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Long term Hellcat: Spring arrives with a popular mod and new plates

by Patrick Rall on

After four months in storage, tucked safely away from the nasty road salt that coats Michigan roads from December to April, my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat came out of its lengthy nap after the first few hard rains. The rains rinsed away the salt and as warm weather guaranteed the end of icy roads, I was understandably excited to get back to daily driving my supercharged Mopar muscle car.

No Problems Over Winter

I know a great many Hellcat owners and the majority of them put their cars away for the winter months, even if they live in areas that don’t get “real winter”. Over the past few years, I’ve read about a few different issues that arose during winter storage, ranging from a dead battery and flat tires to small coolant leaks, but my Challenger came out of storage without any issue. The cardboard under the car was as dry as a bone, with no signs of fluids leaks anywhere under the car or in the engine bay. The battery seemed fine and all four tires had proper air pressure, so I fired up the beast, took it for a ride and got it home where I gave it a good cleaning.

Storage kept it out of the road salt, but I don’t have a cover, so the car was covered with dust, but nothing that a good bath couldn’t fix.

Great to Be Back in the Hellcat

I was fortunate to have some exciting test vehicles while my Challenger was in storage, such as the Jeep Trackhawk, but as I addressed in my last long term review piece – the Hellcat is special and I missed driving it every say. With spring arriving, it is back to my daily driver and I am loving every second of it. The four months of driving my Hemi Ram made me appreciate everything that the Hellcat Challenger does so well, so in getting back to it, I am loving the performance and the general driving experience of the 707-horsepower monster.

Even though we have gotten rain pretty much every day for the past week, the Hellcat Challenger has proven to be a great daily driver – even in the rain. When driven reasonably, the supercharged Dodge has no issue on wet roads, so while I cannot enjoy all of that power in crummy weather, I can still enjoy the heated and cooled leather seats and the premium UConnect infotainment system.

Whether it is raining and 45 degrees or sunny and 95 degrees, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is a comfortably daily driver in every situation, but at the same time, when you feel the need to exercise all 707 angry horses – this smooth daily driver is still one of the most powerful production cars sold in the United States.

When my car was in storage over the winter, I missed the combination of interior luxuries and supercharged SRT performance, so it is great to get back to driving the Hellcat Challenger. I’ve been loving every minute of driving the car since it got back on the road in late April, hitting car cruises and events around the area as I prepare for an exciting summer in my supercharged Mopar muscle car.

First Bolt-On Modification

While I installed the Z Automotive BurnBox last year when I first got my Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, this spring brought about the first bolt-on modification. One of the most popular modifications among all modern Hemi owners is an oil catch can and in the Hellcat community, the vast majority of cars with any modifications have a catch can. This item goes inline of the crankcase pressure ventilation system and it captures oil that would normally be sent back into the engine via the air intake system. In the Hellcat cars, the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) system uses a tube that connects the valve cover to a port on the snout of the supercharger. That tube allows any excess pressure from building up in the crankcase, but it also pulls unwanted moisture and vapors from the engine.

Normally, this system recycles all of that air and fluid back into the intake system, where it is theoretically burned up when it heads into the combustion chamber. The downfall to this system is that the PCV system also pulls oil vapors that are sent into the intake system and that can gunk up the intake system. The catch can goes inline of that factory hose path, sending the vapors into the air intake system and providing proper crankcase pressure levels while capturing the oil.

In speaking with engineers from multiple automakers, I’ve been told that the oil being sent back into the intake system can’t hurt anything, but they also don’t deny that the oil and other moisture can eventually lead to reduced engine performance. That is why so many Hellcat owners run an oil catch can, so I figured that it would be a good idea to clean up the intake path of my own supercharged Challenger as well.

There are a handful of companies who offer oil catch cans for the Hellcat Challenger (and Charger), but only one of them is licensed by FCA and Mopar, and that is American Brother Designs. ABD has a huge spread of different Dodge logos that they can engrave into the top of the catch can, but I picked the SRT Hellcat head logo. Of course, since my Hellcat Challenger is Go Mango, I went with the catch can in the same color, with braided black lines and color-matched Go Mango line ends. Thanks to American Brother Designs working with FCA, their logo and color is an exact match, unlike some of the companies who offer knock-off, unlicensed items with the different Mopar logos.

I have never installed a catch can, so I had no idea what I was getting into, but the install was incredibly easy. In short, you remove the stock PCV hose on the passenger’s side valve cover, you pull the end fittings out of that stock hose, you put those fittings in the hoses that come with the American Brother Designs kit, you plug those hoses into the billet fittings on the catch can and you mount the catch can on the engine. It is literally that simple. You remove a hose and a bolt, you install news hoses and the catch can with one bolt.

As you can see in the pictures here, the ABD catch can looks great in the engine bay and while I have driven a couple hundred miles since installing the product, there isn’t a measureable amount of oil in the can yet. It is damp with the moisture being captured from the system so I know that it is working, but I will update on the oil levels in the can in coming long term reviews.

The catch can from American Brother Designs starts at $205 for the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, and that price includes the logo of your choice and the exterior color of your choice, as well as the Hellcat-specific mounting arm. If you want the fancy braided hoses and the color-matching end fittings, the price climbs to $280 but frankly, I love the look with the dressed-up hoses.

Custom Tags

As soon as I got my 2017 Hellcat Challenger, I knew that I wanted to get custom license plates, but unsurprisingly, there are a ton of Hellcat cars with custom plates in Michigan – meaning that all of the basics are taken. Things like “707 HP” or “HELLCAT” are long gone, so we had to get a little more creative.

We settled on “MEOWPAR” – since this is a cat from Mopar – and the plates arrived shortly after the car came out of its winter hibernation.

5,000 Miles

Finally for this chapter of my long term review, last night I went over 5,000 miles in my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. We got the car with 4 miles on it and as I drove home, I hit my 5,000th mile – and what a glorious 5,000 miles it has been. People often ask me “is having that car as great as it seems”, and it really is. Having more than 700 horsepower on tap in a car that is comfortable enough for daily driving in any conditions is fantastic, as is the ability to put bus lengths on just about any car that decides to line up.

I call my Hellcat Challenger my “Daily Driven Dream Car” on Instagram and driving this car every day is truly like a dream come true. The first 5,000 miles were unforgettable and I expect every mile going forward to be just as much fun – with all of that fun chronicled here on Allpar.

In the meantime, check out the other installations of my long term review of the 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat:

Long term test: 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Long term Hellcat: Brutal break-in
Long term Hellcat: burnouts, lighting and other Demon gadgetry
Long term Hellcat: Ceramic coating
Long term Hellcat: Winter in Michigan

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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