Best and worst Dodge Charger years — which to avoid
Learn about the Dodge Charger models you should steer clear of.
Buying a Dodge Charger can be one of the best decisions when it comes to used muscle cars, but only if you avoid the troublesome model years. There are some Charger models that have been deemed less reliable by owners, so we’ll help you steer away from those in this guide.
Our team did extensive research through NHTSA records and recalls to deliver factual information on the best years to buy and worst Dodge Charger years to avoid. We also considered the personal experiences of other drivers and have listened to what they have to say on popular Dodge Charger threads and forums, so let’s check out the details together.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
How we rated the best and worst Dodge Charger years
During our evaluation of the Dodge Charger years, we’ve used several key sources like NHTSA and Cars.com for complaints and details on recalls by year. That alone gave us some insight into the problematic model years, so we kept on going through driver complaints and experiences.
To do that, we’ve considered both official information and driver reviews on sites like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and even Consumer Reports. On the other hand, we used Dodge Charger forums to obtain the other side of the picture directly from previous Charger owners, so we’ve combined all these.
Of course, the Charger has been in production for too long for us to evaluate all the years, so we’ve included the latest generations after the hiatus of the model, and here’s what we were left with among the best and worst Charger years:
|Dodge Charger Generations
|Best Dodge Charger Years
|Worst Dodge Charger Years
|2006, 2007, 2008
|2013, 2015, 2017, 2020
Most common Dodge Charger problems
Even though most of the 6th and 7th gen Chargers have proved to be reliable, some model years are made worse than others. So, our team examined all the Toyota Tundra common problems that could affect your buying decision, and these are the most frequently reported Dodge Charger issues:
1. Check engine light illumination
We hear this one a lot and frankly, it’s not as disturbing as it may seem at first. Of course, you should still check the engine’s temperature and find the nearest safe place to stop your vehicle to inspect the situation and see if there’s any smoke from under the hood.
Usually, this warning light on a Charger isn’t caused by an engine fault, but rather due to a faulty thermostat. At this point, you may be wondering – what does a thermostat do in a car? We don’t blame you, so here’s a quick explanation – the thermostat regulates the flow of coolant in and out of the engine.
By doing this, it can keep the coolant within the engine or let it flow back into the radiator once the engine reaches operating temperature. However, while this one can be handled if noticed on time, some 2006 Charger models have been plagued by premature engine wear which caused the engine to stall completely. Such repairs may cost upward of $5,000 so it’s vital to avoid the affected models.
2. Turning noises and suspension issues
It’s unpleasant to hear any sort of unusual noises within the car’s cabin, especially when it comes to vital car systems. The suspension is certainly one of these and based on numerous driver statements, cracking, and similar noises when turning are common for various Charger models.
If the car makes a noise when turning, it can be a sign of loose bolts or worn-off suspension parts which are pretty common for this model. Because of this, it’s best if you can take it to a test drive before the purchase or at least have a trusted mechanic inspect the suspension components along with the steering rack and pinion which are known to cause issues to Charger owners.
3. Problems with the automatic transmission
One unexpected issue that may occur even with the seventh-gen Chargers is the transmission control module (TCM) fault. Because of the software error, some drivers have experienced rough gear shifts. To make things worse, the software error also affected the cruise control system and prevented drivers from disengaging it.
Since this can be a dangerous problem, Dodge issued an official recall in 2018 and notified drivers who drove their vehicles back to Dodge dealerships to get a software update. So, that’s one more reason to check the car before purchase and to see if the particular unit you are considering has been through the recall. We also recommend checking the previous Charger generations for any known transmission faults before you buy the car, just to be safe and avoid having to deal with expensive repairs.
4. Problems with the wiring
Short circuits are sadly not a rare occurrence for Dodge Charger drivers, so you should be ready for some electrical issues and problems with connections. Of course, these can easily be sorted out, but are still a huge drag to live through with your recently purchased Charger.
To tackle this issue, we suggest you visit a trustworthy car electrician to take a look at the car’s electrical system. Bad wiring and circuits can cause all sorts of issues including a faulty cruise control feature, failed A/C units, or even problems with a seized alternator.
Worst Dodge Charger years to avoid
Knowing about the worst years is one thing, but it’s also worth pointing out that the Charger was on hiatus from 1987 when the fifth generation ended production, to 2006 when the sixth-gen model was introduced. So, we’ll start with the sixth-gen since the previous models can already be considered classics and their reliability depends on the condition of each particular unit.
In case you are wondering which are the worst Dodge Charger years to avoid, here’s a list that we were left with after our research:
We’ll also go through each of these briefly as we discuss the problems that both generations after the hiatus have had.
Sixth-generation Dodge Charger (2006-2008 model years)
As mentioned, the sixth generation of the Charger started production in 2006 and it swiftly got into some problems. The 2006 model year is by far the worst one yet based on driver complaints, and it’s no wonder since driver reports indicated problems with the brake fluid leaks and the automatic transmission.
On top of that, we’ve seen a fair share of complaints regarding the axle hubs and electrical issues that concerned faulty ignition nods. Model years 2007 and 2008 were no better, while things took a quick turn when it came to the 2009 and 2010 model years.
These are by far the safest options for the sixth-gen Charger since there were a lot of issues and recalls in this period.
Seventh-generation Dodge Charger (2011-2012 and 2014 model years)
Besides the significant improvements in the interior and the exterior, the seventh-gen Charger also got a few updates that resulted in increased reliability. Still, drivers once again had to wait a few initial production years since the 2011, 2012, and 2014 models all suffered from the same problems.
Most notably, you’ll see reports of the bothersome check engine light, and it wasn’t just some situation where you could apply a trick to turn off the check engine light. Drivers who didn’t respond to the warning by inspecting their thermostats ended up with an overheated engine and a lack of proper engine cooling.
In the long run, this often led to completely seized engines, and this even affected the HEMI V8 Charger along with the 3.6-liter V6 one. Other problems in this generation of the Charger included airbag faults and transmission control module failures that caused rough shifting. Overall, things got much better with the 2015 facelift and the following model years.
What are the best Dodge Charger years to buy?
If you think that you won’t be able to get your desired Charger based on these problems, that isn’t the case. Thankfully, some Dodge Charger model years were pretty solid in terms of reliability and these are the genuine muscle cars you can depend on. Are you still wondering about what are the best Dodge Charger years to buy?
The best Dodge Charger years are 2009, 2010, and 2017, but here’s a full list:
Luckily, you won’t have to do much guessing if you decide to go with a more recent sixth-gen or seventh-gen Charger because of all the data available. Based on this, we can conclude that the 2010 and 2017 Chargers are among the best options for drivers, and here’s why:
2010 Dodge Charger
The 2010 Charger proved to be the most reliable one of all the sixth-gen models as it only received around 300 negative feedbacks from drivers. This is a good thing since the bad Charger years often had over 2,000 complaints.
Other than a few electrical system complaints and issues with the engine that weren’t as commonly reported as for the earlier sixth-gen models, this one proved to be pretty solid. It earned an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Edmunds and it has the same grade on KBB.
2017 Dodge Charger
As for the seventh-gen model, the 2017 Charger is without a doubt the best option along with more recent models. The reason for this is a low account of problems with just about 170 complaints mostly concerning minor issues like body/paint and interior accessory faults.
As for the overall rating, the 2017 model received a 4.2 out of 5 on Edmunds and it’s one of the best ratings among seventh-gen models.
Is the Dodge Charger worth buying?
Yes, the Dodge Charger is a car that’s worth buying since it provides a great price-to-quality ratio for the used models. Even with the used Hellcat Redeye model with 808 horsepower, you still get an affordable option when compared to European performance models in the same category.
Is it the best performance-oriented daily driver you can find on the used market? Maybe it is, but one thing is for sure with the Charger – you’ll never get bored of the classic design and the muscle-car line of the car that seems even more compelling with a roar of a HEMI V8 from the exhaust.
What year is the most reliable charger?
The 2017 Charger is the most reliable model year out there, along with the 2009 and 2010 model years from the previous generation.
What were the worst years for Dodge Charger?
The worst years for Dodge Charger include the 2006, 2007, and 2011 model years.
Which version of the Dodge Charger is best?
The SRT Hellcat Redeye version of the Charger is the best one if you are looking for pure performance, while the SXT version with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is a more economical one with lower fuel consumption.