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Dodge Dakota Suspension and Axles

1235

Comments

  • ESBYESBY Posts: 4
    I just came back from a test drive after replacing the front struts on my quad-cab
    4x4. What a difference! The old struts only had 24,000 miles on them, but it's obvious now that they were shot.
    The new struts have eliminated the floaty feeling I've hated since I bought the truck a few weeks ago.
    I used Monroe 'Sensatrac' struts, which were pricey, but worth it.
    If you've got access to a spring compressor; the job isn't too difficult, either.

    Steve
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    The 2006 dakota has STRUTS???? are you CERTAIN they are struts? (A "strut" also holds the wheel in alignment and controls camber.)

    BTW: The very best shock absorbers for the Dakota are still the Edelbrock IAS (Inertia Active System). They are true MONOTUBE shock absorbers which are far superiour to the dual-tube desgn that the el-cheepos use.

    I put Edelbrock IAS on my Dak within the 1st year of purchasing brand-new and have never regretted it. Not only does it RIDE better and not jump sideways over expansion-jounts... when I hit the brakes, my truck does not do a nose-dive. (Becasue IAS knows it is not a bump in the road and stiffens up the front shocks under braking)
  • ESBYESBY Posts: 4
    'Strut' simply means the shock absorber and vehicle spring are built as one unit. Some struts DO play a part in camber and alignment, but not all. 2005 and newer Dakotas employ strut suspension for the front wheels.
    I've only found two manufacturers of struts for these Dakotas: Monroe and Rancho.
    The Rancos are said to 'stiffin' the ride considerably. I'm not an off-roader, so the Monroes were my preference.
    I just hope they last longer than the originals did. (24,000 miles).

    Steve
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    Thanks for the info ESBY - I was not awre that Dodge went with struts on the newer Daks.

    It is my experience that when there are not many aftermarket parts available... there may be a design flaw which the aftermarket folks do not want any part of.

    For example, on my 2000 Dak, the balljoints were known to snap off. The very best balljoint manufacturer (Moog) did not list any replacement balljoints for many years... why? because the design put too much stress on the balljoints and they knew if they sold a replacemet, it would also snap.

    Another example: My ol 1981 AMC Eagle would eat front shock-absorbers no matter what I installed... I ended up paying Midas to install "lifetime warantee" shocks....Midas ended up replacing those shocks at least 3 times for free. (I got my moneys-worth out of that)

    Good luck with your new shocks... I hope they last the life of your Dak.
  • ESBYESBY Posts: 4
    I'd rather not have struts on the front of a truck. They're not as robust as larger springs and separate shocks would be. I suspect the struts are worn at 24,000 miles because they're trying to support too much weight for the design.
    If they wear out prematurely; I may look for a shop with 'lifetime' shocks, too.
    On the plus side; the '06 Dakota rides almost as smooth as a car.

    Steve
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    The new Dakotas use an assembled spring-over-shock combination. It looks like a strut in that it is removed from the suspension as one unit. It utilizes a very large diameter shock piston. There are upper and lower control arms and the "strut" does not turn like a MacPherson. I think someone told me the spring and shock are serviced separately, but I'll check on that.

    I think the conclusion that they are not going to be durable is premature.

    Anyway, I have never had to replace a strut on any of my cars (Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai) and my girlfriends Concode LXI is still sporting the originals at 165,000.

    Only time will tell.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • ESBYESBY Posts: 4
    I'm not sure what you mean by "serviced separately". The spring must be compressed to removed the shock, after the strut is removed from the vehicle.
    Based on several posts I've read regarding the life expectancy of the original shock on the front ends of these trucks; it appears the factory strut is not durable. I'm hoping the Monroe cartridge I've installed will last longer than 24,000 miles, as did the originals.

    Steve
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    I asked the parts manager at my Dodge dealer and he said they haven't used a one. If they all failed within 24,000 miles they'd be replaced under warranty.

    Dusty
  • mrt5mrt5 Posts: 1
    have got laugh about tires have dak sport 2000 extend cab wranglers 31 10.50 just changed them 9 months ago they still had tread not much 230000k best tires ever had just put monros sensitracks on not bad but the ariginals were the best ride same 230000k also true lost lower balljoint tire came off havent been able to get alighnment right have any specs on that would be help
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    I can give you spec's for 2003, but I think the 2000 Dakota may have been different:

    130.9 inch wheel base (All except RT) 2wd

    Caster = 3.13 degrees
    Camber = -0.00
    Toe = 0.10 degrees

    130.9 inch wheel base (All except RT) 4wd

    Caster = 3.16 degrees
    Camber = -0.00
    Toe = 0.10 degrees

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • shopdog97shopdog97 Posts: 142
    I have a 98' Dakota 4X4 with a V-6. I have to say it has been pretty reliable over the years. It's heading towards 99K(not bad for 11 years) Now it get fairly lousy mileage even with a V-6, and even if I tune up it won't be that much better. The ride is not very good, I replaced the stock shocks with monroes, and its OK, but not great. I had both upper and lower ball joints go bad, so they are about 4+ years now. One thing that happened last June or July is a shackle let loose and nearly put the leaf spring through the bed. I've never had that happen on any truck I had in the past and I'll blame living here in the Rust Belt and myself for not crawling underneath and doing an inspection more often so I would have seen in coming. So they're new now and all is fairly decent. I see the new body style Dakotas 05's and up and wonder if people really like them. My friends have asked if I would by another Dodge and really don't know what I'd do if I could buy something else. It never left me sitting(except when the battery died) and the most major repair I had to do was when a freeze-out plug let loose at the back of the engine. Had to yank the tranny out to change a $2 plug!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    It took me a while to get use to the 2005-2008s, the front end being the part I didn't like very well. The rest of the design I thought was great. Now the style appeals to me, especially since the 2009s have a very blunt look. After 2004, the Dakota got some nice improvements to ride and handling and a stiffer frame. The front suspension is quite a bit different. I'm not particularly fond of the '05-08 interiors, especially since I love my '03 interior and dash design. My son had a rented one for a week and he loved it. I had to say it was a very pleasant truck to drive.

    A bad freeze plug is highly unusual problem on a 3.9. I haven't heard of a rusted out shackle before now, either. Unfortunately ball joints replacements were common for Dakotas of that vintage, and even up through 2003. They had a recall on the uppers.

    I've heard a number of Dakota owners ay they wouldn't buy another, but I've heard more say they would. What most don't consider is the fact that a Dakota is a far heavier and more capable truck than a Ranger, S10, Canyon, Tacoma or a Frontier. My '03 Sport the way it is equiped is rated just a few hundred pounds less for towing than many full size trucks. And you know, after ten years or so I hear owners of competitive makes recounting their repairs, too. I think Frontier owners replace various engine sensors and brakes on a routine basis, Ranger folks seem to have the full gamut of issues as Dakota owners, I know of two Tacomas that the frames rusted through rendering the trucks unsafe to drive, and Canyons...well, I just won't go there!

    Unless my requirements for hauling and towing change, I'd buy another Dakota without reservation. If I didn't need as much truck as a Dakota, I'd probably look at a Ranger or a Frontier. Since our last Toyota was not a stellar vehicle, I think I'd pass on a Tacoma.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • kegler12kegler12 Posts: 5
    Just purchased a '95 dakota with 137,000 mi and there is play in the steering. Feels like it is kinda floating but hard to describe. Mechanic checked the suspension parts and they all seem tight, so he tightened the steering box but this just made turning the wheel tighter but didn't correct the floating feel so it actually made it worse as far as correction steering so I had him back it off. Any ideas what would cause this? He thinks maybe a front end alignment might help but truck alignment as far as tire wear and lack of drifting on road seems ok.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Sounds like you might have a sticky boost valve in the steering rack.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    The 1995 Dak does not have rack-n-pinion steering... that was first deployed in the 2000 Dakota.

    However, it would be best to troubleshoot and isolate what the problem is..... losing your steeing is NOT somthing you want to happen.

    Lift BOTH front wheels off the ground and use your hands to try and 'wiggle' each wheel in all directions. Check all steering-linkages, tie-rod-ends and other steering components. Any play HAS to be isolated and fixed.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    Actually, to be specific, two-wheel drive Dakotas had rack-and-pinion steering back to '91 at least. But, yes, the four-wheel drive version had a gear box.

    He didn't state in his mail note, but I've seen this problem before. I'm betting he's got a two-wheel drive.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,080
    Good catch Dusty... you always keep me honest.

    Here in Vermont... a 2-wheel drive truck is nearly unheard of so I assume all trucks are 4X4.
  • hoff829hoff829 Posts: 2
    So my dodge is a 2001 with 129,000 miles on it. I replaced the rear in it last year. Was brand new and now the whinning has started again. I replaced the fluid in it about 1,000 miles ago and yet the whinning wont go away. Someone said its the tires I have on it but I really dont think its possible. This thing has caused more headaches than anything. When i place in reverse it acts like its going to die/turn off. If im on long trips and come to a stop after going 65-70m MPH it acts like its going to go while I have the brake applied. Also I had a problem with my head lights several times. One will light up by its self while truck is off after long amounts of rain. Am I the only one that has issues??? I take great car of my truck. Its a 4x4 v8 4.7 liter. Just incase anyone was wondering. Please help I dont have the money to replace the rear again.
  • kegler12kegler12 Posts: 5
    Sorry I forgot to state that my '95 Dakota is 4 wheel drive. The mechanic did check for looseness in suspension joints and found them to be in good shape. I had my wife turn the steering while I watched under the hood and there seems to be play in the steering box. Could it be the gears are worn inside? I know nothing about the inner parts of these.
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