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Here's Why The Dodge Challenger And Charger Are So Hard To Tune

Muscle Car

There's a very good reason why.

People who buy powerful muscle cars often like to modify them further. The aftermarket tuning industry is worth an estimated $318 billion. For some, there’s no such thing as too much horsepower, even for muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger and Charger, both of which can be had with a 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 with at least 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. Of course there’s more available with the necessary tuning kits, but Dodge purposely doesn’t make this process easy. How come? All in the name of cybersecurity.

Speaking with MuscleCarsandTrucks.com, head of FCA passenger cars Tim Kuniskis acknowledged he’s fully aware of the cybersecurity control units for both models. Over the years, the encryption of these vital systems has improved, but it does come at a price: aftermarket tuners everywhere have a difficult time with these vehicles.

Still, FCA will continue doing what it must. "We’re actually kind of notorious for being the hardest ones to crack,” said Kuniskis. "It makes people mad that our computers are harder to tune than some of the other manufacturers.” FCA realizes the temptation to modify both vehicles to a degree that’s probably illegal in many states and it must protect itself from being held liable. These cars simply attract customers who want even more performance. "It’s difficult because as a manufacturer, you can’t be involved in enabling any of that, because then you’re enabling someone to break the law; violate emissions and things like that. It’s a very slippery slope,” said Kuniskis.

Chevrolet is also taking these same cybersecurity measures and the new C8 Corvette is a perfect example. It’s vital to build hacker-proof cars for an endless number of reasons, but the responsible tuning companies will encounter difficulties. It’s a double-edged sword.

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Fortunately, there are other levels of tuning that can be done to both Dodge muscle cars without issues. "Cat-back exhaust systems and cold-air intakes and things that are outside of that, you can still do. And depending on the car you can still get significant performance benefits,” Kuniskis added.