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The Worst Dodge Challenger Model Year You Should Never Buy

The Dodge Challenger is an iconic sports car that has stood the test of time, maintaining popularity and status over multiple decades. But as things change year to year, new designs are implemented, and new tech emerges, a vehicle will never be exactly the same from one model year to the next.

The Dodge Challenger is no exception to this rule, with some model years more impressive than others. From best to worst, here’s the one model year to stay away from.

The worst Dodge Challenger model year of them all

Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is displayed during the New York International Auto Show
The Dodge Challenger | TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

CarComplaints.com has compiled all owner-reported problems for the Dodge Challenger across all model years, and in its model year comparison of the Dodge Challenger, it’s easy to tell that owners have more problems with certain model years than others. In fact, there’s one model year that plainly stands out as the worst of them all.

Out of all model years (2008-2019), Car Complaints names the 2012 Dodge Challenger as the worst model year. Not only does the 2012 Challenger receive the most owner-reported complaints by far, but Car Complaints experts also rank it as worst based on other factors like repair cost and severity of problems as well.

What do owners complain about the most with their Dodge Challengers?

The most-reported problem with the 2012 Dodge Challenger is also the most-reported Challenger problem overall. Electrical problems take up 22 of 65 total complaints, with 14 of those claiming the alternator went out, four claiming the engine won’t turn over, and four claiming power windows/doors killed the battery.

Conveniently, the alternator going out is Car Complaints’ overall worst-rated problem for the Dodge Challenger, earning a Severity Rating of 8.0 (out of 10). The 2012 Dodge Challenger has experienced six NHTSA-issued recalls, which include multiple recalls regarding the alternator across many model years. But electrical problems aren’t owners’ only problems, with 11 complaints about brakes, seven about interior accessories, five about the body or paint, and five about the windows or windshield.

Car Complaints ranks electrical problems as the Dodge Challenger’s overall worst problem category across all model years. The model years with the most-reported problems in the category other than the 2012 model year include both 2011 and 2013 model years. The 2012 Challenger receives 22 reports of electrical problems, while 2013 receives 20 and 2011 receives 14.

But almost every model year contains reports of electrical problems, with the most common issues occurring around 50,000 miles and costing an average of $700 to fix. Across all model years, the worst-ranked, most-severe problems fall into this category.

Owners of the Dodge Challenger have also reported problems on RepairPal, totaling 29 overall problems across a variety of model years. More than 110 reports have been made about transmission shift quality issues, while 20 reports claim noises occur while steering at low speeds.

Other reported problems with the Challenger include vibration in the steering wheel, an active check engine light, and a flashing ESP warning light. But with Car Complaints’ numerous reports of electrical problems, there seems to be a good correlation.

Are some Dodge Challenger models better than the others?

While the 2012 Dodge Challenger has the most complaints, the Challenger receives less overall complaints than other comparable vehicles and is an overall reliable sports car. While the 2012 model year currently holds 65 complaints, some model years seem to be less troublesome.

Car Complaints’ model year comparison shows that the earliest model year represented, the 2008 Challenger, surprisingly receives the least amount of complaints, with 8 total. This is except, of course, for the 2018 and 2019 model years, which are newer models and less likely to be experiencing problems yet anyway. Not-quite-new model years 2016 and 2017 fared well, with 12 and nine owner-reported complaints, respectively.