Updating the Stereo Firmware:
Firmware updates are an inevitable part of modern technology in cars, and our Charger's aftermarket Pioneer head unit is no exception. 'We discovered our firmware update by accident, while searching the Pioneer website for an article. There was a tab on the site labeled "Firmware and Software," and it contained a link to a file for updating the firmware of our head unit to version 1.03. Normally, we'd have registered the head unit ourselves and thus been apprised of any updates automatically, but the registration card must have gotten lost in the install process, and the Pioneer website wasn't cooperating with us to set up an account.
In any event, here's what the update entailed, according to Pioneer:
- Expanded compatibility with Google Android Auto
- Fixed a pop noise problem while playing a music file in SD
- Minor bug fixes
The first bullet point caught our attention. Deputy Managing Editor Caroline Pardilla, one of the few Edmunds editors who has an Android phone, said the head unit would not recognize her phone. Our hope was that this update would fix that.
We downloaded the file to a FAT32-formatted USB drive. Pioneer requires the drive to have at least 2GB of storage space. After verifying that our car's unit was running version 1.0, we pressed the "firmware update" button in the Settings menu. It prompts you to plug the thumb drive into the USB1 port of the receiver. Luckily, we have a cord with a female plug, so there was no need to locate it on the back of the head unit.
Once we hit "Start," the firmware update began and we got a DOS-looking screen. It took roughly eight minutes to complete the update. Once we saw the "Update Complete!" screen, it was safe to remove the USB drive. The last step was to press the Home button to reboot the stereo and finalize the update.
The update wasn't a complete success, because it ultimately didn't solve the Android issue for us. One of our readers theorized that the USB wires at the rear of the head unit were plugged in the wrong way. This may require a trip back to PCH Auto, where the stereo was installed. We'll look into this sometime soon.
Dealer Maintenance and Repair
Soon after we purchased our Charger, we started to notice that the parking brake wasn't holding the car in place as well as it should. After a while, you'd press the pedal to the floor and it would do nothing.
Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds recommended that a mechanic take a look. "You don't want the transmission bearing the weight of this car," he said.
We took the Charger to our local Dodge dealer and the mechanic confirmed that the parking brake needed new shoes. For those unfamiliar with this setup, our Charger's parking brake relies on a set of drum brakes, located behind the rear rotors. The brake shoes within the drums had worn out and needed to be replaced. This repair looked fairly complicated, so we thought it best to have it performed at the dealership's service department.
The $138 shoe kit was not in stock, so we ordered it and paid in full, a fairly common practice for dealers who prefer not to be on the hook for an expensive part, just in case the customer later decides to buy it elsewhere. The kit arrived the following day. Our Dodge dealership billed us for two hours of labor to replace the shoes, at a cost of $230. Total cost on this repair was $368 plus tax.
Before we dropped off the Charger at the dealer, we noticed that it was almost time for an oil change. The owner's manual calls for one every 6,000 miles under a normal service schedule. It had been about 5,500 miles since the last oil change and given that we'd driven the Charger hard for standard testing and a comparison test, taking care of it early wasn't a bad idea.
An oil change on the Charger calls for seven quarts of synthetic oil, which the dealer priced at $9.70 per quart. The oil filter cost about $12. The oil change totaled about $111.40 after the 0.3 hour of labor.
After picking up the car, we saw a familiar sight: a window sticker reminding us to get an oil change in 3,000 miles. Guess old habits are hard to break.
Chapter 1: Busting Millennial Myths and Shopping for a Used Car
Chapter 2: Buying a Car Under Recall and What It Took To Fix It
Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Back-up Camera
Chapter 4: Minor Maintenance and DIY Repairs