2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test


2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Info about Skip Shift

May 12, 2009

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Two weeks ago I mentioned my troubles shifting the Challenger due to the presence of skip shift. I had never experienced it before, at first chalking it up to the slanted pistol grip shifter and my own inabilities. When casually accelerating, I'd jam going into second gear as if smacking into a jumbled mass of bolts. It didn't slide into forth. Instead, I let the revs fall, waited and then rammed the shifter into second gear, tearing away to make up for my lost momentum. This happened about 10 percent of the time.

Then I was reminded of skip shift. Rather than my own explanation, here's one from Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh: "Basically, gasoline engines are more efficient when the throttle is opened wider due to reduced pumping losses (think of it like breathing through a paper towel tube instead of a drinking straw). These skip-shift systems allow the engine to operate that way -- when you upshift, revs drop and the load on the engine increases. This is better for efficiency and thus fuel economy.

"The skip shift functions by a lockout on the second gear gate. So if you're shifting out of first gear under a very specific set of conditions (throttle, engine, rpm), the lockout is activated by a solenoid, forcing the gearstick to go into fourth gear gate instead of second gear."

Except, the Challenger never gracefully slides into fourth gear as skip shift is described to do. As it is, it feels more like ramming into a wall rather thangracefully changing course upon grazingoff a gentle lateral ramp.

Yet, even if I did successfully get into fourth, there would still be problems as Kavanaugh continues. "This has deleterious effects on driveability. It cuts the legs out from under the engine. Bogs down like it drove into a swamp.

"The real motivation behind skip shift is obviously that they are a dirt-cheap way for the automakers to improve the MPG numbers on the window sticker (perhaps avoiding a gas guzzler tax). They have little real-world improvement in fuel economy since everyone 'drives around' the skip shift."

The most common solution I've heard is to just drive it hard like any good Hemi driver should. That's all well and good, but sometimes you can't do that.Plus,you don't accelerate the same way every time -- sometimes you meet those exact conditions, sometimes you don't. It's the inconsistancy that's the real annoyance.

Senior Automotive Editor Brent Romans commented thatskip shifthasn't bothered him that much in his Corvette since he usually does a 1-3 shift around town. Whenskip shift does show up, he just pauses in neutral for a moment and guns itlike I did in the Challenger.

The other solution is to disable the stupid thing. A quick look around Challenger and Corvette message boards found a few annoyed owners who purchaseda skip shift eliminator for about $25. Apparently, it's only a five-minute install. I'm saying that would be $25 and five minutes well spent on our Challenger.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Dodge Challenger in VA is:

$149 per month*
* Explanation
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