Although the Dodge Charger doesn’t have the newest platform on the market, that’s actually played to the sedan’s benefit. Not only has the old-school design raised its popularity, it’s one of the most reliable American cars on the market. However, not every single Charger is exactly bulletproof. Some model years have had interior problems, others had engine issues. But there’s one more problem area that crops up in multiple Dodge Charger model years.
The 2011-2014 Dodge Charger’s steering problems
As part of its 2011 redesign, the Dodge Charger received a brand-new power steering system, Charger owner forum users report. This so-called ‘electro-hydraulic’ power steering was installed to improve fuel-efficiency because it wasn’t powered by the engine directly. Instead, a small electric motor connected to the ECU controlled the power steering fluid pump.
However, this design caused some headaches. For one thing, at low speeds the hydraulic pump doesn’t turn on, one Dodge Charger owner forum user reports. In addition, the EHPS design was also the catalyst for an extensive recall.
According to CarComplaints, the EHPS system put such a strain on the 2011-2014 Dodge Charger’s alternator, it could fail altogether. Without the alternator, drivers would lose power steering, braking assistance, stability control failure, and the engine could possibly stall. It was also possible for the alternator to short-circuit, the New York Times reports, and cause a fire.
The original recall only covered V6-equipped Dodge Chargers from the 2011-2014 model years, though other FCA vehicles were part of the recall as well. However, it was expanded to cover Chargers equipped with the 5.7-liter V8, too. CarComplaints notes several V8-equipped owners suffered power steering failure combined with alternator failure before the recall was expanded.
But, although the 2011-2014 Dodge Charger had power steering issues, earlier Chargers also had steering-related problems.
The Dodge Charger’s squeaky steering
The Charger was re-introduced into the market for the 2006 model year. And, as with many first-year models, it had some teething issues. Though, admittedly, the 2006 and 2007 Dodge Charger’s steering problems were somewhat minor.
RepairPal and Charger owner forum users note that 2006 and 2007 Dodge Chargers can suffer from a squeaky steering column. And this issue also crops up in other Dodge models in the 2006-2008 model year range. The driver will turn the wheel, and they’ll hear a squeak. Others, CarComplaints reports, complained of moaning or groaning, especially at idle.
The 2006 and 2007 Dodge Chargers were recalled for other problems, most notably premature engine failure. However, the steering system was not one of them.
Are these problems fixable?
In terms of the 2006 and 2007 Dodge Charger’s squeaking, there does appear to be a solution. A Dodge technical service bulletin noted that the steering column shaft seal could be poorly lubricated. Over time, dirt would get into the seal, the grease would rub away, and the steering would squeak. The solution there is just to add the correct lubricant, RepairPal notes.
In addition, one Charger owner forum user noted that the 2006-2007 Chargers’ rubber lines could degrade over time, and get caught in the fluid tank. From there, the debris could travel elsewhere in the system, creating noise and disrupting fluid flow. The solution there is to replace the lines, clean the system, and install fresh fluid.
The 2011-2014 Dodge Chargers should have all been recalled by now. However, the cars can still suffer power steering problems. Charger owner forum users report that the EHPS system’s tank is rather small. During vigorous driving, the fluid can overheat, creating gas bubbles, lowering the fluid level, and disrupting system pressure. This can manifest, Autoblog reports, as just a heavier steering wheel, or as a groaning or whining noise.
If the power steering fluid level gets too low, it can damage the entire system, requiring a complete replacement. Fortunately, the solution is rather simple. First, crank the wheel hard to one side, and open the power steering fluid tank cap. If there’s any gas in the system, it should vent. Next, pour in replacement fluid.
Does the latest Charger have these problems?
Fortunately, these steering problems seemed to have been resolved in the latest Dodge Charger models. For one, Autotrader reports, all but the Hellcat models switched to purely-electric power steering in the 2015 model year. CarComplaints notes this system can still fail, but it’s a fairly rare occurrence. In addition, grinding noises from the steering column can also be suspension-related.
The 2015 Charger only had 2 steering-related complaints on CarComplaints, and the 2016 model only 1. 2017 and later Dodge Chargers have had no recorded steering problems on CarComplaints. Due to the 2016 Charger’s other reliability issues, the 2017 and later models are safer used purchases.
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