a solid choice
It might seem odd that the newest used Dodge Challenger on this list isn’t at the top. However, the 2021 Challenger has a few more reported issues than the 2020 and 2019 models. Besides complaining about automatic transmission clunks, some owners had issues with the A/C randomly turning on and the stability control randomly turning off. However, these problems are limited to the V6-powered GT and SXT models.
As for recalls, the 2021 Challenger is better than the 2019. In addition to exhibiting a similar windshield bonding problem, affected models have a software-related recall regarding the instrument cluster. But the latter concerns only 135 vehicles. And recalls don’t necessarily make a car unreliable.
There’s a simple solution to these issues, though: Get a used 2021 Dodge Challenger with a V8. It’s Mopar’s flagship engine. But even if you find a V6-powered 2021 Challenger, it should still be reliable, not to mention easier on gas. And because it’s newer, 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 fourth spot on the used Dodge Challenger reliability list is the 2018 model. It has more problems and complaints on CarComplaints.com than the 2020 model.
Owners note 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. CarComplaints.com and Vehicle History name the 2018 Dodge Challenger one of the most reliable used model years. It’s also one of the most affordable used Challengers, even in today’s market. Furthermore, it has solid reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.
In addition, 2018 is the first year of the Hellcat Widebody and the first year all Challengers received standard backup cameras. Buyers could upgrade to 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 plenty to like about used 2018 Dodge Challenger models. And though they’re not the most reliable, they’re far from the worst.
The 2017 Challenger also ranks high in reliability
Speaking of not being the worst, a used 2017 Dodge Challenger isn’t, either. Although it has more reported problems than the 2018, the 2017 has fewer overall complaints. Plus, the problems are mostly related to the interior accessories: non-functioning Bluetooth radios, infotainment freezes, frayed headliners, etc.
In addition, the 2017 Challenger was included in the previously mentioned cruise control recall. Dodge also recalled it over the transmission popping out of Park and engine oil cooler line leaks. Still, most affected cars should be repaired by now.
Overall, a 2017 Dodge Challenger should be a reliable used muscle car. It’s arguably the most dated of the used models in this roundup, as Dodge gave the Challenger lineup new grilles in 2018. However, all 2017 SRT models came standard with 8.4-inch touchscreens and navigation; this screen was optional on lower trim levels. 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.
You might want to avoid a used 2012 Dodge Challenger
Although recent Dodge Challenger model years are generally reliable, older versions are notably less so. But if there’s one older used Challenger you should approach with caution, it’s a 2012 model.
The 2012 has the most complaints and problems of any modern Challenger model on CarComplaints.com. Furthermore, it’s smack in the middle of Vehicle History’s most problematic Challenger years, 2011–2013. They have experienced repeated alternator failures and issues with the then-new eight-speed automatic transmission. Owners have also complained of warped brake rotors, infotainment problems, and exterior trim issues.
So, although several used Dodge Challenger years are reliable, the same can’t be said for 2012.