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Third Generation Challenger HVAC Systems: How it Works

Third Generation Challenger HVAC Systems: How it Works

There are a lot of great things about modern muscle cars. They feature powerful engines with all the bells and whistles, drivetrains built to last the test of time, and suspensions that allows them to put the power to the ground and keep it there. What truly separates a new aged muscle machine from the old ones are creature comforts. Modern muscle cars have all the white-knuckled fun you can handle yet still allow you to sit comfortably, use a cup holder, and even allow you to operate a climate control system to keep the cabin a livable space at all times.

Shop Challenger Heating & Air Conditioning

Whether you see it as a creature comfort or a necessity, maintaining the A/C or heat in your Challenger can prevent costly repairs down the line (such as heater lines bursting). Some pieces are easier to repair and maintain than others, making them prime targets for replacements or upgrades.

Challenger HVAC >>

What is HVAC?

Heating ventilation and air conditioning are something we take for granted in our vehicles. HVAC systems are what allow you to keep the interior cool on hot days, hot on cool days, and simply move around stagnant air to keep you comfortable.

In the early years of the first generation Challengers, these options weren’t all that common. Some cars came with heat, and some came with heat and air conditioning.

A lot of the Challengers from this era simply were not equipped with an HVAC system period. This meant the only method you had to cool or keep the cabin warm was to roll the windows up or down.

Third-generation Challenger owners don’t have to deal with this issue. If they did the experience of the car would be almost nightmarish on hot or cold days.

What Makes up The System?

The components that define an HVAC system are the heater core, AC condenser, and evaporator core. These are the units that change the temperature.

The blower motor moves the air around and the vents direct it. All third-gen Challengers are equipped with these components, even the lowest sub-models.

How Does HVAC Work?

When driving a Challenger it’s easy to take for granted how the HVAC system actually works. To us, we hit a switch on the dash to control the settings and let the car do the magic.

When that switch is hit a series of things must happen in order to control the climate in the cabin. If something goes wrong it’s easy to be taken off guard. If you take the time to understand how each component in the system works it becomes much easier to pinpoint the issue and approach a repair.

Blower Motor:  The blower motor is the component responsible for pushing air through the vents. When the unit is engaged a fan is activated. This fan pushes air through the ventilation system carrying with it the air temperature you tell it to. 

Ventilation System: As the blower motor pushes air the vents direct the air to the point of the cabin desired. The dash controls allow you to shut dampers to help direct the air through the appropriate vents in order to defrost the windshield, warm your feet, or push cool air throughout the entire cabin. 

Evaporator Coil: The evaporator coil is used to take advantage of the refrigerant’s extremely low boiling point. The compressor on the engine sends refrigerant to this unit where it boils at low temperature. The boiling of the liquid pools the warm air out of the surrounding area and only cool air is left. This is how air conditioning systems cool air before it sent through the Challenger’s vents with the blower motor. 

AC Condenser: After the refrigerant has boiled in the evaporator coil, the AC condenser is used to return the vapor to a liquid state. This liquid refrigerant is then sent to the compressor on the front of the engine where the cycle begins again. 

Heater Core: The heater core requires the least amount of contributors to work properly. The heater core uses hot coolant from the engine to give us heat. As the hot coolant passes through the heater core the air around the unit is heated up, and that air is then sent to the cabin of the Challenger. 

Maintaining Climate Control

After you’ve learned the fundamentals about the major components of a third-generation Challenger’s HVAC system, troubleshooting becomes that much easier. If heat doesn’t come on, air doesn’t move, or the ac doesn’t cool the air enough, you have a good idea of where to start looking for problems. Knowing what to look for goes even further though.

Signs of Failure in Heat: Heating rarely disappears from the cabin of a Challenger. The system is tried and tested with decades of improvements to back it. When the temperature of the car won’t rise it can usually be traced to a leak in the heater core or the lines that bring coolant to and from the engine.

Signs of Failure in AC: AC systems have been around for decades and have been featured in Challengers since their start. The weak point of this system is that it relies on refrigerant.

If the AC is not working it’s typically because the system needs a recharge. The repair process is just as easy as testing the condition of the refrigerant within.

Signs of Failure in Blower Motor and Ventilation: Air not being blown or not reaching a particular area of the cabin can be traced directly to the blower motor or the vents. If air is not being blown period the blower motor is at fault.

If the air isn’t being properly directed there is an issue with the vents. The blower motor is strong but does rely on fuses.

This is where to start looking for problems if the blower motor isn’t working. The vents are subjected to the same issue as the dampers may not be activating. The dampers can fail over time and may need to be replaced if they aren’t working.

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