Dodge SRT Hellcat Models’ Two-Key System Explained

By Dodge’s own admission, the 2021 Dodge SRT lineup offers gear heads a range of “Top-tier muscle” with high-powered versions of their Challenger, Charger, and Durango models.

Dodge relies heavily upon their SRT and Hellcat models to continue their legacy of being a brand built from gas-guzzling muscle cars from an era that has long gone. With classic models like the R/T, SCAT Pack, and the newer Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye models, the jewel in the Stellantis crown, dodges offers vehicles for every niche and level of the muscle car segment.

The most powerful vehicles in the range receive a mighty Supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, which in Hellcat models produces 707 horsepower and in the infamous Dodge Demon 840 horsepower. These models sit above the 6.4 liter V8 Hemi engines as found in the Durango SRT 392.

Introduced as the third generation Challenger received its facelift the Hellcat name has gone from strength to strength and seen plenty of successful iterations from the more powerful Redeye to the Widebody.

The SRT Hellcat’s two-key system makes cars safer and highly practical.

What Is The Red And Black Key?

The first Hellcat model saw introduction for the 2015 model year as the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. With Dodge having realized the sheer power that their Hellcat models produced, they identified them to be potentially dangerous on the roads. In wet conditions, over 700 horsepower heading straight to the rear wheels could have made the car a near-death trap, equally infamous as the 993 911 GT2.

Frequent crashes with such a high-profile car for the company would be a PR disaster that could risk reducing the Hellcat to nothing more than a meme, as happened with Mustangs leaving car meets. Dodge lent into this potential a little further, referring to the car as “Unleashed” as it found its way to dealerships at the tail end of 2014. The company even wore its EPA fuel economy rating of 22 miles per gallon as a badge of honor and in a 2015 advertising campaign branded the car a “predator.”

This emphasis on the car’s aggression may seem hyperbolic, it’s still too much for the roads, and they found a solution. With the car’s advanced software, it can limit the engine’s power production to a mere 500 horsepower.

Each key has a unique ID which the car can identify. Loading this engine profile is simple, the driver just uses the manufacturer-provided black key instead of the red key, which takes all limits off of the supercharged engine.

Related:2022 Dodge Charger: Costs, Facts, And Figures

What Dodge Models Have A Red Key?

Dodge’s Hellcats aren’t like a BMW M car, only vehicles powered by the 6.2 liter Hellcat engine become Hellcats. Often manufacturers have a less uniform approach to their performance models with a range of engines, drivetrains, and power outputs.

Dodge is incredibly proud of this engine with it being their most powerful ever, as well it ranks in the top 15 engines of 2015. Quite simply, the Hellcat models come with these two keys, only these cars in the Dodge lineup need to have their excessive power limited. Although any driver could get into plenty of trouble with the Dodge Durango SRT 392 which has 475 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds.

Currently, on sale with the Hellcat engine and thus receiving the red key are the Challenger and Charger, which also have Redeye versions that boost power to 797 horsepower. New to the lineup in 2021 is the Dodge Durango Hellcat, which does not receive this twin key setup. A one-off Durango Hellcat Redeye is in Dodge’s ownership.

However, there is little need for a successor. Dodge proudly boasts the car’s “Best-in-class towing capacity of 8,700 pounds”, as well as a highly technical performance all-wheel-drive which can send 70% of its torque to the rear axle to make the large SUV more engaging.

Related:The Dodge Challenger Hellcat Would Destroy Any Of These Expensive Supercars In A Drag Race

How Much Does It Cost To Replace?

One of Dodge’s defining traits is affordability, a base Durango starts at a little over $33,000 and a base Challenger is just shy of $30,000. The Hellcat models carry a higher price tag with the Challenger Hellcat starting at $61,850 which in terms of horsepower per dollar is one of the best value propositions in recent years. However, Dodge keeps costs down by offering a less premium-feeling interior than that found in a similarly powerful Audi RS6 Avant which starts at $109,000.

The net positive of this is that repairs can be cheaper with these parts coming from the Dodge parts bin. It’s recommended to approach a Dodge dealer to sort a replacement key. But sometimes approaching car dealers isn’t always possible. Online locksmiths advertise being able to not only make a replacement key. Some specialists can program a key ID that is either limited to that 500 horsepower figure or one that unlocks the full 700+ horsepower figure that the Hellcat engine provides.

Independent locksmiths quote the cost of the key itself as being between $130 and $150 and the programming of the keys twice that. Losing performance car keys has never been the cheapest pastime, Aston Martin’s keys with their wedge of crystal can cost well over $2000 which might make the loss of a Hellcat’s keys a little easier to stomach.

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