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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Jan. 30, 2024



Older Dodge Challenger Third Generation Review, Reliability, Possible Maintenance Problems, Overall Pros And Cons

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Car

In today's very high-priced used car market, many shoppers are now looking for "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars.

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

The question is, "Is the Dodge Challenger one of those models? Well, the answer to this all comes down to its track record for reliability and longevity.

And the good news is that the Challenger's record, and we're really talking about those 10+ years-old as "older", has been quite solid.

In fact, when it comes to muscle cars, it's pretty much at the top of the list for reliability. Not only that, but it's one of the most reliabile vehicles Dodge has ever produced.

Of course, this doesn't mean that all older Challengers are trouble-free. Even individual models of historically high quality brands, such as Honda or Toyota, can have issues. Sometimes, things just happen to a minority of vehicles. And sometimes it's a matter of proper maintenance, or the lack thereof.

So, here ...

- We'll do an overview of the third generation Challenger, produced from 2008 - 2023, but we're really focusing on those 10+ years-old.

- Then we'll list possible mechanical issues that have been reported by owners of these older Challengers so they can be checked before buying one today.

- And then we'll summarize the overall pros and cons of an older Dodge Challenger worth consideration by potential buyers.


But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Challenger

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: It's important to get dealers to compete for your business by using auto sites such as Edmunds.com and CarsDirect.com (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business is what gets you a lower price, and it's very easy.


Older Third Generation Dodge Challenger (10+ Years-Old)

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

The return of the Dodge Challenger in the 2008 model year, nearly four decades after its initial debut, was welcome news for car enthusiasts both young and old.

Its design is distinctly reminiscent of the iconic '70's muscle car. So is its available 425-horsepower V8 power. What was new, however, was the combination of those old strengths with modern-age feature refinement.

Those "new" Dodge Challenger models were available in SRT8 form only. The SE and R/T models were then introduced for the 2009 model year, as was manual transmission for the SRT8.

While the new Challenger's roof-line and long hood are mindful of the original, this Challenger is actually based on a shortened version of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger platform.

The base Challenger SE is equipped with a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that's mated with a four-speed automatic transmission.

Standard features on the SE include full power accessories, air conditioning, an 8-way power driver seat, keyless entry, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a CD/MP3 player.

Moving up to a Challenger R/T model adds its robust 5.7-liter V8 that produces 375 horsepower and is coupled with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

Other R/T features include a sport-tuned suspension and steering, 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and several unique exterior styling accents.

The top-of-the-line Challenger SRT8 was developed by Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology division and is outfitted with a 6.1-liter V8 that's good for 425 horsepower. These SRT8's can be found with either the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

Also found in the SRT8 are Brembo brakes, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, a stiffer suspension, a limited-slip rear differential, xenon headlights, heated front sport seats, cruise control, keyless ignition, leather and faux suede upholstery, exterior upgrades such as the scooped hood, Bluetooth, and a 13-speaker premium sound system.

Many of these upgraded features can also be found on lower trims that had added them as options. Depending on the model, other significant optional features found on used Challengers include a hard-drive-based navigation system and a sunroof.

In addition, used R/T models can be found with the Trak Pak, which includes the six-speed manual transmission, a limited-slip differential, Hill Start Assist, a recalibrated performance steering system and bright pedal trim accents.

In terms of safety features, antilock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist and stability control are standard on the R/T and SRT8 models, optional on the SE. And side curtain airbags are standard on all models.

Potential buyers should note the SE became the "Base" model in 2011 and the "SXT" in 2012, while a manual transmission option was made available for the SRT8 in 2009.

Dodge Challenger R/T Coupe (2009)

For the 2009 and 2010 model years, the SE's 250-horsepower V6 has been considered a bit underwhelming for a muscle car. In addition, its transmission was a four-speed automatic in 2009 and a five-speed auto in 2010. In terms of both performance and fuel economy, this version isn't very impressive.

Also be mindful that the 2008 - 2010 models do not have the retuned suspension, upgraded steering, and stronger brakes present in 2011 and newer models (in addition to the new V6).

The SRT8 also got a more powerful V8 in 2011 as well. Also in 2011, all Challengers received reshaped seats and other interior upgrades, a more comfortable steering wheel, and additional standard features.

This version is simply a more capable and engaging car to drive due to the engine, suspension, steering, and braking revisions. And the V6 was no longer one to avoid.

The new "Pentastar" 3.6-liter V6 is significantly more robust, pumping out an additional 55 horses to a total of 305, while also becoming competitive with its rivals base engines in terms of fuel economy. The SRT8 (now called the SRT8 392) also got a boost to a 6.4-liter, 392-cubic-inch V8 good for an impressive 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

The next major changes weren't really made until 2015 when Dodge replaced the previous 5-speed automatic transmission with the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Also introduced was the SRT Hellcat trim, with its massive 707-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8.


10+ Year-Old Dodge Challenger Possible Mechanical Problems

While generally considered reliable, some owners reported the following, making them important to include in an inspection before buying:

Transmission Issues: Some owners have reported problems with the automatic transmission, including issues with shifting, rough transitions between gears, and in some cases, complete transmission failures.

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Electrical Problems: Older Challengers may experience electrical issues, including problems with power windows, door locks, and various sensors. Malfunctions in the electronic control modules (ECM) have also been reported.

Suspension and Steering Components: Wear and tear on suspension and steering components can lead to issues such as clunking noises, uneven tire wear, or a degraded ride quality. Components like ball joints, control arms, and sway bar links may require attention.

Brake System Concerns: Some owners have reported problems with the brake system, including premature wear on brake pads and rotors. Issues with the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and traction control systems have also been noted.

Engine Issues: While Dodge Challenger engines are generally well regarded, some issues have been reported, such as oil leaks, problems with the variable valve timing (VVT) system, and occasional issues with the cylinder heads.

Cooling System Problems: Problems with the cooling system, including radiator leaks and overheating, have been reported in some Challenger models.

Fuel System Problems: Some owners have reported issues with the fuel system, including fuel pump failures and fuel injector problems.

Exhaust System Concerns: Exhaust manifold leaks and issues with the catalytic converters have been reported in some Challenger models.


Overall Older Dodge Challenger Pros And Cons

Older Challenger Pros

Affordability: Obviously, older Challengers come with a lower upfront costs, making them a more budget-friendly option. However, this has to be weighed against the risk of higher maintenance costs going forward.

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Proven Engines: Older Dodge Challengers have been equipped with a range of powerful engines, including V6 and V8 options. Many of these engines are known for their durability and performance.

Timeless Appeal: The Challenger's design has a timeless appeal that transcends trends. For those who value classic styling, an older Challenger can offer a unique and attractive aesthetic.

Spacious Interior: Compared to some other muscle cars, the Challenger has a relatively spacious interior, making it more comfortable for passengers and suitable for longer drives.

Available All-Wheel Drive: Some Challenger models are equipped with all-wheel-drive (AWD), providing better traction in different driving conditions, particularly in regions with inclement weather.

Aftermarket Support: The Challenger has a strong aftermarket community, making it easier for owners to find replacement parts, performance upgrades, and customization options.


Older Challenger Cons

Reliability Concerns: Older vehicles may have higher mileage and be more prone to mechanical issues, potentially leading to increased maintenance costs.

Outdated Technology: Older Challengers may lack modern technology features found in newer cars, impacting safety, connectivity, and overall driving experience.

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Fuel Efficiency: Due to its powerful engines and performance-oriented design, the Challenger may have lower fuel efficiency compared to more fuel-efficient vehicles, especially when driven aggressively.

Handling and Size: The Challenger is a larger and heavier vehicle, which can affect its handling, especially in tight spaces or on winding roads.

Limited Visibility: The bold exterior design can result in limited visibility, particularly with the rear window and rear pillars. This can make parking and maneuvering challenging for some drivers.

Interior Quality: While the Challenger has a spacious interior, the quality of materials may not match some competitors in its price range. Some may find the interior design less refined compared to other sports cars.

Not as Track-Focused: While the Challenger offers powerful engines, it may not be as track-focused as some of its competitors. Enthusiasts seeking a pure performance experience on the track might prefer other options.

Resale Value: Muscle cars, in general, can experience faster depreciation compared to more practical or fuel-efficient vehicles. This may impact its resale value over time.

Potential for Rust: Depending on the vehicle's maintenance and exposure to harsh weather conditions, older Challengers may be prone to rust.


Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In!

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.


Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low Challenger Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" vehicle if the price was really good, here's info on The Best Way To Buy A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.


And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news and fun.


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