Dodge Dart Problems: Worst Years Of The Lineup

by Conner Mckay

Dodge initially started as the Dodge Brothers Company in 1900. It was originally made to be a parts and assemblies supplier for automakers in the area of Detroit. They started constructing full automobiles by the start of 1914 under their brand name, laying the foundation for the renowned Chrysler Corporation. Throughout their lifetime, they have released some of the best cars in the industry. The Dodge Dart made its return to the market in 2013 but disappointed in sales. What are the Dodge Dart problems that incurred this?

After that, the Dodge lineup consisted of full-sized passenger vehicles, trucks, and performance cars that would eventually take the world by storm. Despite their fame and reputation all over the world, the brand, like any other big name in the industry, has managed to bring out some models that you would not want in your garage. For instance, the Dodge Dart is a car with a slew of problems.

When Dodge decided to bring the car back to the market, it was not the optimum time to do so. Even the best of cars would have to perform a successful uphill climb to be regarded as a decent model.

The Dodge Dart was reintroduced to the market in 2013. It rose to popularity in the ‘60s when it was first launched and quickly etched a place for itself in the pages of history. This brings us to question if the Dodge Dart problems were so severe that people shunned the model entirely.

History Of The Dodge Dart

Often lovingly called “the Original Dodge Dart,” the Dart first hit the market in the early 19th century. There was a significant lapse in the production during the early ‘90s to ‘00s, so the first vehicles carrying the Dodge name were made in 1960.

In 1957 came the public reveal. The style was simple yet classic, and that was a given since the designer was none other than Carrozzeria Ghia, a famed Italian automobile design firm. Drivers were tempted with a car able to compete with contemporaries of that time but at a much cheaper price. The wheelbase was also shorter but the vehicle remained full-sized.

The full-size model used the unibody Plymouth platform paired with three levels of trims: the basic Seneca, the Pioneer, and the Dart Phoenix – a luxury model.

Dodge equipped these vehicles with a brand new engine: the 3.7-liter Slant-6. Phoenix models came with a 5.2-liter standard. Last but not the least, the addition of 4-barrel carburetors or a 5.9-liter V8 optional 2-barrel paired with single/dual exhaust made it a powerful model. Another engine was added in 1961 – the 6.3-liter V8.

Overall, most users complain about the engine problems with the new Dodge Dart. Although the highest number of complaints are for the 2013 Dodge Dart (from both regular users as well as the NHTSA), a few complaints make out the 2014 model year as the worst one.

The Evolution

It was possible to make quick changes to a car based on user reviews back in the ‘60s. Over the next few years, Dodge made small alterations to the Dart body and transformed it into a mid-size car suitable for 2nd gen. That was released in 1962 and another compact version was released in 1963 as the third-generation car of the lineup.

The fourth-generation Dodge Dart was launched in 1967 and it came with additional options alongside a new name: the Dodge Demon. This size repeated till 1976 but updates and refreshes came along the way.

The Slow Decline

The Dodge Dart appealed to the market with its wide array of functionalities at an affordable price. The franchise was now a revolution all across America. In fact, for more than a decade, the representative of the whole taxi market was none other than the Dodge Dart. Specific models were tailored to cater to the needs of consistent and heavy usage.

The industry was ushered into a new era of automobiles in the mid-’70s. However, as the models took on a more commercial look, the Dodge started to lose relevance.

The Aspen

The Dodge Dart got the name Dodge Aspen from 1976 to 1980. The compact car classification paired with the title of Car of the Year from Motor Trend was doing little to bring back market attention to the cars. The Dodge Dart problems were not performance-related but mostly due to how the brand was failing to keep up with the market.

The Aspen featured state-of-the-art technology like a frame for enhanced aerodynamic driving experience, and lighter body material. In 1976, the Dart was marketed as “the family car of the future” and came in a 4-door sedan, 4-door station wagon, and 2-door coupé options. Three trim levels were offered on each design along with a bunch of engine variants.

Numerous updates and changes came in the 1978 model year, including special and customer editions, updated grilles, and automatic transmission. There was also a special edition Kit Car of the Aspen; 144 were ever made.

Leading up to a halt of the production cycle, some noteworthy changes were made like an improved hood, new headlamps, a front bumper, and fenders. The FWD (front-wheel drive) was removed from the Dodge Aries in 1981.

The Final Nail In The Coffin

The Dodge Aries was one last (ditch) attempt at regaining market attention. Dodge tried to incorporate as many features of the previous loved generation into the new Aries, in a way forming it as the successor to the Dodge Dart. Although marketed well, consistent changes over time took away the Aries’ chance to shine.

Other vehicles were launched to follow up the success of the Dart, like the Dodge Diplomat till the company stopped manufacturing in 1989. Another chameleon of the lineup, the Lancer halted production in 1976.

After a lot of poor production and marketing decisions, Dodge finally decided to obliterate the Dart from the market. It wouldn’t make a reappearance until after about two decades.

The Modern Dodge Dart

Chrysler revealed the new Dart as a development car in 2006. Aficionados noted that all of Dodge’s newest creations were set to be launched in 2010. Initially named the Hornet, the new Dart was not a concept until they had to scrap the old ideas due to a financial fallout. Chrysler failed to restructure the company and the lineup took a hit.

All hush-hush was put to rest in 2011 when the automaker made a public statement saying that the revamped Dart would be released soon. The car was released in 2012 and immediately caught people’s eyes with its daring design. If only the car had the features and performance to back it up! This new car was doing nothing to live up to the reputation of its predecessors, to say the least. Check out this review.

Why Dodge Decided To Reinvent Dodge Dart

Dodge sold the original Dodge Dart till 1976 before it was temporarily discontinued. Without much doubt, those were the glory years of the lineup because what was about to follow would taint the reputation of these cars forever.

In summary, the 2013 Dodge Dart failed as a car. It replaced the Dodge Caliber and was undoubtedly better than that. The latest Dart was a fancy addition to the otherwise bland lineup. A roomy cabin, good handling, voice-recognition system, and decent navigation should have set up the scene for it to be somewhat of a good find.

The Dodge Dart’s resurrection was meant to add another dimension to the Fiat Chrysler lineup, the automaker that had recently gotten over the recession. The vision was to bring a great American car with a strong Italian influence. Manufacturers tried to make it comfy, sporty, efficient, and performance-based. Chrysler proposed that the vehicle would use an Alfa Romeo-based platform, ultimately shooting Dodge, Jeep, and Chrysler itself to the next level.

After about four years, the Dodge Dart was removed from the market. The manufacturers put it out to compete with similar models like Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and other cars that sold anywhere between 200,000 to 300,000 units per year. Unfortunately, the best sale year for Dodge Dart was 2015 where it managed to sell less than 90,000 units.

2013 Dodge Dart Problems

2013 marked the year that the Dodge Dart problems started to resurface with a concerning number of user and NHTSA complaints piling up. In addition to that, it was also plagued by the more common issues a Dodge car usually faces.

Due to a complex gear shifter, the car would roll away. The fragile dashboard was prone to damage, the engine would blow due to low mileage, and rust would develop inside the car from time to time. Moreover, the constant wobbling did not do it any good. The most complaints, however, were regarding the engine, with a whopping 74 complaints. The second and third most prominent issues were with transmission and interior accessories respectively.

The highest number of NHTSA complaints talked about the drivetrain issue – more than 450 complaints. Complaints about the brakes section followed with 325 complaints, and the engine category raked in 217 NHTSA complaints.

User Problems

Engine Problems

A common pattern that Dodge Dart users discovered after driving the car for some time was that the Check Engine Light would come on suddenly before the engine started to run rough or die down entirely.

Additionally, the car would rev when the driver would try to hit the brakes, it would not restart after being off for a short time, a burning smell would come from the engine, the car would consume excessive oil, it had a poor ignition coil, and the engine would surge or stall during acceleration.

Dodge Dart engine problems

About the CEL being on constantly, the repair cost averages at around $200, starting at about 40,000 miles. A total of 27 complaints accumulated in this department. The best solution is to replace the engine, change the o2 sensor, replace the cylinder lifter, change the transmission control module, or replace the oil pressure sensor.

A few users mentioned how the engine light has remained on since the moment they bought the car. It seems the CEL comes in tandem with electronic throttle control light and electronic stability control.

Interior Accessories Problems

Unlike the first generation of Dodge Dart, the newest Dodge Darts do not offer convenience and interior comfort in one package. The common issues include:

It’s easy and cheap to fix the sun visors. With an average repair cost of $100, this is one of the cheapest repair costs in this department. It’s best to simply replace it. But although a relatively inexpensive fix, it can get annoying when your Dodge Dart continually develops this issue starting at 36,000 miles.

Transmission Problems

If you search up Dodge Dart 2013, chances are, you will see a lot of discussion about the poor transmission. Prevalent transmission issues include:

  • Transmission has stopped working
  • Service transmission light on
  • Rough shifting
  • A red light on all gears
  • Jerking motion
  • Over-revving before shifting
  • Not shifting at all

The best solution to a broken transmission is to replace it, and this is amongst the pricier fixes. Problems start appearing close to the 37,000 miles mark.

NHTSA Complaints

Drivetrain Problems

NHTSA has registered numerous complaints about the 2013 Dodge Dart, particularly focusing on the drivetrain. The poor powertrain has resulted in four fires, ten crashes, and even two deaths. With the problems first occurring at about 44,000 miles, users have complained that the car does not give them much control, the CEL turns on and stops working, and the car shifts to neutral automatically.

Brakes Problems

The braking problems, in this case, refer to the electronic stability control and service brakes. These issues have resulted in three fires, nine injuries, 26 crashes, and fortunately, no deaths.

Users report noticing a loss of power, the car not shifting into gear, loss of communication between the ABS module and the onboard computer of the vehicle, the emergency brake not holding, noise from the brake pedal when it’s depressed, and failure of emergency during driving. Problems start arising at 28,000 miles.

Engine Problems

Complaints from the NHTSA about the engine mainly deal with the engine as well as the vehicle speed control. Issues like that have resulted in seven fires, two injuries, four crashes, and two deaths. The severity rating is 10, so we don’t have to elaborate on how serious that is. Problems started showing around 34,000 miles and users have reported these symptoms:

2013 Dodge Dart Recalls

Apart from holding the record for the highest number of complaints received for any model year of the Dart, the car also had multiple recalls – five in total.

The first recall tried to fix the malfunctioning parking brake, making the car roll when parked and increasing the chances of a crash when the driver isn’t in the car. Nearly 50 cars were affected in the year 2013.

The next recall came the same year but this time it affected 13,000 vehicles. Now the engine was stalling in cold climates. If the engine stalls during a drive, it drastically increases the chances of a crash.

Since the airbags were not deploying properly, this called for the third recall of the Dodge Dart. In many states, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without an airbag to soften the blow upon collision.

The fourth recall was a result of a transmission control module failure. The transmission would shift into neutral, cutting off motive power and raising the risk of a crash. Almost 24,000 vehicles were affected and the recall was announced in August 2015.

Lastly, the fifth recall was announced to address the problems with the power brake booster. It took the Dart too long to engage the brakes, so the driver would have to hit the brakes way before they wanted to stop. Drivers were caught by surprise as they could not calculate how early on they would have to press the brakes. A whopping 110,000 vehicles were affected in this case.

2014 Dodge Dart Problems

In comparison to the 2013 Dodge Dart, the 2014 model year garnered fewer user and NHTSA complaints, but it was still criticized due to high repair costs, problems spawning at low mileage, and other safety hazards.

With the 2014 model year, the repair costs were higher than ever, and it did not even give as much mileage as people expected. The most-reported problem with the 2014 Dodge Dart is the engine dying or stalling while driving.

Primary user issues revolved around engine failures – 48 complaints. The majority of the NHTSA complaints dealt with issues regarding the engine, drive train, and electrical shortcomings.

User Complaints

Engine Problems

As mentioned before, the lion’s share of the user complaints was about the engine issues. Problems included:

If your car’s engine stalls while driving, the repair usually costs (on average) $420. The best solution is to replace the engine completely, update the software, replace the battery, replace the belt, or get an oil change. Users complained that despite replacing the battery, cables, and alternator, the car was prone to dying.

The engine would stall randomly when driving and the automakers and dealerships would not do anything to solve the problems.

Drivetrain Problems

Drive train problems on the 2014 Dodge Dart caused one crash in total – not the worst. Problems would occur at an average of 38,000 miles. Users reported:

  • The vehicle failing to star
  • Shuddering and jerking when shifting
  • Independent shifting of the transmission
  • Vehicle turning off
  • Battery as well as charging system not functioning properly

NHTSA Complaints

Engine Problems

The Dodge Dart was reported to display major engine and vehicle speed control problems. 1 crash and 2 fires later, the issues became more serious. Starting at about 36,000 miles, the issues included:

Brakes Problems

NHTSA complaints focused on the service brakes, traction control, the hydraulic system, and the electronic stability control. A total of 8 crashes, 3 injuries, and 1 fire took place due to these problems that would occur just under 30,000 miles. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the severity, it got an 8.

Users claimed the power brake booster and master cylinder would fail, the brakes would give up while the car is static, dashboard lights would turn on automatically, the car would shut off while driving, the parking brake would not work properly, and the emergency brake would seize up if used.

2014 Dodge Dart Recalls

The first recall addressed issues with the transmission control module as it kept on failing. When the transmission shifts into neutral automatically, this can cut off the power, making it easy to lose control of the vehicle. This problem started showing up in 2015 and messed with more than 24,000 vehicles.

The second recall was announced due to the power brake booster contamination. Combined with internal damage to the component, the problem made drivers lose brake assist, extending the time required to stop a vehicle. It was rather difficult for users to gauge the correct time when they should hit the brakes to stop at a designated point. Happening in late 2015, the problem affected more than 105,000 vehicles.

Facts about Common Issues with Dodge Darts

  1. The Dodge Dart received an above-average reliability score of 4.0 out of 5.0 from RepairPal, but it ranked 28th out of 36 compact cars.
  2. The 2016 Dodge Dart scored 78 out of 100 from J.D Power and received a 4.2 out of 5.0 consumer rating from Kelley Blue Book, falling short of the top 10 sedans of that year.
  3. Following the recommended maintenance schedule and replacing faulty components immediately can help increase the car’s service life.
  4. Some common problems that may arise with Dodge Darts include excessive oil consumption, engine stalling, suspension system issues, malfunctioning transmission, broken sun visor, battery failure, and brake-related issues.
  5. Used 2015 Dodge Dart buyers should be aware of excessive oil consumption, which may require a mechanic to replace faulty oil rings or replace the engine.
  6. Some 2014 Dodge Dart owners experienced engine stalling or dying, which was sometimes solved by a software update for the engine computer or addressing low oil pressure, malfunctioning sensors, and faulty wiring.
  7. Suspension system issues in 2013 Dodge Darts have been reported, with front passenger side axles snapping without warning.
  8. Transmission-related issues have been reported in some 2013 Dodge Darts, requiring a replacement of the entire transmission.
  9. Some 2013 Dodge Dart owners have had problems with their sun visors snapping, which can be solved by replacing the faulty visor.
  10. Battery failure and brake-related issues have also been reported with some Dodge Darts, with some owners having to replace their battery or alternator, or having to deal with unusual noises coming from their brakes.


With the new Dodge Dart problems being more severe than ever, users wonder if there was ever a need for a “reinvention.” The former models did more than enough to establish this lineup apart from the rest. However, the latest editions were not up to the mark at all.

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