Dodge Caliber Problems: 15 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

The Dodge Caliber has experienced its fair share of problems, making it a vehicle of concern for potential buyers. Throughout its production, various issues have emerged, raising questions about its reliability.

Some of the most common problems that plague Dodge Calibers include faulty front ball joints, control arms, and transmission issues.

These complications have led to a less-than-stellar reputation for the model among consumers.

By diving into the specifics of these problems, this article aims to help readers better understand the challenges associated with owning a Dodge Caliber and make informed decisions when considering to purchase one.

The Main Problems

CVT Transmission Issues

The Dodge Caliber is known to experience problems with its continuously variable transmission (CVT), a type of automatic transmission that uses a belt-driven system to provide smooth acceleration without distinct gear shifts.

Owners have reported jerking sensations, fluid leaks, and unusual whining noises occurring at an average mileage of around 48,900 miles.

These issues can ultimately lead to a complete CVT transmission failure, which affects the vehicle’s overall performance, fuel efficiency, and drivability.

To avoid costly repairs, it is crucial for car owners to monitor their vehicle’s transmission and seek professional help if any unusual symptoms are observed.

Faulty Ball Joints and Control Arms

Another prevalent issue with the Dodge Caliber is the presence of faulty ball joints and control arms, which are critical components of a vehicle’s suspension system. These problems can result in suspension and steering failure, making it difficult to control the car and posing a safety risk.

Although this issue can affect any model, drivers should remain vigilant for signs of suspension or steering issues, such as uneven tire wear, poor handling, or strange noises when turning or going over bumps.

If any of these signs are detected, immediate inspection and repair are necessary to prevent further damage.

Water Leak from Sunroof Drain Tubes

Water leaks through the sunroof drain tubes have been reported by 114 Dodge Caliber owners.

This issue can lead to water damage inside the car’s cabin or mold growth, which can cause unpleasant odors and potential health hazards. To resolve the problem, the drain tubes must be cleared of any debris or replaced entirely, ensuring that water drains correctly away from the vehicle’s interior.

Regular maintenance and inspection of the sunroof drain tubes are essential to prevent this issue from occurring.

Cooling System Problems

The Dodge Caliber is also known to suffer from cooling system problems, which can compromise the engine’s ability to maintain a proper operating temperature.

Issues with the cooling system, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, leaking coolant, or a clogged radiator, can lead to engine overheating and potential engine failure if not addressed promptly.

Proper maintenance, including regular coolant checks and replacements, as well as prompt repairs when issues are detected, are necessary to avoid serious damage to the engine components and maintain optimal vehicle performance.

No Start or No Crank Issues

Some Dodge Caliber models experience problems with the theft system wireless control module, an essential component that helps prevent unauthorized access and theft.

Issues with this module can cause the car not to start or crank, leaving drivers stranded. The problem has been reported by 205 owners and can be resolved by replacing or reprogramming the faulty module.

To avoid being caught off guard by this issue, car owners should familiarize themselves with the signs of a failing wireless control module and seek professional assistance if they suspect a problem.

Other Problems

Besides the transmission issues experienced by some Dodge Caliber owners, there are several other minor problems frequently reported. In this section, we will identify the most common of these issues.

Although they may not be as severe as transmission problems, they are worth mentioning for potential buyers and current owners to be aware of:

  • Drain tubes leaking water
  • Front ball joints and control arms issues
  • Engine stalling
  • Engine not turning over or starting
  • Electrical system malfunctions
  • Cooling system defects
  • Suspension problems
  • Brake system issues
  • Exterior and interior paint peeling
  • Radiator fan malfunction

It is crucial for Dodge Caliber owners and prospective buyers to consider these additional problems when evaluating the reliability and overall performance of this vehicle.

General Pros and Cons with the Models

The Dodge Caliber offers a range of advantages and disadvantages in its various models.

In this section, we will take a closer look at both, highlighting the features that make it a desirable choice and the issues commonly faced by its owners.


  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Innovative features
  • Spacious cargo capacity
  • Budget-friendly pricing


  • Transmission issues, especially with the CVT
  • No start or no crank due to theft system wireless control module
  • Water leak from sunroof drain tubes
  • Blown struts
  • Potential need for simultaneous engine and transmission control module updates

What’s the Resale Value?

The Dodge Caliber, though affordable, has become infamous for its reliability issues and common problems. As such, it experiences a significant decrease in resale value over time.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of resale prices for used Dodge Caliber models.

Model year Mileage Price Depreciation
2009 100,000 miles $1,048 – $8,033 High
2008 100,000 miles $795 – $7,435 High

The depreciation rate of the Dodge Caliber can make it an attractive option for those seeking a low-cost vehicle; however, it is important for potential buyers to carefully consider the history of any used Caliber before purchasing, given its well-documented problems.

When evaluating a used Dodge Caliber, ask the seller about the vehicle’s repair and maintenance history, as well as any issues they may have experienced. Remain mindful of its transmission problems and overall reliability.

Proper due diligence can help ensure a better understanding of the vehicle’s condition before making a decision.

What Do the Reviews Say?

The Dodge Caliber has received mixed feedback from reputable automotive websites. Concerns mainly revolve around reliability and build quality. Here are a couple of quotes from authoritative automotive sites:

“The Dodge Caliber has some serious maintenance problems that make it difficult to recommend to anyone.”

“The engine is noisy, and fit and finish are subpar.”

Despite these concerns, some users still appreciate the vehicle’s affordability and fuel efficiency.

Before purchasing a Dodge Caliber, potential buyers should carefully consider the car’s repair and maintenance history to make an informed decision.

Go back: problems for all Dodge models here.

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)

ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.