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Dodge Dakota Performance and Towing Mods

2

Comments

  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Ok this will be my last meassage on this board.
    ow own a 2006 GMC 2500HD Duramax CCSB SLE.

    Now that is a towing machine, and I can tell ya it blows the Dak outa the water.

    As for the question...I would probably not tow anymore than 3000 lbs with a 4.7 Dak. Yea I know they say with the 4.7 that you can go as high as 7000. sure and I can walk on water. 7000 lbs is a possilibity but only if you don't mind putting your motor and tranny to the absolute limits. Be smart and cut what the "stealer" says in half..then you'll be fine.

    The 4500 lbs trailer I pulled last year with my Dak gave it all it could handle and it was slow slogging up hills...BIG TIME like 30 mph max. that was with 4 people in the truck at the time: 2 Adults and 2 teens.

    For a V6 you should be probably OK..again tranny cooler and whatever you can do to add some torque will help.

    I pulled a tent trailer at 2400 lbs with a 3.4 V6 Montana and it went fine....better than my 4.7 DAk on the hills with 4500 behind it.

    rgds,

    Stk
  • Very helpfull response. Thanks allot
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    For 2000 lbs, the V-6 should be adequate. Just don't expect to be running down the road at 75 MPH. If you friend does go for the V-6 (3.7L I assume), encourage him to get the 3.92 gears, if at all possible.

    Another concern is brakes. Does the boat trailer have any? An extra 2000 lbs is probably more than the Dakota's brakes can handle safely.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Steak,

    I'm sorry for the late response.

    I would hope that a 2500 Duramax Diesel would make the 4.7 Dakota seem over worked. You're not comparing apples to apples.

    I've never towed 4500 lbs. with my 2003 4.7, but it handles 3100 lbs. with relative ease, and that's with the 3.55 axle ratio and oversize tires. Maybe its me, but when I'm towing I'm not in any race nor impatient with my progress.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,083
    Also, towing a lot of weight depandant of the WEIGHT of the tow-vehicle... not its power. For safetys sake, the tow-vehicle should weigh consideribly more than the item being towed.

    A huge engine in a small truck DOES NOT mean it is now capable of safely towing loads which weigh more than the truck itself.

    Spend some time towing a bulldozer on a tripple-axle trailer and you will appreceate using a HEAVY tow-vhicle to perform the task.

    Perhaps even more important with towing is the BRAKES.... and we all know that the brakes on the Dakota are pretty whimpey.

    Does your trailer have its own brakes?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Bruce,

    The trailer I towed did have electric brakes but were not hooked up. I found the brakes on my Dak to be adequate at normal speeds and going down hills for the roughly 3100 lbs. I currently have factory pads and the rotors were replaced about 28,000 ago. The rears are still original.

    Bests,
    Dusty
  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Well I would agree that apples to Melons is not a good comparison. However the 2005 Dak 4.7L was rated at 6800 lbs towing capacity. Now my trailer at 22' and loaded for a trip was 4430 lbs (scaled). That truck should have had no issues pulling. The fact of the matter was it did. A higher gearing might have helped significantly but that was not to be in my case. IMOP that truck was not capable for anything greater than the ~3000 lbs you mention. Typical of Manufacturers to grossly overstate their vehicles abilities in mpg as well as towing. I'm told that I can safely pull 12,500 lbs with the D,max...would I though..?? not likely ever. Too much for even that vehicle. Oh it'll do it...just keep pouring the fuel to it and a guy will likely end up with a molten turbo and blown motor.

    not for me thank ya very much.

    As for brakes, yea, Dak brakes suck period. the rears might as well not even be there. If you are going to pull, make sure you use your tranny & downshift, pulse your brakes, and ensure your trailer brakes are in excellent order and a guy will do fine. I had no torouble in BC on two long trips over some major hill and dale..!!

    cheers,

    Stk
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,083
    I agree with most of what you say but would like to comment on your statement: Typical of Manufacturers to grossly overstate their vehicles abilities in mpg as well as towing.

    My 4.7L Dak is rated at 18 MPG highway and I get over 20MPG. My Volkswagen Jetta is rated at 49MPG and I get up to 56MPG on the highway.

    My point is that the MPG ratings are highly depandant on DRIVING HABITS. It is easy to get better than the window-stickers if one drives with econemy in mind.

    BTW: In reference to my VW Jetta - I do not beleive there is any other vehicle on the US market that can get over 700 miles per tank of fuel on the highway. Those silly hybrids are a gimmick. Test after test has shown that the VW TDI can go a LOT farther on a tank of fuel than any hybred.

    I predict as the cost of fuel goes up, Americans will start to do what Europe did many years ago... and start driving Diesel cars. Modern diesel engines run cleaner than gasoline engines AND still get the 30% better economy that diesels always have deliverd.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Do you know what axle ratio your Dak had?

    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Yeah, I'm with Bruce on this. Despite the often repeated myth that the 4.7 is "terrible" on gas, I've gotten:

    *over 17 MPG on 133 tanks of gas out of 293

    *over 18 MPG on 78 tanks out of 293.

    *over 19 MPG on 17 tanks out of 293

    *over 20 MPG on 7 tanks out of 293

    *over 21 MPG on 4 tanks out of 293

    *over 22 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    *over 23 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    *over 24 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    There is (was) thought of a Dakota diesel for the 2008, and the 4.7 gets full hemispherical heads and a sixty HP increase next year.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Dusty,

    That's an interesting distribution on your gas mileage. Very one sided. Come to think about it, mine's probably similar, just about 4-5 MPG less. But, my QC is a 4x4 with 3.92 gears.

    The one thing I've noticed with the newer Dakotas is the mileage ratings are much higher than mine. My 02, 4.7, auto, 4x4 was rated at 13/18. An 07, 4.7, auto, 4x4 I recently saw was rated at 15/20. I know the newer Daks have a 5 sp automatic, versus my 4 sp. But when that was introduced, the highway mileage only went up by 1 MPG. I wonder what else they changed to get the better mileage?
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I recently read where the SAE is coming up with a set of standardized test to determine tow ratings. This will hopefully level the "tow ratings" playing field.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Most people here seem to agree with DC: tow with overdrive off in hilly conditions. Some people have warned about overheating the torque converter if you tow in overdrive.

    But what about the lockup system? If I run at ~70mph, I'm spinning about 2500rpm (2002 Quad Cab, 4.7L, 3.92 rear end). Give it a little gas, it spins up to about 3100rpm, I assume this is the torque converter unlocking?? Give it more gas, it shifts into 3rd (3500rpm to maintain about 70mph).

    So is the danger of towing in overdrive that it unlocks and locks too much? If it stays locked is it bad to tow in overdrive? Thanks for any input.

    -Eric
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Yes, the locking and unlocking of the torque converter is one cause of transmission overheating. But, you have to be careful when towing in OD. I used to do it when towing a 2500 lb pop-up camper. I did have any problems, except when my speed dropped under 50 MPH.

    Now that I've moved up to a 4500 lb travel trailer, towing in OD is out of the question. The reason is the load is great enough, the transmission won't shift into OD, except when going down hill. When the OD is on, the torque converter will not lock up in 3rd gear, hence a lot of heat is generated due to the torque converter slippage. When the OD is off, the torque converter will lock up in both 2nd and 3rd gears.

    It just depends on how much you are towing.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Thanks for the reply. I'm towing 4200lbs. Overall the 4.7L, 3.92 rear does fine, and in overdrive it will shift into 4th and even drop down to 2500 rpm at 70mph in many situations (even a slight upward grade). Is this hard on the torque converter or tranny? Obviously I'm not totally versed on torque converter lockup and what the issues are.

    The manual says "overdrive off in hilly conditions." But the definition of hilly depends on whether you live in Kansas or Colorado. So (in marginal situations) is there a transmission behavior to look for to indicate when to turn overdrive off?
    -Eric
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Considering that the later model 545RFE transmissions (the 5 speed version of the 4-speed 45RFE. The two transmissions are mechanically identical) just have a "tow/haul" mode, you can't lock out the OD, so it would seem to be okay to tow in OD as long the transmission isn't shifting excessively or the torque converter is unlocking and locking excessively. Manufacturers tend to be either vague or very restrictive (i.e. "don't") when it comes to towing in OD.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,083
    When I purchased my Dak, I orderd the manual xmission from the factory. I never have any issues with the torque converter - LOL

    Besides, ordering direct from the factory is CHEAPER than purchasing off the dealers lot and I got the options I wanted. This is because the dealer has a GUARANTEED sell when you order from the factory. The dealer's purchaser purposefully orders cars for the lot which have options with the highest markup. This be because they still have to SELL the vehicle. (And brush the snow off of it all winter!)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Sunburn,

    The first one or two years of the 4.7 in a Dakota they used a 47 or 48mm throttlebody. In 2002 or 2003 that was increased to a 50mm.

    The camshafts are different for each year up to 2003. The 2003/2004 camshaft duration was changed to 243.5 degrees intake, 253.7 exhaust. I think that fuel delivery and timing algorithm changes permitted a decrease to valve overlap (17 degrees) for an increase in low end torque and improved idle. Likewise since '04 they've changed camshaft profile and fuel delivery some more.

    The mere fact that the 545RFE transmission has five normal forward gear ratios and considerably less parasitic losses than the previous "RE" series transmissions could explain part of that 1 MPG difference. Top gear ratio for the 46RE is .69, and .67 for the 545RFE. Pretty close but a slight advantage for Dodge's newer automatic. The intermediate second gear on the 545RFE might actually contribute more to better gas mileage.

    Starting in 2007, Chrysler is phasing in Variable Line Pressure (VLP) to its automatic transmissions. This will significantly reduce parasitic losses. In think the RFE will get VLP in 2008.

    On my son's last leave I rented him an '05 Dakota Quad Cab, 4x4. It had the same axle ratio as yours. He was able to average 16.6 for the two weeks he had it in very mixed driving.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    The 45RFE and 545RFE are nearly identical with the exception of servo operation. They both have three planetary gear sets, but the 545RFE allows the use of six forward speeds. On Jeeps at least, I'm under the belief that the 45RFE Transmission Control Module (TCM) can be reflashed to make it operate like a 545RFE.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • Looking at adding a chip, air intake and upgrade exhaust all to gain more towing muscle.

    Is the result worth it and what are the most reliable products?
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