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The Basics of Challenger Suspension Parts

The Basics of Challenger Suspension Parts

The Dodge Challenger does a lot of things very well. The most notable ability it has is to head down the quarter mile as though it were shot out of a cannon. It also handles okay. We can sit and talk about how it heads down the quarter mile and why it does that well; that’s what everyone does. Instead, we’re going to take a look at the suspension and how the car turns and corners. Understanding the basics of the suspension set up is the first step in understanding how to start making improvements. No, third-gen Challengers (2008-2018) don’t handle like the earlier models of the 1970s, but they certainly leave room for improvement.

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Drag racer, track dedicated, street machine, they all need some level of suspension work in order to do their jobs properly. Shock and spring combinations will allow for the exact dampening you need while sway bars will minimize body roll to keep your corners as tight as you intend them. Dial in your Challenger with the perfect suspension setup.

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Challenger Control Arms

Just like most any car, the Challenger is set up with control arms on the front end of the car. Control arms are found leading from the hub of the car to the chassis. The control arms connect the wheel to the chassis while also allowing the wheel to pivot and articulate. By design, the control arms also dictate the geometry of the tires. This has a major impact on the way the car steers. Because of this, it is an extremely popular area for upgrades to be made.

Challenger Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers play a major role in the Challenger’s suspension. Technically speaking, Challengers come equipped with what are called struts on all four corners. Both units are very comparable in the sense that their role is to keep the tire in contact with the ground at all times. 

Though, struts are part of the vehicle's chassis while shocks are not. Because of this, struts play a greater role in the vehicles steering and generally provide better handling traits. The stiffness of the shocks and compression/rebound has a major impact on handling and comfort. Shocks from the factory are usually bit softer so many opt to install aftermarket shocks to improve performance.

Challenger Five-Link Rear Suspension

In the good old days, Challengers and other Mopar muscle cars came equipped with leaf spring rear suspension. Third Gen Challengers come off the factory line with what is called a 5-link setup. This is used because of the independent rear suspension. 

Multi-link suspension setups allow the suspension in the rear to articulate in turns and during launches while maintaining traction. There is room for some improvement with these units but, generally speaking, owners are content with how well these units work from the factory.

Challenger Sway Bars

Sway bars are major players in the overall function of the Challenger in the corners. By design, sway bars are intended to reduce body roll or sway. They do so by tying both sides of the suspension together. By doing so, they also reduce understeer and oversteer in order to give the driver total control through the turn. 

From the factory, third gen challengers come equipped with both front and rear sway. Though, many factors come into play which may push the bounds of the stock unit and their capabilities. Because of this, many opt to replace the factory units with beefier aftermarket pieces to help improve handling.

Challenger Upgrades & Modifications

We suggested the act of making upgrades to some key areas of the Challengers suspension but didn’t touch on why or how these upgrades help. The truth is, making upgrades to the suspension not only helps with how a car handles it can also have a major impact on acceleration and launching as well; suspension upgrades improve all-around performance. So, what are some common upgrades to make?

Common Upgrades for Challengers

Tubular/Adjustable Control Arms: Control arms impact the geometry of the wheels. This directly impacts the way the car steers. Tubular and adjustable units are often swapped in to help users make the adjustments they feel are necessary to improve handling.

Adjustable/Stiffer Shock Absorbers: Stiffer shocks work harder to keep the tires in contact with the ground as the suspension articulates. Fine tuning the compression and rebound really allows users to dial in the Challenger’s suspension and tires need for optimum performance. 

Thicker/Adjustable Sway Bars: Sway bars keep the body from rolling through the turns. Just like anything else, they can deflect and this means they may not work correctly after a certain point. Thicker and even adjustable sway bars are often the solution needed to keep the car flat at all times.

Understanding and Adjusting

To improve handling and steering, adjustments are often made to the suspension. Now, we’re all familiar with the terms camber, caster, toe, and scrub radius, but what do they actually do? Many people have been toying with these adjustments in hopes to get a certain look out of their car but they actually play major roles in how a car works. 

Camber: This is the angle at which the wheel sits from top to bottom. The bottom end can sit outward which is known as positive camber; if it’s leaned in this is negative camber. 

Caster: This is the angular displacement of the steered wheel from the steering axis. The wheel placed in front of the steering axis is known as positive caster while to the rear of it is negative. 

Toe: This refers to how the front of the wheel sits in relation to the centerline of the vehicle. Pointed inward is known as toed in and pointed out is toed out.

Scrub Radius: This is the distance between the kingpin axis and the contact patch of the wheel. In theory, this is where both would come in contact with the road.

Making adjustments to these areas effects how much of the tire is actually in contact with the road under specific conditions. For instance, when preparing to drive on a track that has turns often headed in the same direction, one may want to tap into the suspension making adjustments to these areas to ensure they have as much traction as possible through said turns.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon