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Dodge Dakota Problems. Please help!



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Glad to hear that you didn't think I was bashing.

    Yes, Mopar67, I know exactly what you mean. A sour note might be music to somebody, but its still a sour note. I had a very repugnant dislike for my wife's Plymouth Acclaim and have been frustrated with Chrysler over that. The shame of it all was that it was a terrific car to drive, had the best interior of any car either she or I have ever owned, and got high 30s for gas mileage. A few times even over 40 mpg. Mechanically is was probably better than average and didn't cost us serious money until 122,000 miles (left outer transaxle bearing failed). But this thing had more buzzes and rattles than a B-24 with 35 combat missions. The dealer was disinterested. The Chrysler rep. seemed to be, but as soon as the pressure was off the dealer just started to jerk us around. By the way, I can't stand a buzzy, rattley, noisy car!!!!

    Now our 1999 Avalon, a $31,000 car by the way, is actually worse with rattles!!! Yep. You read this right. It has kind of put things in perspective for me. It also has the worst transmission I've ever owned. Rides nice and has plenty of power. I should've bought the Maxima, but the Avalon had more room in back.

    Anyway, very sorry you had a poor experience with your Dakota. Hopefully your current vehicle will treat you better....and so will mine!!

    Best regards,


    P.S. Liked your comment about the old Chrysler 727s. I agree, they were the most bullet-proof transmission EVER built.
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    AN Avalon with would have thunk that.

    SoOrry about your Acclaim. I know EXACTLY how you feel. THe treatement you get from the dealer and/or factory can make or break your experience.

    FWIW.....the Dodge Spirit I had was one of CHrysler's best cars I ever drove. Rock solid, easy to work on, and it simply did not break.

    As before, I sure do hope your dakota performs well for you and last a long long time!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yes, I know. I never ran into anyone else that owned one that was displeased. And in many respects it was a saignificantly more capable car than the then current competition from GM and Ford. We never did have a lick of problems with the engine, despite the head gasket problems Chrysler was having with them at the time. Did replace two rack and pinion steering assemblies, and was always having caliper trouble.

  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    I did have the rack and PS pump replaced under warranty on that thing at about 39K. Otherwise, it was indeed a solid, if unspectacular car. Thing I miss most was the easy maintenance. And the bulletproof A413 trans.
    The 2.5 really was a good motor, made even better with the balance shafts. The FI was throttle body but it worked flawlessly. I never even had to replace a I said, I totally forgot about the rack until you mentioned yours.
    I guess it was so trouble free, I had to pause a minute there to remember that!
  • ford_biiford_bii Posts: 120
    Ok, I took my truck to the dealer this morning to have the loud whirring noise in the AC investigated. I got a phone call around noon - no big suprise "all ok, sounds normal".

    Here is my question: how does the engine sound in each of your vehicles when you have the AC turned on vs when it isn't? What I do to showcase the problem is rev the engine in neutral to about 3000, then I let it come back down, click on the AC, and rev it to 3000 again, and there is a loud whirring noise that I never remember being there before. When driving with the AC on, the idle seems to "hang" a little longer during shifts then when it does without the AC on.

    So, to summarize, is there any NOTICIBLE extra noise in your trucks when you repeat the above process?

    2001 QC 4.7L 5-speed.
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Chris, my engine also is a bit noisier when the A/C is on. I believe that one reason is that the cooling fan is engaged with air on versus only operating under certain heat conditions when A/C is not being utilized. The reason that the engine does not drop RPM as quickly, is because when the A/C clutch is engaged it keeps RPM raised so that the engine won't stall. I think that is normal. It would do the same with an automatic transmission if you placed it in neutral between gear shifts.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I have a new 2003 Dakota Club Cab Sport Plus, 4.7 engine and automatic. I've only had the air conditioning on once so far and I did not notice any noise. I'll check it again tomorrow.

  • bcarter3bcarter3 Posts: 145
    Here in South Florida my air is always on and I have the additional noise that you describe. I believe that it is the electric cooling fan. It is always on with the A/C on and rarely, if ever, on with A/C off. Try turning the A/C off while idling. You will notice the engine sound gets much quieter.

  • ford_biiford_bii Posts: 120
    Definitely not the electric cooling fan.

    I told the service manager to talk to the guy I demoed the problem to, and after another inspection, they think it may be a bad AC compressor. He's got one on order now.

    Seems Dakota's don't have very good AC systems.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Okay. It was 32 degreees here in Rochester, New York this morning. I started the engine and switched on the A/C. About 7-8 seconds after I switched it on I heard a faint "whirring" sound from what I thought was the engine compartment. I switched off the A/C and the noise continued! It stopped on its own after about 12-15 seconds.

    I repeated this several times during the day and could not reproduce the noise.

  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Dusty, don't stay in Rochester all winter. Go someplace that's exciting and warm. Try tropical Batavia.

  • glzr2glzr2 Posts: 70
    It wasn't as cold in ann arbor this morning as it was in Rochester yesterday, but I still had the heat cranked during the drive to work. I noticed a whistling noise coming from the vents when I set the fan between medium and high. It was annoying, so I just set the fan on the second notch. Is this typical? It persisted despite the temperature or direction setting.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Bookitty, did they sell Batavia and move it below the Mason-Dixson line? Golly, if they did maybe we can get a good price for Webster, New York!

    GLZR2, I think I've had my heater controls in pretty much every position now and have not noticed any whistling from the vents.

    A couple of more gripes: Small ones, but I'd sure appreciate stays or loops like Nissan and Toyota use to keep the floor mats from moving around.

    I'm not fond of the headlamp beam switch being actuated by double-pulling on the directional lamp stalk, either. I like the Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, etc., method better.

    A couple of nice things: This is the first vehicle I've been in (most certainly the first I've owned) that the window switches are illuminated for nighttime use. Kudos to Chrysler!!

    I did notice that unlike cars & trucks built by the Chrysler, Ford, and GM of years past, this Dakota gets heat very, very quickly. Just about as quickly as our Sentra and Avalon.

    Oh, yes. I drove a new RAM Quad cab the other day. No, it did not hop, in fact this is the fourth 2002-3 RAM I've driven and I still feel they are the best handling full-size pick-up on the market. Anyway, I noticed that the rear windows went all the way down into the door. No 4-6 inches of glass sticking up! Why they all don't do that is a mystery.

    Do the Dakota Quads do that as well?

  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Dusty, the Quad rear door windows do go down into the door with no residual glass lip exposed. I always hated windows that would not bury completely into the door. My wife's 4-Runner does that as well. It is one of the things that most people complained of and it seems that the manufacturers are listening. Anyhow Dusty, in Western NY you can only open the windows during the summer (August 7th).

  • I own a 2001 QC 3.9L 2WD 4-sp auto (42RE) 3.92 axle ratio. While climbing a moderate 40% uphill grade with the cruise control ON going 80Kph/50Mph at 1200RPM, the engine starts to kick down to a lower gear as normal BUT, all of a sudden (VERY VERY sudden) the engine lurches/surges & revs to 4200-4300RPM for about 2-3 seconds before settling back down to 1200RPM. I believe the tranny kick down process should be a lot more gentle than what I have been experiencing. The dealer says, it's normal. I strongly believe there is something wrong here. Has anyone else experienced this situation with their 3.9L Dakotas? or 4.7L? Does anyone have any suggestions as to where/what to try next? Any assistance is muchly appreciated.
    Thanks, Bill.
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Bill, perhaps the transmission was "hunting." It downshifted, but did not access a low enough gear to satisfy the cruise control setting. It would be like shifting from fifth to fourth only to realize that what you really needed was third gear. Of course, with the manual, the cruise is cancelled when the clutch (or brake) is engaged. It may have to do with the combination of the grade, the speed, and the engine torque of the 3.9. I wouldn't worry about it unless you detected slipping.

  • Bookitty...thanks again for your help!

    Your analysis makes a lot of sense. Fortunately, I don't detect any slippage as yet. This surge is VERY VERY sudden; hence I'm going to assume the tranny must be kicking down at least 2 or 3 gears hunting for an appropriate ratio. My plan is to ascend the same hill again at the same speed but, only this time with the cruise control turned OFF to compare differences in the kick down process. Next, I plan to repeat the same test with the OverDrive(O/D) turned OFF and next test again with both features OFF and compare results.

    Perhaps, a general rule to follow may be to just...turn OFF the cruise control & turn OFF the O/D whenever climbing a grade. Would you reccomend that?
    Thanks again.
  • haselhasel Posts: 64
    I had a 1999 Club Cab with the 3.9L Engine had the same problems, also you cannot run the Cruse Control in the Mountains, after I traded the truck the next owner who worked at the dealership had the PCM flashed to correct the problem.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    There have been a number of posts regarding the problem of premature wear or failure of the Dakota front brake rotors. While I been reluctant to comment on this subject in the past, my recent purchase of a 2003 Dakota has me interested.

    While I do not doubt that earlier Dakota models could have had better quality rotor material, there was one previous poster who tried to make the point that this problem was not necessarily unique to Dakotas. Indeed, our '99 Toyota Avalon is one of those that has had unsatisfactory service from front brake rotors. I know three Tundra owners who have had rotors replaced in less that 20,000 miles, and a number of other people with a vast array of different makes and models.

    In reading another board [bsmoodha "Dealership trouble!" Aug 4, 2002 6:23pm] I ran across what I believe to be a practicing service technicians comment:

    "......The problem with front brake rotor wear is industry wide. There is a "Quality" issue with the offshore manufactured products used in most US built motor vehicles that use off shore manufactured brake rotors. Ask your dealer Service Manager if it would be possible to share the repair records his shop has with the FMVSS inspectors. If not, call your state Bureau of Automotive Repair Board and file a formal complaint."

    Interesting, at one of our local brake & muffler shops I overheard the service manager tell a Chevrolet Suburban owner the same thing. I asked how much of a problem this was, and he replied that it is "almost universal." Oddly, when I asked about the Dakota specifically, he said that a number of other truck models were worse. He did say that '94 -'99 Grand Cherokee's were probably THE worst.

  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Bill, I may not be the right guy to ask, as we have three vehicles, but none with automatic transmission. However, it is recommended that towing should not be done in O/D. This is somewhat the same, as @ 50 MPH ascending a grade, there is not much momentum (inertia) and the cruise control will "demand" the RPM to satisfy the speed setting. With an automatic transmission, that translates to shifting down so as to maintain the preset speed. If you get my drift. If you manually go from O/D to "drive", and if it continues to occur, then defeat (cancel) cruise until it catches up with itself.

This discussion has been closed.