Why Are Dodge Darts So Cheap?

Dodge Darts are four-door compact sedans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The new generation Dart had a short production lifespan, FCA reintroduced it in 2013, and by 2016, the company had decided to stop production. The Dodge Darts were cheap on initial release and it persisted. This trend persists till now that only used Darts are available. However, new Corollas and Civic, for example, still command a premium. So why then is the Dodge Dart cheap?

Dodge Dart is cheap because it has a lower demand than its rivals. Another reason is rollaway risk issue that caused the manufacturer to recall about 300,000 Darts. Then consider that Dart belongs to the compact sedan category, one of the car categories with fierce competition. The litany of mechanical and electrical problems that trouble the Dart at low mileages added to the already big mess.

After we have checked out why Dodge Dart is cheap, we will check out its reliability. We will also examine if Dart has a lot of problems and why Dodge didn’t produce them for long. 

Reasons That Make Dodge Dart Cheap

Low Demand

From inception, there has low demand for Dodge Darts. The peak annual sales figure for the Dart in the US was 87,392 in 2015. By the following year, Dart sold less than half (44,050). Compared to the Corolla that has sold at least 200,000 cars annually in the last fifteen years in the US alone, it becomes apparent who is far behind Dart in terms of sales.

The apparent lack of interest in the car has only succeeded in driving down the price of Darts. It also led Dodge to decide to discontinue production.

Nothing hurts the price of a product like a lack of interest. In a free market situation, the demand is always the price. Hence, in the case of Dodge Dart, a low order ultimately leads to reduced cost price, especially when you consider the dismal sales figures of Dart compared to market leaders like Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

Therefore, the low value of Dodge darts both as new and used cars is directly related to the low demand for the vehicle.

Various Problems with The Car

Let us also consider another issue that affected the price of Darts; a combination of mechanical problems. There were various complaints about Dart’s suspension and various engine problems. The other complaints included failing blower motors and alternators. The main problem is that while these issues were supposed to come up, they crop up too early.

  • First are the suspension issues. They start to crop up at about 15,000 miles. Complaints vary from noise from the front and rear suspensions. There’s also the problem of the suspension being thrown out of alignment by little bumps. 
  • Also, users sent numerous complaints of the car swaying, unexplained vibrations among others. The bad thing about Dart’s suspension issues is that they are usually quite expensive. Repairs go as high as $7,000. That’s a lot.
  • Apart from dodgy suspensions, another problem Darts have is with their engines—  heavy oil consumption in the 2.4L Dart Tigershark engine.  The engine uses as much as a quart of oil within a thousand miles of driving. The high consumption is the defective engine rings that allow oil to enter the combustion chamber. The problem was so awful car owners had to sue the manufacturers.
  • Finally, the check engine indicator popped up for any reason and sudden stalling of the engine while driving. The most popular Dart complaints were with its engine. This vital component is a massive problem for a car whose average mileage is less than 150,000 miles.

All these complaints lead to prospective buyers looking for other vehicle options. When you think of the cost of repairs, and how many of these problems are reoccurring, you will understand the lack of interest.

This lack of interest leads to a decrease in the value of the Dart. This lack of interest is another reason that makes Dodge Darts cheap.

Bad Transmission

We could have grouped with other the other complaints, but we decided to let it stand alone because of the severity of the issue. A significant problem of the Dart’s transmission is that the gear selectors tend to lock up without warning. This gear selection problem leads to loss of engine power, as the gear sticks to neutral.

That’s not all. Drivers often hear grinding noises when the transmission is shifting gears. A jerking gear usually accompanies the grinding noise. In extreme cases, the transmission packs up entirely and doesn’t work.

The most frustrating aspect of this transmission problem? When you take it to the dealership, they replace the faulty transmissions with the same defective ones. As expected, Dart owners faced another cycle of transmission problems.

Apart from recalling almost 300,000 Darts with automatic transmissions in the US, many Dart owners also sued Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over transmission issues and won huge settlements. Dart’s faulty transmission hurt FCA financially and Dart specifically in sales.

The transmission problems are a significant reason Darts, majorly used ones, are cheap.

Tough Car Category

The compact sedan category is one of the most challenging car categories. Competition is tough, options are abundant, and a single error by manufacturers could prove disastrous.

There are just too many cars to choose from.

In 2013, when FCA reintroduced Dodge Dart into the compact sedan market segment, this is a list of the top compacts of the year.

  • Buick Verano
  • Toyota Prius
  • Mazda Mazda 3
  • Scion TC
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Honda Civic
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Soul
  • Volkswagen Golf

By 2016, when Dodge made the final Dart model, this is a list of the best compact sedans.

  • Mazda Mazda 3
  • Honda Civic
  • Kia Soul
  • Buick Verano
  • Volkswagen GTI
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Kia Forte
  • Ford Focus
  • Scion IM
  • Scion TC

Dodge Dart never made a list. This list shows how competitive the segment is when you think that cars like Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, and Subaru WRX don’t even feature in the top ten. The only Dart can attract patronage with this group of heavy hitters is to make its price attractive.

Customer Complaints

One of the primary means a potential buyer can determine how good or bad a car is by checking its consumer reviews or reports. According to this report by car complaints, the 2013 model of Dodge Dart had a whopping 401 complaints. The complaints varied from the engine (76) to transmission (66) to electrical (49).

2014 had fewer complaints (101), but the engine and transmission complaints were still part of the top three, replacing electrical problems with interior accessories (9). When you have these many complaints from owners, there’s no way doubt doesn’t creep into the mind of potential buyers.

Production Costs

Another thing that affects the price of Darts is the low production costs. The production platform, for example, is shared with Alfa Romeo Giulietta, though it was modified to fit Dart’s dimensions. For its engines, Darts use Tigershark engines employed by Dart, Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 200, Jeep Renegade, and many cars under the FCA badge.

These collaborations help to reduce the production costs of Darts and help them maintain a low price tag on the market.

Are Dodge Darts Reliable Cars?

According to Repairpal, Dodge Dart has a reliability score of 4.0 out of 5,0, above average. On its ranking among compact sedans, Dart comes 28th in 36 cars. Its annual repair costs are also lower than the industry average.

Do Dodge Darts Have a Lot of Problems?

As we have said earlier, they have almost 600 complaints about the four models. These complaints cover engine, transmission, suspension, electrical, interior accessories, and so on,

Why Was the Dodge Dart a Failure?

There are a few reasons for the failure of the Dodge Dart. One of them was that the new Dodge Dart was a radical departure in design from its predecessor. They also had an underpowered engine for a racer car. The transmission issues didn’t also help matters.

How Long Does the Dodge Dart Last?

Dodge Dart lasts between 100,000 to 160,000 miles before developing severe issues.

In Summary

Dodge Dart gets so many things right, a sound infotainment system, excellent handling, and a great safety score. However, there are also so many things it gets wrong. Primarily, its problematic engine and transmission. These problems combine to affect the demand for the car, affecting the price.

Its relativity low-reliability scores, when compared to its competition, is another factor that affects the price of Darts. Let’s not forget strong contenders in the class, complaints from owners. In all, Dodge Dart had the potential to be a great car. However, it was beset by so many problems at its inception that it didn’t recover.

Related: What is the best oil for a Dodge Charger?

Leave a Comment