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Dodge Dakota Suspension and Axles

24

Comments

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Trap,

    Mine is a 2003 Club Cab Sport Plus, 4.7 engine, 545RFE transmission with 3.55 limited slip 9 1/4 rear axle and 16 x 8 inch cast aluminum wheels, front and rear sway bars. I've since replaced the Goodyear P245/70R16s with Michelin P255/70R16 LTX M/S. My factory invoice doesn't say anything about having a handling package, but I guess it came standard with the Sport Plus in '03.

    I can't remember the model of Goodyear tire I had originally, but I really like the Michelin LTXs. They have better snow traction and are significantly quieter. i can't complain much about the Goodyears, I got 55,000 miles out of them and they still had five or ten thousand left.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yep. Got lot's of snow here, too. Much of it went away with the warm up last week, but Saturday it came back. Supposed to be in the teens tonight here in Rochester.

    By the way, love Vermont! Live Free or Die.

    Yeah, we get heaving of course, but the Dak seems to be stiffer in the mornings especially even on otherwise smooth road. I'm suspicious that there's moisture in the shock fluid that's freezing and causing the ride to be very stiff. It appears to be much more noticeable in the rear...of course, where's there little weight.

    In fact, this caused me to recall a Ford Taurus I once worked on. The customer complained that the car "jumped" all over the road on real cold days. One day when the temperature was about 5 degrees above zero, this lady brought the car to me and asked me to drive it. Sure enough, it was like a bucking bronco. I could tell that the right rear was not bouncing, and upon further inspection we found the rear shock to be completely immovable. It was frozen in position.

    It's possible that worn shock seals let in moisture, which causes interrupted shock movement. There are no signs of shock oil leaking from any of mine...yet. But they could still be worn.

    Anyway, I'm thinking this spring I'll flip for new shocks. That's why I wanted to talk to you.

    By the way, what color are the IAS shocks?

    Bests,
    Dusty
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    The Edelbrock IAS shock absorbers are bright red. (with black bellows protecting the piston rods)

    I expect that the bellows on the piston rods really keeps out the grime that could wear at the seals. Also, the IAS shocks have LARGER piston rods as well as DOUBLE seals. (the piston rods are also made of nitro-steel)

    Basically the IAS shocs are a ONE TIME purchase. They are designed after desert-racing trucks. Their pantented design truly cross the boundaries of SOFT RIDE as well as CONTROLLED HANDLING in one package.

    For me, I expect to drive my Dakota into the ground (keep it as long as I can) so it was a no-brainer for me to choose the MONOTUBE IAS shocks.

    I also have a BORLA 100% stainless exhaust system that carries their famous "million mile warantee". I also use RadLine lube in all 4 gearcases (Xmission, Xfercase, front/rear diff.)

    BTW: I purchased my IAS shocks from SHock warehouse out of florida.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yeah, I expect to be driving mine well into the next decade. My son got 14 years out of a '91 Dakota before he went into the Army and even the body on that truck was really good up until a year or so.

    I've elected to keep mine completely stock, although I have toy'ed with the idea of putting a larger Throttle Body on the 4.7. But in all honesty, she runs fine and performs well as it is for my purposes. Overall I'm quite happy.

    But I think it's time to retire the shocks.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • just thought I would add my 2 cents on these shocks since I installed set about 30k ago and they have been great. what a difference! would recommend to anyone considering new shocks
  • Has anyone had there balljoints replaced under warranty (dodge sent me a letter a few yrs ago stating that are covering the upper balljoints only for 10yrs or 100k.) I have read that this was a problem on Dakotas and Durangos from 97 -03 I think 60 mins or dateline even did a spot on it yrs back. I think mine are shot as I'm I have been experiencing a knocking/bumping/loose/wiggle sound when turning over bumps at moderate speeds from the front end sorta like a car with worn cvc joints minus the creaking. However I do get a popping sound now and then which I have had since day one but seems to have gotton worse. What I'm wondering is so I dont get the push over at the dealer or else where is how can I tell if they balljoints are bad? If they are bad should I also replace the lower balljoints while everything is apart? How much does this sorta job cost? anyone have any exp with this situation. Also last time I was for my alignment after replacing all 4 tires my alignment guy indicated that some of the bushings are looking pretty bad and might have to replace some of them. Not sure which ones though he ment but just from looking under the truck various ones they appear to be either compressed fully and or dry and cracking. again any recommendations on this? is it possible to get a bushing kit and just replace them all? how much? where to buy? what brand and type? urathane? any and all info would be helpful. anyothers that have replace bushings?
  • Curios about your Dakota. Is it a 4WD? Not sure I could justify the cost of the edelbrocks and I am concerned about the ride.

    As for Balljoints. I reported issues early on with mine and when I received the recall notice contacted Chrysler Canada and USA (My 2000 Dakota) was purchased in Ottawa and I currently reside in the San Francisco Bay area. I was flatly refused. My ball joints were in need of replacement, but under no circumstances would Chrysler do it or even pay for a pro rated replacement. I do have a lot of miles on my truck. Currently 252,000 km or 156,500 miles. I was back in Ottawa in Sept 2005 and my brother in law who is a great mechanic replaced the ball joints for me at the garage he works at. The mileage was 205,000km or 127,000 miles. He of course did an alignment as well. I cost me about $550 CDN. I was quoted $750 US at a local Midas, and of course more at any Dealer. I did keep the instructions that Chrysler included with the parts. If you like I could e-mail them to you. It seems to be a bit of a process as you need to grind of the old ones before installing the new ones.

    I would suggest calling Chrysler. I get the impression they have determined on their own which VIN will get the ball joints at what mileage. I obviously was not lucky. In my research, those Dakotas in winter climates with snow, salt and slush seem to be more at risk... but would probably get the work done, no matter. Safety.
  • I am also curious about any Bushing suggestions.....
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Slick,

    The noises you're experiencing are all typical of a bad ball joint. The uppers were recalled and you should still be able to get them replaced under warranty. I believe the ball joints were warranted for ten years under the recall.

    A-arm bushings typically looked cracked or split at the very end that is visible just underneath the washer. That is not an indicator that the bushings are bad. In order to really judge the state of the bushings, a pry bar should be used to detect movement at the pivot points, or relieve the A-arm from the frame and visibly check them.

    At the moment I don't recall what year Dak you have, but '99s through '02s were famous for noisy sway bar bushings. Chrysler has since upgraded the sway bar bushing material, but I've been told by a number of Dakota owners that aftermarket urethanes are the better item and probably good for the life of most Daks.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Trap,

    I believe you can get a reimbursement from Chrysler for the ball joints you replaced as long as you have a valid receipt. I know of one individual that was reimbursed.

    When I did my first tire rotation soon after taking delivery of my 2003, I noticed that the rubber joint bellows (cover) were collapsed on both upper and lowers. I mentioned this to the dealer service manager and he said to get the truck right in and they'd get some grease in them. I was pleasantly surprised that when I drove up they had a technician waiting for me. I never shut the engine off, they took it right in and greased them.

    I knew about the possibility of short ball joint life on previous Daks when I bought the truck, since I know a number of previous owners. Mine were replaced well after 50K, so I suspect that the early greasing help stretch the life.

    The issue with the joints, by the way, was a defective seal assembly technique by the component manufacturer (TRW) that allowed moisture into the ball joint.

    Bests,
    Dusty
  • thanks, I got an 01 q/c sport 4.7 2wd lsd 4wheel anti locks 60k
  • was wondering if anyone has any exp or info on changing out the stock bushings for polyurathane ones. I have an 01 q/c 60k. I have ck out a few companies however none seem to offer a full master kit.
  • duke15duke15 Posts: 161
    My father-in-law has a 2001 Dakota, 2wd. He lives in Virginia and while getting his vehicle inspected (state law) he was told his ball joints needed replaced or he would fail the inspection (non-dealer). He paid to get them replaced, and remembered the recall once he got home. The ball joints would have been covered by the recall. He called the local dealer to see if he could at least get reimbursed for the parts, and they told him that since he decided to fix it on his own, the ball joints aren't covered under the warranty.

    Has anyone else been in a similiar situation or think if he writes or phones Chrysler North America that he might be able to recoup at least some of his costs?

    Thanks
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    That is not what the Dodge folks told me (not the dealership) I received several phonecalls from somone at Dodge (because I had not taken my Dak in for the recall) and she told me that the dealerships MUST inspect/replace the balljoints.

    I questioned her for several minuts...explaining that I already had the upper balljoints replaced. She INSISTED that a Dodge dealer MUST inspect/replace them anyway.
  • duke15duke15 Posts: 161
    Thanks for the reply, bpeebles. It looks like he won't be able to recoup the cost, but we are still hopeful. He's going to call Dodge North America and see if he gets lucky. I'll let you know.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I have a 1990 Dodge Dakota, 3.9 L gasoline engine, two-wheel drive with about 150,000 miles on the odometer. I've been noticing a kind of "swish-swish" sound coming from up front by the wheels and lately it has been getting to be more of a "grind-grind" sound. It seems to happen twice per wheel revolution, although I could not swear to that.

    I put the front end up on stands and took off the tires and then the rotors and pulled out the wheel bearings, inboard and outboard, cleaned out the grease from them and the races and inspected them as well as I could. I spun the bearings but couldn't see, hear or feel any trace of roughness or wear. I regreased the bearings and put them back in the rotors and reinstalled everything. The noise was still there.

    I then put the right side up on a stand and this time removed the outboard bearing and put in a new one (just the cone, not using the race provided, but leaving the old race in the rotor). I reassembled and heard the same noise on road testing.

    I tried swapping the passenger side front wheel and tire with the rear, but found no change.

    I then put the old bearing back in and brought the truck to a tire shop and asked them to have a look/listen and give me an opinion. Their $20 result was to say that the tires are OK but I probably have a bad wheel bearing.

    I went home and bought a set of bearings and races for the passenger side rotor and took the cleaned rotor to a local machine shop to have the old races removed and the new ones installed. The shop also "cut" the disc surfaces because they said it isn't always possible to exactly match the position of the new race with the old race's position. I took the rotor home, installed the bearings and new seal for the inboard bearing and heard the same noise with a road test.

    Today I took the truck to another tire shop for a second opinion. That mechanic also road tested the truck, put it up on a lift and spun the wheels and his $15 opinion is that the problem was a bad bearing on the drivers side.

    I took the truck home and got another new set of races and bearings for the driver's side, but only installed the bearings, leaving the old races in the drivers side rotor. Road test showed that the same noise was still there.

    The only odd thing I have noticed in all this is that one of the wheel studs on the passenger side seemed to allow the lug nut to keep turning tighter and tighter. I didn't notice this last time I put the tire and wheel on, so maybe it was not really happening. I looked at the rear side of the stud and it hasn't pulled any deeper into the wheel, and I haven't noticed the stud itself turning.

    Would appreciate any guesses as to what can be happening.
  • Hi dustyk!

    In case it hasn't been brought to your attention yet, "LIVE FREE or DIE" is New Hampshires state slogan. :)

    Enjoy all the info on this forum.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I left the pickup at a local repair shop and the mechanic zeroed-in on the differential. The shop telephoned me to come back and talk to the mechanic. He pried off the rubber cover over what I suppose is the fill-hole in the back of the differential and held a light there as he stuck a screwdriver in the fluid, then pulled it out and told me to note the silvery color of the fluid on the screwdriver shank. He thinks the carrier bearings are failing. The shop is quoting something over $700 to do a repair, and I am thinking I will park the pickup in the driveway until I can do any necessary work myself!

    Getting back to the mechanic, he also held a mechanic's stethescope to the differential near the drivers side axle (this is a two-wheel rear drive pickup) and I could hear some noise, which he described it as a "growling".

    He didn't listen to the transmission near the output bearing, but said he is almost certain the problem is in the differential, or possibly the rear axle bearings. (I seem to get in a real no-brain state when talking to any mechanic at any shop, and didn't think to ask him to listen to the transmission, although I had left a typed detailed description of the noise, my work, and also left a new transmission rear seal I had bought a couple of months ago, in case he found that was the source of the noise.)

    He also had me get in the pickup on the lift and put the transmission in drive to hear the noise, and it was the same as I hear when driving, so I suppose that proves beyond a doubt that the noise isn't coming from the front wheels, but I'm not as certain about it coming from the differential and not the transmission.

    I'll take the truck in to another shop tomorrow for a "second opinion".
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    A proper differential rebuild is an exacting task which requires SKILL and EXPERIENCE. The amount of measurements, shimming and critical know-how required is rare to find in todays so-called mechanics. Especially since most of todays vehicles are FRONT wheel drive.

    Unless you find somone reliable to perform the differential rebuild, you may not be happy with the results. A shop that rebuilds differentials for racecars would have the skill.

    You may want to consider just having a complete rear-axle assembly installed from a salvage yard. The cost may be less than a differential rebuild. (and the warantee may be the same as a rebuild)

    Whatever you do, consider using RedLine lube in the differential in the future. The extra cost is well worth it considering it would have likely PREVENTED this failure in the first place.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Thanks for the comment, bpeebles.

    Went to a second mechanic and he agrees the problem is the differential.

    I rolled under the pickup this afternoon with one wheel off the ground, a jack stand holding it up. Then I marked the propeller shaft (drive shaft) with chalk and put a chalk mark on the raised tire and rotated the tire forward to get 10 revolutions of the shaft. I did the same on the other rear wheel.

    The result for both wheels is that 10 shaft revolutions make about 5 and 5/8 wheel revolutions, or about 1.78 shaft revolutions per wheel revolution. I think you're supposed to multiply this by 2 to get the gear ratio between the pinion gear and the ring gear, so I am guessing my ratio is about 3.56.

    I also took a photo of the differential from the cover end. There is a metal tag fastened under one of the cover bolts. I enlarged the photo and it looks to me as id the the tag has this lettering: "1|8.3" . Could this be 1 ring gear tooth per 8.3 pinion gear teeth? If I multiply by 2, this becomes 3.66.

    Am I figuring all this right?
  • I brought my 2003 4x4 CC. in for a front and rear diff fluid change to mr. Lube, they used mopar antislip additive and it was quiet for a couple days it actually sounded better, now its really noisy, sounds like the howl of an old army jeep. the cantire mechanic says its prolly the bearings and will be 600 to fix.how can this happen overnight, a friend suggested throwing in jacobs to quiet it down. Any ideas?
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    dodgeman, "I feel your pain." I am scouring the region's junk yards for 7.25 inch, 3.55 gear ratio rear axle assemblies for my '90 Dakota and not having much luck. I may have to remove the whole thing and put it on sawhorses in my freezing cold front porch and see if I can repair whatever is wrong inside the differential box. May have to rent one of those salamander butane heaters to keep from turning into a block of ice (I'm in North Dakota).
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I removed the cover of my 1990 Dakota's rear differential (it's a 2-wheel drive) and counted 39 teeth on the ring gear and 11 on the pinion gear. Stamped on the ring gear is this: 2852943 - 3.55, also 10 25 89.

    I'm guessing the 10 25 89 is the date of manufacture, October 25, 1989.

    I've measured the gear ratio by turning the tire and the drive shaft and got 3.56, which is close-enough for me to 3.55, so I think the "- 3.55" means the gear ratio.

    Maybe the 2852943 is the Chrysler part number. Can someone check this?

    I took a string and used it to measure the circumference of the ring gear at its widest and got about 26 inches. If you divide 26 by 3.14 (pi), you get 8.28 inches for the gear diameter, which is closer to published numbers for Dodge's 8.25 inch gear than to Dodge's 7.25 inch gear.

    But before this, I was told by a local used parts emporium desk jockey that the cover for the 8.25 inch differential is hexagonal while the 7.25 inch cover is rounded. My cover is rounded (actually elliptical), so he told me I had a 7.25 inch gear.

    On the Internet I read that "Ring gear diameter can be identified by observing the housing tube diameter. The 7-1/4 inch axle has housing tubes which are 2.5 inch (63.5 mm) diameter at the inner ends and 3.00 inch (76.2 mm) at the outer ends; the 8-1/4 inch axle has housing tubes that are 3.0 inch (76.2 mm) in diameter."

    My axle tubes are 3 inches O.D. for their whole length. Maybe this is another indication that I actually have a 8.25 inch differential.

    Am I doing the ring gear measurement wrong? Should I be measuring around the widest part of the gear, or somewhere else? Am I wrong in thinking I have the 8.25 inch ring differential, or is the parts man wrong?

    I'd sure be grateful for some help. I've never done any differential work, and this is the first time I've seen one opened-up.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I believe the 8-1/4 inch has 12-bolt cover and the 7-1/4 inch has 10-bolts.

    Most 2WD have the 7-1/4 while the 8-1/4 inch come thru installed on the 4WD Daks. Somtimes it seems that they installed whatever happened to be laying around the day the rear-axle was installed- LOL
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Thanks again, bpeebles.

    My elliptic-shaped differential cover has 10 bolt holes in it. Also found when I took off the cover that there is a second metal tag under one of the two bolts that I left on while draining the oil. It has what looks like 3.5 stamped on it. The other tag has 3.189 stamped on it. The pinion gear driving the ring gear has several numbers painted in white on its end face inside the case. 4 and 1 are two that I remember.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Take a look at this site with photos of Chrysler differential covers. Mine is exactly like the elliptical 8.25 inch cover with 10 holes.

    http://www.ringpinion.com/DiffList.aspx?SearchMode=Diff&TypeID=2&Type=Chrysler
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Well, I telephoned the local Dodge dealer and the parts representative said the number stamped on the gear, 2852943 - 3.55, was not a good one, but it probably indicates the ratio is 3.55. Using the last 8 numbers from the VIN, the rep was able to find that the ring gear is 8.25 inches. Now I can get on with ordering the carrier bearings and hope that I can get new ones installed and end the grinding.
  • i was out 4 wheeling when i heard a clunk or a clicking sound so i put back in 2 wheeld drive . no noises but when back in 4 hi or low noise from right front axle any ideas thanks
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I'm going to replace the differential carrier bearings in my 1990 Dodge Dakota rear wheel drive and have read that Dodge says to use their tool C-4164 (costs about $60) to spin the adjuster used to tighten and loosen the load on the bearings.

    There is an interesting discussion about using a torsion bar from a 1970s era Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth vehicle as a substitute for the special tool. Several posts in the discussion say the bar works perfectly, but the discussion ends with the man who asked the original question having his truck up on stands, the axles removed and a friend taking time off work to help only to find the torsion bar didn't fit!
    http://www.dodgedakotas.com/boards/gen/19427.html

    I'm thinking of haunting the local junkyards to see if I can find one of those torsion bars to do my job, but am I heading for the same problem as the poster on that discussion? I'll be doing this job lying on my driveway outside in a North Dakota winter, and would probably have to lie in the snow in the junkyard to remove a torsion rod, so I don't want to waste a lot of effort, and would really be grateful for any input.
  • KCRamKCRam Mt. Arlington NJPosts: 3,516
    Check the Dodge Dakota 4x4 Issues discussion for better ideas, but it sounds like you may have popped an axle shaft joint.

    kcram - Pickups Host
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