What to Look for When Buying a Used Dodge Charger
If you’re a muscle car type of person but your life circumstances have taken a family turn where just two doors are no longer practical, you might think you have to buy an SUV. Even worse, you might think you have to give up on driving pleasure entirely and give in to the gravitational pull of the dreaded minivan. STOP!!!!! How about a used Dodge Charger?
There is a way you can still have a genuine muscle car but still assure your other half you’re being responsible with four doors, a massive rear seat, a big trunk, and reasonable prices. The answer is to buy the only genuine four-door muscle car, and that car is the Dodge Charger. So here’s what you need to look out for when buying a used Dodge Charger.
How long has the Dodge Charger been in production?
The Dodge Charger has been in production since 1966 but there have been two periods during that time when the Charger wasn’t being built. The first production run went from 1966 until 1978, the car was then reintroduced for a six-year run between 1981 and 1987, and the latest production run that continues through to the present day got underway in 2005.
How many generations of the Dodge Charger are there?
There have so far been seven different generations of the Dodge Charger and it’s probably fair to say that some are decidedly more desirable than others. Some of the early examples are now stone-cold classics and some of the later cars can be superb value used buys. However, there are a couple of generations in there that when you see them you’ll understand why the Charger went out of production for a while.
First-generation Dodge Charger (1966-1967)
When you look at these early generations of the Charger you’ll probably notice that my initial statement about this being a four-door family car is way off the mark because the Charger actually started life off as a two-door fastback with four bucket seats.
Built on Chrysler’s B Platform and sharing components with the Coronet, the first generation featured a standard 5.2-liter V-8 engine mated to a three-speed manual transmission, but bigger, more powerful engines were also available.
Many of these will now have been restored or rebuilt as restomods, and any that are still around in crappy condition will still command pretty high prices. These models are investments and not your average used car by any means.
Second-generation Dodge Charger (1968-1970)
The second and third-generation Dodge Chargers are seriously sought-after classic cars in any condition. In fact, I just looked on Autotrader Classics and came across a 1970 U code Dodge Charger that could barely be described as still even qualifying as a car and didn’t even have a drivetrain, and it was still up for sale at $18,995!
Third-generation Dodge Charger (1971-1974)
The third-generation models of the Dodge Charger are not as desirable as the previous two generations but they’re still pretty sought-after. These were built on the Chrysler B platform that was modified to comply with new safety and emissions regulations. Charger sales figures improved with this generation but that was at least partly due to the Dodge Coronet being discontinued.
Fourth-generation Dodge Charger (1975-1978)
If you want proof of the claim that things don’t always change for the better then the fourth-generation Dodge Charger is a great example to use. Dodge decided to take the Charger into the growing personal luxury car segment with this one, but the fourth-generation Charger is an illustration of what was wrong with American car design during this period.
If you actually like the way this one looks then good luck to you, but I find it hard to believe that Dodge got it even more wrong in the design stakes when they replaced this monstrosity with a fifth-gen version in 1982.
Fifth-generation Dodge Charger (1982-1987)
In an attempt to be kind to Dodge and its designers of the 1980s, the fifth-generation Charger was a product of its time. Apart from the name, this car is about as far away from the early and the latest Chargers as it’s possible to imagine.
This version is actually a front-drive subcompact hatchback and it was around at the same time as the equality unrepresentative of its heritage fox body Ford Mustang. This is a more modern-looking monstrosity than the fourth-gen Charger, but it’s still a monstrosity. If you see yourself listening to Hall & Oats with a dodgy perm and wearing leg warmers while driving a car that’s in equally bad taste as some sort of retro 80s thing, then this is the car for you.
Sixth-generation Dodge Charger (2006-2010)
Unless you have seriously deep pockets for a classic, restored first- or second-generation Dodge Charger, this is where your search for a good used Dodge Charger should start. This is where Dodge reintroduced the Charger as a four-door muscle sedan built on Chrysler’s LX platform, and it’s available with V-6 and V-8 engines and even all-wheel-drive.
This is where the Charger forged its own direction and there are so many different versions that it’s easy to find one that suits. The police really, really liked this Charger from this point onwards, so you can pick these up really cheap as ex-police vehicles from government auctions all over the country.
Seventh-generation Dodge Charger (2011-Present)
The seventh-generation Charger was a subtle evolution of its predecessor, but it continued to move the car in a more aggressive and sporty direction that help Dodge get the Charger to where it is today. This is where the Charger adopted that distinctive wrap-around tail light arrangement and base models were made even more powerful.
If you look at a 2015 model at the side of a 2014 model it would be easy to assume 2015 saw the launch of an all-new eight-generation of the Dodge Charger. In fact, the 2015 model year was only a refresh of the seventh generation, but one that saw exterior styling changes that were far more significant and distinctive than the changes from the sixth- to the seventh generations.
I absolutely love the Chargers of 2015 and onwards, especially as this is the point where the mighty Hellcat versions were introduced. These cars might not be the most maneuverable or the best-handling cars around, but the styling and sheer brute force of these modern Chargers are something to cherish.
Why is the Dodge Charger so popular?
As a general rule, people love the Dodge Charger for its high-performance, aggressive styling, four-door practicality, comfortable interior, and excellent value for money. There’s a lot to like about the seventh-generation Dodge Charger and it’s a lot of car for a very reasonable amount of money
When you consider the Dodge’s rivals include the likes of the Toyota Avalon, the Nissan Maxima, and the Ford Taurus, it’s easy to see why those who love cars and driving would be more tempted by the Charger.
How well do Dodge Chargers hold their value?
On average, the Dodge Charger retains almost 70% of its value over the first three years and after five years it will still be worth 44% of its original value. During the second and third years of its life, the Charger suffers very little depreciation, so a one-year-old model will be a decent buy if you only intend to keep it for a couple of years.
If you are looking to buy one to keep for the longer term, a four or five-year-old example in good condition would probably be a good bet.
Is the Dodge Charger a safe car?
As a whole, the Dodge Charger is one of the safest cars in its class with the NHTSA consistently giving it a full five-star rating for overall safety since the introduction of the seventh generation. There are some competitors out there that can boast slightly better safety ratings or longer lists of standard active safety features, but if safety features are your number one priority you’re probably not the Charger’s target audience anyway.
Is the Dodge Charger reliable?
The Dodge Charger has a reliability record that’s best described as average for a car that’s been around for some time and that’s sold in relatively large numbers. Like any mass-produced vehicle, some owners have experienced problems and some of them have been extremely serious, but there’s nothing particularly worrying that should put you off buying a used Dodge Charger.
Do Dodge Chargers have transmission problems?
According to the RepairPal.com website, one of the more common problems the Dodge Charger suffers from is shuddering when the transmission is shifting gears. The problem tends to be caused by the powertrain control and transmission modules (PCM/TCM), but the good news is it can be resolved by nothing more than a software update.
Model years between 2006 and 2017 and more prone to this issue than older or newer models, but if it occurs at higher mileages of 97,000 or more, any hesitation with shifting could be caused by mechanical failures so it’s important to get the problem properly diagnosed.
Do Dodge Chargers have a lot of problems?
There are lots of niggly little problems the Dodge Charger suffers from, but these are no more prevalent and no more worrying than what you’d expect with most cars as they get older.
For example, one website reports more than 100 Charger owners have reported problems with a failing power window regulator or motor on models between 2006 and 2013. In some cases, the problem has occurred as early as 22,000 miles but sometimes it’s reported with cars that have done more than 150,000 miles.
Which Dodge Charger model years should you avoid?
As a general rule, you should probably avoid buying a 2006 Dodge Charger if you want to give yourself the best chance of avoiding costly issues. It’s not uncommon for the first model year of a new generation of a car to experience problems, but the 2006 MY Dodge Charger is susceptible to potentially terminal engine problems from around the 94,000-mile mark.
If the engine fault results in repeated stalling you should expect to have to pay around $3,300 to fix the issue, but a total failure could cost you $5,500 or more to remedy.
Is the Dodge Charger fuel efficient?
The Dodge Charger isn’t famous for being particularly fuel-efficient but there are a wide variety of different engines and drivetrains with differing levels of fuel economy. A 2015 Dodge Charger with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine is rated by the EPA at 19 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined.
However, the Charger isn’t the biggest gas-guzzler around as even the awesome Hellcat models with their 707 horsepower supercharged V-8 powerplants are rated at 13 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, which could be a lot worse I suppose?
How many seats are there in a Dodge Charger?
The Dodge Charger is now exclusively a five-seat sedan, although some very early models were four-seaters. Today’s standard Dodge Charger seats are cloth and are power-adjustable upfront, but Nappa or Laguna leather upholstery is also available and front sport seats can be heated and even ventilated.
Why do the police use the Dodge Charger?
Police forces around America love the Dodge Charger because it’s instantly recognizable, it’s spacious, it has four doors and it’s powerful and fast. Even though there are more advanced cars the police can use, the Charger is pretty much the go-to Interceptor for many police departments as well other federal and other law-enforcement agencies.
Because there are so many Dodge Chargers being used by law enforcement there are lots of them coming onto the used market all the time. To find out when and where these ex-police Interceptors are being sold and to grab yourself a powerful used-car bargain, you’ll find all this information and more with a government auctions.
How much legroom is there in a Dodge Charger?
The seventh-generation Dodge Charger has 41.8 inches of legroom in the front and 40.1 inches of legroom in the rear seats which is pretty generous by any standard. There’s also an impressive 104.7 cu.-ft. of total passenger volume which is actually more than a Honda CR-V or a Toyota RAV4.
How big is the Dodge Charger trunk?
The seventh-generation Dodge Charger started off with 15.4 cu.-ft. of trunk space, but by 2015 that had grown to 16.1 cu.-ft. and there’s an even more generous 16.5 cu.-ft. in a 2020 model.
Is the Dodge Charger AWD?
As a general rule, the Dodge Charger is a rear-wheel drive car, but the fifth-generation flirted with a front-drive format and the Charger has been available with AWD for some trim levels since the sixth generation arrived in 2003.
Is the Dodge Charger fast?
The Dodge Charger is and always has been considered a fast car, and that’s a big part of the reason why it’s considered to be America’s only four-door muscle car. A base model Charger with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine can get from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, but a Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye can reach 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and has a claimed top speed of 203 mph!
Is the Dodge Charger comfortable?
The sheer size of the interior of the Dodge Charger means it’s a comfortable car for up to five people, but the quality of the interior trim can vary widely between different trim levels. Basically, you tend to get what you pay for, but even relatively low-level trims come with an impressive list of standard equipment and comfortable seats with plenty of legroom.
What’s the highest level of Dodge Charger?
The Hellcat is generally the most powerful and high-performance version of the Dodge Charger but it’s also the highest-spec and most generously equipped version of the muscle sedan too. However, even the 707 horsepower Hellcat has now been superseded by the SRT Hellcat Redeye which boasts an eye-watering 797 horsepower.
How much should you pay for a used Dodge Charger?
The first three generations of the Dodge Charger are far too rare and expensive now to be considered normal used cars, and the fourth and fifth-generation Chargers are horrible things that I’m not going to waste time recommending. So, here’s a table showing the minimum and maximum used prices you should expect to pay for a used Dodge Charger from 2006 onwards.
|Model Year||Average Minimum Price||Average Maximum Price|
Is a used Dodge Charger worth the money?
A used Dodge Charger is definitely worth the money as long as you don’t buy one that’s been used and abused. Performance cars like these obviously tempt some people to drive them to the limit, but there are plenty of used Chargers out there that have been used as sensible family cars that have been driven carefully and are well maintained.
Mid-range models with V-8 engines offer a good combination of performance, practicality, and value for money, but even the most expensive Hellcat models can look cheap when you compare them to other cars with similar levels of power and performance.
Should you buy a used Dodge Charger?
You should definitely go out and buy a Dodge Charger used if you love cars and love driving but you also want and need the practicality of four doors, five large seats, and an impressive list of standard features.
The first time I got to drive a Dodge Charger was in 2010 by accident. I’d arrived at a Thrify near LAX and the Mustang convertible I’d booked to hire hadn’t arrived back. Luckily, I was going to be staying in LA at the Hyatt on Sunset Strip as I was making a pilgrimage to the Whiskey a Go Go, so they said I could take anything I liked the look of and come back to pick up a Mustang later.
As I walked into the parking lot there were lots of SUVs I could have taken, but then I saw a brand new white Dodge Charger and decided that was the one for me. It wasn’t the best car I’ve ever driven – that’s for sure – but there’s something about the Charger’s swagger that made me feel great and I’d have been happy to keep it for the whole two weeks if I’d had to.
What are the Dodge Charger trim levels and features?
Instead of me listing all the different trim levels, engines, and features of every model year from 2006 onwards, here are the original pdf brochures for you to download for free: