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Interested in a Dakota

Discussion in 'Dakota, 1998-2013 Durango and Aspen' started by codypet, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. codypet

    codypet Well-Known Member

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    Hi everyone. I have a new job close to home which has tempted me to ditch the econobox commuter car and pickup a Dakota (hopefully 97-04) that would officially allow me to retire the minivan from house duty amd begin its restoration. I'm looking for something that would handle light duty Home Depot runs be able to pull a landscape trailer and the occasional 3 mile commute for work when the weather is bad. I'm wondering if theres anything I need to look out for engine wise as far as known problems. If theres particular engines/transmissions/features that are problematic? I also wanted to know if keyless entry was common on those models. Any information you may have would be great. Thanks.
     
  2. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    Only thing I know of is that the original ball joints often failed early.
     
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  3. ptschett

    ptschett Well-Known Member

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    Mine was an '05 but the powertrain was largely carryover. Going from 0 to 130k miles my 4.7L went through 2 cam position sensors, a fuel injector, an oil pressure sensor and an EGR solenoid; the 545RFE only needed fluid/filter changes and I changed the fluid in the transfer case a few times just for peace of mind.

    WRT keyless entry, I knew a guy years ago who had an '03ish quad cab when it was nearly new and I seem to remember he had keyless entry, but I'm not remembering if it was factory or if it was part of a remote start setup (popular here in the frozen tundra of ND.) I had keyless entry with the awkward mid-2000's "fob that also has a key sticking out of it" setup, but I think that was part of the new electronics architecture that the '05 had.
     
    #3 ptschett, Feb 26, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  4. codypet

    codypet Well-Known Member

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    Original ball joints as in the early models and it was resolved in the 03 04 models or was it a problem thoughout the generation and you have to go aftermarket to get ones that last?
     
  5. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    Brakes were a bit week on the early models 97-02 and the 03/04 got larger front rotors and optional rear discs.
    The 3.8, 5.2 and 5.9 engines were pretty good though the heads can crack (not always serious) and the intake plenum gasket can leak causing poor running and excessive oil use.
    3.7 and 4.7 seem to really last forever or fail early. If they are allowed to get hot, their lifespan shortens.
    Transmissions get a lot of complaints, but with reasonable care can last a long time.
     
  6. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    I think it was 98-04, and Moog was the OEM brand.
     
  7. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    Some were recalled, but I think it was only certain years of the 4wd Dakotas.
    I never had issues on earlier ones, but every newer Dakota I've owned needed ball joints in the 100-110k mile range (and these were 2wd).
    Aftermarket Moog ball joints for these are good.
     
  8. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    That's partially why I went with a Ram 1500 in 2006. Add in the incentives the dealer threw in ($5500 in rebates), available Hemi and not much difference in fuel mileage and it was a no brainer to go with the Ram.
     
  9. codypet

    codypet Well-Known Member

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    Yea I really didn't want to go as big as the RAM, and was not that big of a fan of the last generation of Dakota. I always liked the older Dakotas and it seemed like a good pickup. Sounds like for my use if I keep an eye out for a well maintained 3.7 I should be in good shape. I doubt I'll need the V8 for my use.
     
  10. Doug D

    Doug D Virginia Gentleman

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    Understood. From my perspective, the later Dakota's were dang near as big as a Ram. I wasn't fond of the squarish look either. A V6 should serve you well.
     
  11. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    3.9 is just a 318 with two missing cylinders. The transmission behind a 3.9 is a 4 speed, not a 5 speed automatic.
    In my earlier post, I typed 3.8 when I meant 3.9. Issues could include head cracks and the intake manifold plenum but otherwise i is a durable, but not overly more efficient than a V8 engine.
     
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  12. ptschett

    ptschett Well-Known Member

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    My dad has a pair of 3.9/manual Dakotas, a '93 and a '95, both Club Cab 4x4's and that engine has been fine in those. The only unusual issue I remember from either was that the '95 had a catalytic converter failure once that restricted the exhaust somehow.
     
  13. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    My brother bought new a 92 Dakota V-6 4-spd auto 4WD club cab in FL. He towed a 22' Catalina sailboat cross-country with it with no issues. I bought it in 2004 and in 2009 towed a 93 Daytona 220 miles home with it with no issues.
    During his ownership, it once stalled out on acceleration, and the bronze distributor bushing had worn and caused dist shaft wobble, shearing the fuel injection pickup. Also, the catcon clogged, backing up and melting the EGR transducer.
    I bought it at 124K miles, now have 215K miles on it. The original fuel pump died 2 months ago. Other than that, the drivetrain has been solid and is all original. Gets 20 mpg highway and 16-17 city.
     
  14. Wade in Minnie

    Wade in Minnie New Member

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    I have a trusty(rusty)99 parked out front with 190k, use it like a old mule, 100 deg to -25 it doesn’t ask why, it just does. It’s probably got bad ball joints but since the steering's so loose, I don’t notice. The transmission has slipped at -0 or below since I’ve owned it, 10 years now and it still slips to this day, my garage guy says it’s still safe to drive, so I keep wheeling it. It fires with half a turn on the starter whenever and hauls cement blocks, canoes, bass boats or a gallon of milk whenever asked. Yes it smells like anti freeze and occasionally I’ll catch a whiff of burning mopar electronics but it and I don’t mind, I just put back out in my pasture (street) till I need it again. I’d say buy one.
     
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