Unofficial 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Tracker

Done With Chrysler

Some of you may have noticed a thread I started in July on called "Having a hurst short shifter just got my entire transmission warranty voided". The reason for me abandoning Chrysler wholesale for life (and why I will strongly advise all friends, family, and everyone else from buying Chrysler) stems from that event.

Actually, it goes a bit further back than that. The car in question is a 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8. I purchased this car from Bob Frederick of New Wilmington Motors, PA in November 2011. The car had about 1,100 miles on it when I received it and was essentially garage kept and brand new. Since I live in TX, I had it shipped on down. I quickly noticed, inside of a few weeks, that there were some weird shifting problems. Shifting 1-2 or 2-3 ended up grinding gears about 30% of the time, even during low speed city driving.

I took it to my local dealership (River Oaks CJD in Houston, TX). They quickly identified that, per their words, it was a screw-up at the factory and the clutch plate was never fully disengaging from the flywheel. They ordered new parts under warranty (pressure plate + actuator) and sent me on my merry way.

I was a bit upset, but hey they fixed it. Or, so I had hoped. While noticably better, it was still grinding occasionally. Further, what was originally hidden by the substantial grinding now shown through. About 30% of the time, shifting from 2-3 would slam into the gate between 1 and 3 and be impossible to get into 3rd gear. This was exacerbated by higher speeds, meaning any spirited acceleration was a crap shoot as to whether you'd slam into the gate on the 2-3 shift and just ruin your day. My untrained thought process wondered whether the synchros or anything else was messed up from the already dealer admitted factory screwed up clutch plate.

I called the servioe advisor up who delt with me originally, and was told to "drive it for another 1,000 miles and see if it clears up". He was having nothing about me bringing it in. Unfortunately, 2012 was a busy year for me and I had little time to focus on my car. Combine this with a literal 0.7 mile drive into work (apartments I lived in were only a few city blocks from my work with 1 light between them) and it simply wasn't a prominent thing in my day when experiencing the shifting problems. It pretty much ended up with me focusing on my job for the better part of the year while periodically being reminded of the problem as I slammed into the gate occasionally.

However, I did visit the dealership to follow up after the 1,000 miles in which provided no improvement. I was told that the problem could "not be reproduced". This bewildered me. I even showed the advisor personally while they were sitting in the car with me how I could, on demand, repeat the problem. It's not even dependent on motion. Car off. Keys out of it. Parking break on. I could sit there all day getting about a 50% gate-slam rate. Essentially, if you don't purposely keep direct up and slight-left motion on the shifter while going 2-3, it slams into the gate. Just putting your palm on the shifter and moving straight-up would result in it slamming into the gate. I feel I need to illustrate this.

Of the course of the next year and a half, I visit the dealership a few more times. Each time, they stated it was no reproducable to my frustration. Again, I showed them with them next to me. When they'd go to shift (despite visually seeing me slam it into the gate), I imagine that they'd intentionally shift up-right as they did it to not catch it on the gate. It should be noted that my 2009 never did this, not even once, and that I could not reproduce this behavior with any other shift on the car. It exclusively happens on the 2-3 shift at that gate. The visit dates per my dealership receipts were: 2012-03-06, 2013-08-09, & 2014-03-18. Note that the reason I kept going to the same one was to prevent any other dealer from excusing themselves with "well, I can't speak for what that other dealer did" and dodging things.

My desire to abandon the car was growing with each visit and just sell it off. Well, that all came to a head on 2014-07-05. I was driving to a Barnes & Noble to grab a book. I pulled in the parking lot, stopped, put the e-brake on, turned the car off, and went to put the car in first gear. As I shifted into 1st, the handle came with me. In other words, very luckily for me, the shifter sheered right off in a parkig lot with a low effort shift instead of on the road.

Keep in mind I've never taken this car to the track or anything similar. I live in downtown Houston. I have no room to do anything crazy even if I wanted to. To me, this was a clear culmination of the problem I had been harping on the dealerships about. I had slammed the shifter into the gate so many times over the 2 years and 8 months that I had the car, that the shifter broke. While angry, I was excited. Surely I had given them just cause now. Surely, they'd genuinely look into things now. To date, nobody had looked in the transmission or anything other than a road test to investigate my car.


The dealership (same one, River Oaks in Houston, TX), called in a chrysler rep to review it for warranty replacement. The Chrysler Area Manager (Steve Heun) brought his tech in (Stewart Ritchey) and reviewed my car. They identified that I had a "modified transmission" because I had Bob Frederick from New Wilmington Motors install a Hurst Short Shifter on the car. On this basis, I was notified that my entire powertrain warranty was now null and void. To that end, they would not be replacing the shifter. I was livid. That's where the thread on called "Having a hurst short shifter just got my entire transmission warranty voided" came from.

In my opinion, they were copping out. How would the hurst short shifter cause these problems? Especially when there is a documented case of a factory screw-up with the transmission. Anyway, my full argument is provided in the linked forum post. I was furious and felt the warranty void on my powertrain was unjust.

I reached out of Bob Frederick immediately for some action. Bob, as usual, went above and beyond and actually purchased a new shifter for me out of pocket and sent it my way. In the interim, he took the issue to Chrysler HQ direct to try and investigate the warranty void. Further, he would have someone from the SRT Specialist group call me and see if we can't finally fix my car.

I received a call from Bridget, an SRT Specialist. This is where the only good thing ever from Bridget was said. She informed me that my warranty was reinstated. At this point, I obviously was done with the horrific dealership that is River Oaks (Dealer ID: 65233). I even had talked to their service manager, Joseph Laterna, who could not have cared less about my issue. So, in agreement with Bridget, we chose another dealership in the area to continue with. In this case, Allen Samuels in Katy, TX. I went there on 2014-08-15.

I spoke to their service manager and explained everything thus far, even citing the Chrysler Case# Bridget gave me of 25290812. In a very defeated and depressed manner, I basically told the Allen Samuel's service manager that if this can't be resolved, I will end up having to sell the car. So, I'm hoping they can figure it out. I even took one of their service techs on a road test and showed them first hand the problem. I headed home, hopeful.

Well, still the same answer. "Can't reproduce". It almost seems like a conspiracy at this point. I can't believe it. I call Bridget back up, and this is where Chrysler's customer service just nose dives. I explain to Bridget that I'm willing to pay out of pocket just to have a dealer crack the transmission open and LOOK. Allen Samuels, understandably, wouldn't do this on their own without a Chrysler OK. She explains to me that I shouldn't ever want that to happen, because if a dealer looks in a transmission and finds it has no problems, the entire powertrain warranty instantly gets voided! What? Yes, I asked for clarification. That's what she said. She said that the warranty for the powertrain only remains intact if they find a problem and therefore fix it. Looking at a transmission and finding no problems, however, voids its warranty.

She was further adamant that the effects could be me not realizing that the skip shift is in effect. Not only did Bob Frederick install a skip shift eliminator on the car for me, but the skip shift only works from 1-4. My problem was 2-3. I tried to debate this with her, but she (an SRT Specialist, mind you) informed me that the skip shift is in fact 2-3, not 1-4. Further, she is bewildered as to how Bob Frederick was eliminating the skip shift since it is "impossible to circumvent". From an SRT Specialist. Amazing.

Here's a screenshot from the 2011 Dodge Challenger Owner's Manual attesting that (as every Challenger owner knows), Bridget the SRT Specialist was in fact wrong about a basic part about the car.

I remind Bridget how the problem still occurs regardless if the car is on/off, in park, going slow, or pedal to the floor. Unphased. I again mention how it looks like I'm going to have to sell this car and abandon Chrysler. She starts to debate with me on the potential causes. This is where Chrysler just blew themselves away as far as horrific customer service. Bridget asked if I could simply not use my 3rd gear, as she herself commonly skips shifts gears in her truck. I couldn't believe it.

Well that was that. I resigned myself to selling the car as soon as was convenient, and this past Friday (2015-01-09) I did just that and sold it to Carmax. I will never ever buy another Chrysler product for as long as I live, nor will my family. I will do my best to spread this amongst those I know and encourage them to steer clear of Chrysler as well.

In turn, for the treatment received by Chrysler, I have no desire to assist Chrysler in any way. This includes indirectly helping them by hosting Effective immediately, all functionality of the website itself has been disabled. Effective 2015-02-01, I will be disabling the forum banner hosting portion as well -- effectively disabling all aspects of this site. This page will be the only item to remain available for the foreseeable future as warning to existing and future Chrysler owners.

Chrylser, you've lost a customer for life.