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Charger Tech Training: The Two-Day Basic Course

The Dodge Charger is a complex, high-tech patrol sedan. The Charger technician training is completely modular and can be tailored to any audience. As such, the first day of the course can be geared to general fleet admin and the second day to the hands-on techs. The Charger tech training begins with an overall familiarization of the 2011 and newer Charger, but also touches on the older models, since these use different V6 engines and different electrical architectures.

The two-day tech training course has recently been expanded to include the RAM 1500 4x4 SSV and the Dodge Durango SSV. For 2014, the tech training now includes the All-Wheel Drive Charger Pursuit.  

The first day of the course is devoted to general fleet administration and an introduction to the WiTECH diagnostic system, with an overview of other required, special tools. You get a walk around and walk under the police Charger (and all the other police vehicles) with maintenance tips all along the way. And you learn the proper fluids and parts for everything on the maintenance schedule, including the PM intervals.

The hands-on and classroom tech training starts with the basic maintenance that any fleet can do: maintaining fluids, and understanding which fluids are critical and not. The Charger is a little sensitive to the make and weight of some fluids, and extremely sensitive to other fluids. The Charger is not a Ford PI Sedan or PI Utility, and it is not a Chevy Tahoe or Impala, and should not be given the same fluids! Even the maintenance intervals are different.


Critical Trans Fluid

The most critical of these fluids is the Mopar ATF Plus 4 automatic transmission fluid. The change interval for the trans fluid on the police Charger is 60,000 miles. You do not need to flush the trans during the ATF oil change. Just drain it.

You cannot use either Mercon or Dexron ATF in the Charger’s 5-speed automatic. Mercon (Ford) is the stickiest of all the ATF fluids and Dexron (GM) is the slickest of all the ATF fluids. No one (universal) oil can be both sticky and slick at the same time. For the record, Mopar ATF Plus 4 is mid-way between the Ford and GM fluids.

If you use Dexron fluid in the Charger, you will probably get clutch chatter in hotter climates. The Charger’s trans has not experienced any recurring clutches, bands or bearings issues in eight years of police service. Keep that flawless service record by using the correct ATF.


HOAT Engine Coolant

The next most critical fluid in the police Charger is the engine coolant. The Charger uses HOAT (Hybrid Organic Acid Technology) antifreeze, period. The NextGen Ford Police Interceptors also use HOAT. Since 1996, General Motors has used OAT (organic acid technology) coolant, called Dex-Cool. Even though both HAOT and OAT are usually dyed orange, HOAT and OAT (Dex-Cool) must never be mixed.

Both of these extended life coolants (HOAT and OAT) replace IAT (inorganic acid technology). IAT is the original green antifreeze. Since you cannot use fluid color to tell HOAT from OAT, or in some cases OAT from IAT, you have to actually read the label. The HOAT you have on hand for the Ford CVPI will work in the Charger. The OAT (Dex-Cool) you have on hand for the police Impala will cause problems if you use it to top off the police Charger.


Engine Oil and DTCs

The 5.7L V-8 is especially sensitive to the correct weight of engine oil. The simple change from 5W-20 weight oil to 5W-30 weight oil will slow the activation and deactivation of the components in the Multiple Displacement System (cylinder deactivation). In fact, the use of 5W-30 oil in the 5.7L engine may affect the MDS enough to throw a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) on the instrument panel.

For 2008, Chrysler vehicles come with on-board engine oil change interval software. Similar to GM’s system, you don’t need to change the oil until the OIL CHG REQD light is illuminated. However, the maximum oil change interval for both the 3.6L V6 and the 5.7L V8 in police service is 6,000 miles, no matter if the oil change light comes on or not.


Scan Tools and Modules

The Charger is loaded with both retail and police-specific modules. Today’s tech needs to know the features and locations on more than a dozen interior, exterior and trunk modules when working on the police Charger. During this training, the tech learns the basics about the scan tools, where the most important modules are, how to navigate the awesome TechCONNECT Web pages, and some of Dodge’s maintenance lingo and acronyms.

Student reference manuals and upfitter guides are provided to participating techs. They learn how to access and navigate Chrysler’s online service manuals used in conjunction with the WiTECH system. The MasterTech program is also reviewed. When enrolled, techs can acquire specific component/system training up to a skill level 2 online and at their own pace.

The Charger tech training identifies all the modules, modes, drivers and sensors in the Charger. The course includes the acronyms for all the modules, what functions they control, what features they have, and where they are located. The course especially focuses on police-specific modules.

The powertrain control module, i.e., the Next Generation Controller (NGC), is located against the firewall on the right side near the hood hinge and under windshield mesh panels. The Central Gateway Module (CGW) is incorporated into the Front Control Module (FMC). The Cabin Compartment Node (CCN) combines the functions of a Mechanical Instrument Cluster (MIC) with a Body Control Module (BCM). Most exterior lights are controlled by the Front Control Module (FCM) based on bus messages from the Cabin Compartment Node (CCN) and the Steering Control Module (SCM).


Wiring Diagrams

The police Charger tech training puts an emphasis on how to use wiring diagrams. All wiring diagrams are shown with: 1) the car door closed, 2) the key removed, and 3) all circuits timed out. The tech can zoom in-out on all wiring diagrams and scroll left-right, up-down. The electrical architecture for the 2006-2007 Chargers, the 2008-2010 Chargers, and 2011-2014 Chargers are all very different.

Less than 10 percent of the DTC fault codes are properly diagnosed, so the Body Electrical course focuses on understanding how the systems work. This includes finding the wiring schematics on the Internet and finding the modules on the car. Half the problem solving is finding the right module and knowing what info that module has.

The body electrical section begins with a flashback to trade school: a review of Ohm’s Law. This law of electrical circuits says that the current (in amps) between two points is directly proportional to the voltage drop (the push from positive to negative) and inversely proportional to the resistance between them.

Ohm’s Law is a reminder to use the proper wire size for upfitting, or to select the proper device for the wire size if it cannot be changed. It is also a reminder that the amp load on 3 feet of 18-gauge wire is very different from the amp load on 20 feet of 18-gauge wire.

Ohm’s Law is also a reminder that resistance may increase at the location wires are spliced together, or where corrosion has essentially reduced the effective gauge of the wire.

Both the tech for the police Charger and the upfitter for the police Charger must really understand the relationship between volts, amps, resistance and watts. If not, instead of smoke coming from the tires, smoke will come out of the trunk, hood or center console.

Even the slightest increase in resistance at a spliced connection affects the extremely low-voltage components. That is why straight solder connections are no longer recommended, due specifically to the reality of poor solder jobs. Instead, crimp and solder. And then protect this connection with marine-grade heat shrink.


Power Distribution Centers

The police Charger has two power distribution centers (PDC) where the majority of the electrical system fuses and relays are housed. The front PDC is under the hood on the right side of the engine compartment. The rear PDC is located in the trunk, near the battery, under the hinged trunk floor trim.

The tech gets a glimpse into upfitting by removing the front fascia and accessing the Police Taxi Interface Module (PTIM) in the center console. On the newest Chargers, this is now the Vehicle Systems Interference Module (VSIM). These modules are used to integrate police gear. To access the Upfitter’s Guide, go to, click on Fleet Vehicles, and then click on Police Vehicles.

The no-charge, police-specific training is available in-house at the police and sheriffs departments running larger fleets of Chargers. For more information, contact George Bomanski, National Fleet Service Manager at 407-257-1532 and Dodge requires a minimum of eight techs for the course, and these can come from a combination of nearby agencies. Since the training is definitely hands-on, the class size is limited to 12 techs.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2014

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