2018 Dodge Challenger Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Steering, electrical, airbags, suspension and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Among the various sports cars on the market, the 2018 Dodge Challenger might be one of the most well-known. The company claims that the newer models provide “unmistakable muscle,” but the owners seem to tell of a different story. This vehicle appears to suffer from issues with the steering, electrical system, powertrain, airbags and suspension, making it a nearly complete failure.

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Steering

When it comes to keeping control of a vehicle, the steering is the main system that maintains safe operation. Yet, the Challenger struggles to perfect this basic function.

Just look at this NHTSA complaint. “Pulling out of a parking lot at low speed the steering wheel vibrated for a second and the power steering light lit up on the dash. A message said ‘Power Steering Assist Needs Service.’ At the same time, my power steering went completely out. Took it to the dealership and was told the power steering module went out. The car is a 2018 Challenger with 20,000 miles on it.”

The company is relatively quiet about any issues, with only a little over ten communications published. Still, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that power steering issues shouldn’t be occurring at just 20,000 miles, if ever. The first commercially-available power steering system was installed in a 1951 Chrysler Imperial. With nearly 70 years of using these systems, it seems improbable that Dodge can’t figure out how to manufacture the parts to function properly. Maybe it figures that the driver can use that unmistakable muscle to power the steering wheel around.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Challenger Steering Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE CHALLENGER. WHILE DRIVING APPROXIMATELY 10 MPH, THE STEERING WHEEL AND ACCELERATOR PEDAL VIBRATED WITHOUT WARNING. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO CROWN CHRYSLER WHERE THE TECHNICIAN PERFORMED A WHEEL BALANCING. THE FAILURE RECURRED AND THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN BACK TO THE SAME DEALER. THE TECHNICIAN ROTATED THE TIRES, BUT THE FAILURE RECURRED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN BACK TO THE SAME DEALER AND ALL FOUR TIRES WERE REPLACED. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE STEERING WHEEL VIBRATION SEIZED; HOWEVER, THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL CONTINUED TO VIBRATE. ADDITIONALLY, THE FRONT DRIVER’S DOOR DID NOT UNLOCK. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN BACK TO THE SAME DEALER WHERE THE LOCK COMPONENT WAS REPLACED, BUT THE VIBRATION OF THE ACCELERATOR PEDAL RECURRED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN BACK TO THE SAME DEALER WHERE THE ENGINE, EXHAUST SYSTEM, AND TRANSMISSION WERE DISMANTLED AND RE-POSITIONED. THE FAILURE CONTINUED. THE CONTACT CALLED THE MANUFACTURER AND REQUESTED A BUY BACK. THE MANUFACTURER STATED THAT THE DEALER ASSURED THEM THAT THE FAILURE WAS REMEDIED. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE FAILURE RECURRED AND SMOKE EMITTED FROM THE FRONT END OF THE VEHICLE. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN BACK TO THE SAME DEALER WHERE THE TECHNICIAN REPLACED THE O-RING AND THE OIL FILTER. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE VEHICLE WAS NOT COMPLETELY REPAIRED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS NOT PROVIDED.

I WAS DRIVING AT 35 MPH ON CRUISE CONTROL, I TRIED LETTING GO OFF THE ACCELERATION AS I DID THE CAR WOULD NOT SLOW DOWN AND IT STARTED TO WOBBLE SIDE TO SIDE IT HIT A CURB AND THE FRONT PASSENGER WHEEL SIDE CAME OFF AND BACK SIDE FLATTENED AND MADE A COUPLE OF DENTS INTO THE RIGHT SIDE

Electrical System

Electrical systems have come a long way in modern vehicles. With all the new technology, there’s a lot more to go wrong, which is precisely what happens with the 2018 Dodge Challenger.

One NHTSA complaint states, “This condition matches NHTSA 19V-203 which is for 2019 Dodge Challengers. However, I have a 2018 Dodge Challenger exhibiting the same symptom. While the car is in motion, and at random times every day, the entire instrument panel cluster will go dark. By dark I mean all illuminated features on the instrument panel are invisible. The car does not stall, and it can still be operated, but I cannot see my speed, RPMS, or any operational data, thereby creating a safety hazard, especially at night. This has happened intermittently since I purchased the car.”

We see another very serious electrical issue related to the cruise control. In fact, there is a recall, labeled NHTSA Campaign Number 18V332000. Nearly five million vehicles may have a defect that prevents the cruise control from being canceled. It’s due to a short circuit in the wiring system. Between not being able to see vital information and potentially not slowing down when needed, this muscle car is unmistakable – but not for good reasons.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Challenger Electrical Problems:

THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR A YEAR NOW AND STARTED THE 2ND MONTH I BOUGHT THE CAR. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IS 1 TO 2 TIMES A WEEK THE UCONNECT 8.4C NAVIGATION SCREEN WILL FREEZE ON THE SCREEN IT STARTED UP ON AND CAN NOT BE CHANGE. YOU CAN MAKE SELECTIONS ON THE SCREEN ITS STUCK ON, BUT WHEN YOU NEED TO WITH GO TO ANOTHER PAGE YOU CANT. YOU MUST PUT THE CAR IN NEUTRAL AND TURN IT OFF THEN BACK ON TO GET THE SYSTEM TO WORK PROPERLY.

BOUGHT MY CAR 2018 BRAND NEW. IT HAS 3206 MILES, I REALLY DONT USE IT BECAUSE IT IS USED FOR PLEASURE/SHOW BUT WHEN I DO THE BATTERY IS DISCHARGED. I HAVE HAD TO CALL A TOTAL OF 4 TIMES-JUNE, JULY, SEPTEMBER,, OCTOBER 2018 THE BATTERY DISCHARGED WITHOUT ANY VALID REASON. IN 2019 APRIL, MAY THE BATTERY DIED AGAIN. THE DEALER TOOK TWO WEEKS AND FINALLY CHANGED THE BATTERY AND RESET THE IBS. HOPEFULLY THIS WORKS BUT I NEEDED TO REPORT IT TO SOMEONE. THE DEALER SAID THAT ONE REASON WHY THE BATTERY DISCHARGES IS BECAUSE I DONT DRIVE IT OFTEN.

AFTER STARTING MY CAR, I PLUGGED MY PHONE INTO THE USB PORT IN GLOVE BOX AND PHONE WOULDN’T CHARGE OR SHOW UP ON APPLE CAR PLAY. UNPLUGGED AND PLUGGED BACK IN MULTIPLE TIMES AND SAME THING WOULD HAPPEN. TURN CAR OFF AND BACK ON MULTIPLE TIMES AND ALL OF A SUDDEN IT JUST STARTS WORKING AGAIN. SOMETIMES WORKS AFTER FIRST RESTART SOMETIMES NOT AT ALL UNTIL I LEAVE THE CAR FOR AWHILE AND COME BACK TO RESTART IT. HAS HAPPENED COUNTLESS TIMES SINCE PURCHASE IN MAY 2018, FROM DAY 2 OF OWNERSHIP.

Powertrain

One of the high points of driving a muscle car such as the Challenger is the powertrain. Yet, this one doesn’t live up to the hype.

Read this complaint left on the NHTSA website. “The contact owns a 2018 Dodge Challenger. While the vehicle was in Park, it rolled backwards into the bushes. Also, when the contact shifted the vehicle in Park, the gear shifted in Neutral independently. The contact heard an abnormal noise coming from the front of the vehicle every time the vehicle was shifted in Park. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] where it was diagnosed that the vehicle had been parked too long. The vehicle was not repaired and the failure persisted. The vehicle was taken back to the same dealer where the cause of the failure was undetermined. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 2,000.”

What bright technician identified that it was parked too long, thereby causing these issues? What a joke, especially considering the two recalls issued on this vehicle. The first one, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V280000, states that the incorrect transmission park lock rod was installed, which prevents the vehicle from being placed in Park. If that’s not enough of a red flag regarding this powertrain, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V524000 states that some vehicles also have a defective voltage regulator chip in the powertrain control module, which can cause the vehicle to stall or fail to start. By this point, some owners might be hoping the car doesn’t start.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Challenger Transmission Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE CHALLENGER. WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS IN PARK AND SHIFTING INTO DRIVE, THE CONTACT HEARD AN ABNORMAL HISSING NOISE. THERE WERE NO WARNING INDICATORS ILLUMINATED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO NAPLETON CHRYSLER JEEP, BUT THEY WERE UNABLE TO DUPLICATE THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS CONTACTED AND PROVIDED CASE NUMBER. THE CONTACT WAS REFERRED TO THE LOCAL DEALER. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO AIRPORT CHRYSLER DODGE ) WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT THE VEHICLE MADE A NOISE WHILE SHIFTING FROM PARK INTO REVERSE AND REVERSE INTO DRIVE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS APPROXIMATELY 200. 

THE TRANSMISSION IS VERY CLUNKY AS WELL. IT SLAMS INTO A LOWER GEAR SO HARD IT LURCHES THE VEHICLE BACKWARDS FROM THIRD TO SECOND GEAR. THIS VEHICLE WAS A PRESENT TO MYSELF AFTER SURVIVING COLON CANCER, BUT IT’S A NIGHTMARE THAT DODGE DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT AND WANTS TO DO NOTHING TO RESOLVE.

Airbags

Another essential car component is the airbag system. This is designed to keep people safe, but can’t do its job if it doesn’t work correctly.

This NHTSA review illustrates the risk. “On April 24th, 2019, I was involved in a car accident that caused significant damage to the front end of my car. The entire front end is damaged. Due to the impact on the car, the airbags were supposed to deploy, yet they did not. As I was entering the center lane a car plows into the left front side of my car tearing the vehicle from left to right.”

Again, Dodge has nothing to say about this matter. It seems the only way to get this automaker to talk is to force it to perform recalls. Maybe the airbags will be a future recall, backing up what the customers are already claiming. It just proves that muscle means nothing if there aren’t sufficient measures to prevent injury.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Challenger Airbag Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE CHALLENGER. WHEN THE CONTACT OPENED THE FRONT DRIVER’S DOOR, HE NOTICED THAT THE SIDE AIR BAG WAS SHOWING THROUGH THE SEAM. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO YORK DODGE CHRYSLER WHERE IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE REPAIRS WERE NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT DIAGNOSED OR REPAIRED. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 21,161.

WHILE DRIVING AT 45 MPH ON CITY STREET, WE WERE REAR ENDED BY A VEHICLE TRAVELING 80+MPH. TRAVELED OFF ROADWAY HITTING RIGHT FRONT OF CAR ON CONCRETE LANDSCAPING WALL, TRAVELED ADDITIONAL 40 FT STRIKING AND BREAKING A UTILITY POLE BEFORE CAR CAME TO A STOP. NO AIRBAG DEPLOYMENT AT ALL

Suspension

A look at the suspension on the 2018 Dodge Challenger reveals a massive problem that continues to go unmentioned.

Let this NHTSA review explain. “Brand new 2018 Challenger with rusted control arms in the front, Chrysler says it is not a recall, and will not repair. Dealer checked all the Chargers and Challengers on the lot and said they were all this way. Car has 2,000 miles on it, I reported it at 200 miles.”

This statement perfectly illustrates what has been previously discussed. Dodge isn’t looking to do anything it isn’t forced to do, even if the evidence is right in front of its face, sitting on all of the lots. This muscle car isn’t unmistakable at all. Everyone sees the suspension defects and knows this is a car looking to create injury.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Dodge Challenger Suspension Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2018 DODGE CHALLENGER. WHILE THE CONTACT’S SON WAS DRIVING AT AN UNKNOWN SPEED, THE VEHICLE SUDDENLY STALLED. THE VEHICLE WAS UNABLE TO RESTART AND WAS TOWED TO ISLAND CHRYSLER DODGE. THE DEALER DIAGNOSED THAT THE TRANSMISSION AND REAR DIFFERENTIAL NEEDED TO BE REPLACED. THE VEHICLE WAS REPAIRED. AFTER LEAVING THE DEALER, WHILE DRIVING, SEVERAL WARNING INDICATORS ILLUMINATED ON THE INSTRUMENT PANEL. THE CONTACT RETURNED THE VEHICLE TO THE DEALER WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT THE AXLE, IGNITION COIL, SPARK PLUGS, ANTI-LOCK BRAKES, AND STABILIZER BAR NEEDED TO BE REPLACED. THE DEALER REPAIRED THE VEHICLE, BUT THE FAILURE CONTINUED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS CONTACTED AND ADVISED THE CONTACT TO CALL THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR DISPUTE SETTLEMENT FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 24,000.

TAKATA RECALL: AXLE ON FRONT PASSENGER SIDE BROKE WHILE MAKING LEFT TURN. SPEED AT THE TIME WAS 5-10 MILES.

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