Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Dodge Dakota Suspension and Axles



  • docgreendocgreen Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 4x4 QC and it came with a 7 year 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and they replaced both my front and rear diff. at the charge. If yours is not in the same boat, beware. If you only replace the bearings, it will quiet down for a good month or so until those wear out too. So get the entire thing fixed right once at a reputable 4x4 shop.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I finally got everything together, including the weather, to allow me to remove the differential carrier from the Dakota and on inspection found the carrier bearings and races are in very rough shape. I was relieved to find that, and am hoping the pinion gear bearings are OK. Also found the ring gear of the differential is indeed 8.25 inches diameter.

    I'll bring the carrier to a local machine shop to have its bearings pulled and new bearings pressed-onto the carrier.

    I got an old Chrysler motors torsion bar from a local junk yard for $2 and found it measures very close to 1-1/2 inches across the flats of the hex end. However the hex end is too big to fit the differential bearing adjusters (as found by the man at The hole in the adjusters is very close to 1-29/64 inches across the flats. I still don't want to buy the Dodge part and am thinking of having the same machine shop skim some metal off the six flats of the torsion bar so it will fit the adjusters. It all depends on how much they would charge and whether they can machine that kind of metal.
  • dodge96dodge96 Posts: 3
    My front differential just started making a noise like a flat tire flopping on the road. I took the cover off and everything looked fine. When I had it up on jack stands I turned the front tires and could hear a lesser version of the noise but still could not pinpoint the problem.
  • dodge96dodge96 Posts: 3
    My front differential just started making a noise like a flat tire flopping on the road. I took the cover off and everything looked fine. When I had it up on jack stands I turned the front tires and could hear a lesser version of the noise but still could not pinpoint the problem.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    dodge96, hope you find your problem. If you check post #61 in this thread, there is a link to Dodge Dakota 4x4 Issues. I looked there and the last two posts talk about noise that might be caused by a CV joint connecting to the front differential. I've had some pretty bad noise from an inner CV joint on another car, and found that one of the ball bearings inside had come loose and when I put the car in reverse, it sometimes sounded like someone was hitting underneath the car with a sledge hammer. Going forward, it was fine. After about 5 years (!), I replaced the joint.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I got a vise-grip-attaching dial indicator from Harbor Freight (took 5 weeks to deliver!), rented a slide-hammer type axle bearing puller from Checker Auto Parts for $5 a day, bought 3 quarts of Royal Purple lubricant, bought new differential carrier bearings/races, had the old ones pulled and new ones pressed-on at a local machine shop, got new axle oil seals and went after the job of reinstalling the differential's internals. I didn't do a thing to the hypoid-cut pinion gear that sticks into the differential's box on the end of the drive shaft, and hope my only problem was the carrier bearings.

    It really didn't take too long to establish the amount of backlash (free movement) between the pinion gear and the big ring gear. Before removing the differential carrier, I just stuck the dial indicator against a ring gear tooth and worked the ring gear back and forth by hand (the axles had been pulled from their tubes) until it looked as though I had found what seemed like the average backlash all around the ring gear. I suppose I checked four different ring gear positions.

    Then I loosened the carrier bearing cap bolts and eased the heavy carrier out and inspected what I could see. It all looked good except for the carrier bearings, which were badly pitted both on the rollers and the race surfaces.

    I installed the whole business, following carefully the procedure found in

    It was a little difficult getting the little pinion gears of the "spider" into the right positions to mesh with the side gears and then slip the pinion gear shaft back in. The pinion gears kept falling out and I had to reinstall them and sometimes search for a cup washer that would drop into recesses in the case. Eventually I got them in, slipped their shaft in, and soon had it all in and looking correct.

    I continued on, checking the ring and pinion gear backlash then going from side to side of the pickup, using the big torsion bar to reach down the axle tubes and tighten or loosen the carrier bearing adjusters until it seemed to me from the dial indicator readings that I had a suitable backlash, then I tightened the carrier bearing caps and using a borrowed plumber's pipe wrench on the end of the torsion bar, put a guessed 70 ft-lbs of torque on the adjuster on both carrier bearings.

    My only mishap was to read 90 in-lbs as 90 lb-lbs for the torque to put on the bolt securing the adjuster lock. (It seems those small bolts actually don't need as much torque after all!) I sheared a bolt and had to go to NAPA to get a replacement. The salesman there recommended I buy a set of left-handed drill bits to back the sheared bolt out. It worked! I never knew there was such a thing as a left-handed drill bit before that day.

    Putting the axles in was an simple job, and the "C" lock rings on the end of the axles go in easily, although they liked to fall out of their slot into the gears and dark places in the case if I was not careful. Amazing that those little rings are the only things preventing the rear axle from pulling out of the differential.

    I used Royal Purple "Max-Gear" 75-90W lubricant because the race performance shop had only that and Shaeffer oils in stock. Maybe I should have gone by often-repeated recommendations on this board and got Red Line. As it was, the Royal Purple cost $14 a quart! Well, it's in there.

    There is an interesting study done by Amsoil comparing all the differential lubes that makes it look as though Royal Purple wasn't the best choice. The study is available to read on-line through

    I cleaned up the cover and differential case and put sealant (butyl rubber calk-hope it works out) and bolted it back on. So far, no trace of an oil leak there or at the axles.

    The hardest part of the whole job was putting the rear brakes back on. All the springs and adjusters and tangs and slots that have to fit just-right made it a real time-consumer for me.

    With that finally done, I soon had the tires back on and the pickup off the jack stands. Generally I get so excited at the end of a big job that I rush the "tires on the ground" step. In the past, I have forgotten about a bottle of welding gas behind a car and knocked it over, and on another occasion forgot about axle stands and backed off them and put a big dent in a fuel tank. This time I actually looked around the pickup and underneath for any potential dangers before getting behind the steering wheel and starting the engine.

    The rear end is quiet now, and the swishing/grinding noise is gone. However I notice a whining that comes and goes with load, and I think it might be the pinion gear-ring gear adjustment being a little loose. If the noise is too much I might eventually do something about like what was done on a Jaguar as detailed by a real do-it-yourselfer at
  • dodge96dodge96 Posts: 3
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, tjfitz! That sledge hammer noise is exactly what I heard, except it was when I was driving about 40. Scared the sh out of me the first time. When you say inner CV joint would that be inside the differential? I checked all the cv joints in the boots on the left and right front axle's and they looked fine. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    THAT IS GREAT NEWS! I applaud your efforts to get your diff repaired. I am duly impressed!

    Even though I have rebuilt engines and maintained mechanical things all my life - I do not think I would attempt what you have done.

    I suppose you were NOT laying on your back in a dirt driveway - LOL
  • Hi all;

    I have been busy but using my 01 QC 4x4, 4.7,auto. Just turned 100k miles. I had to replace front driver bearing @85k and just did passenger front at 99k. Now I notice the driver output side on the front differential is leaking. Sort of out of the seal where the axle shaft goes in. Anyone else have this. Could it be my axles need to be replaced. ( I do hear clunking noises from the front end when I go over slight bumps-but I live with it.) they do not seem to make noises when I turn -so I thought the cv's are ok. It's almost as if somthing is loose. Could it be play in my axles? anyone have any experiences with these problems?

    Thanks for any and all input.

  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    dodge96, I scribbled a reply last night but must have lost it somehow. My car had, on each axle, two CV joints: one inner, splined into the differential, the other at the outer end of the axle, splined into the wheel carrier.

    The noise I had came from one of the inner CV joints and was truly scary. I thought I was breaking the driveline into pieces. I took the inner CV joint apart, and one of the balls was slipping out of its race and back in. I popped the ball back in and closed-up the CV and hoped for the best, and kept driving for five years. I just couldn't see paying big-bucks for a new inner CV joint. It seemed the only rebuilt ones were the outer CV joints because they are generally the ones to wear-out and I suppose there is a bigger market for them.

    Somehow I went for five more years and then bought two reconditioned inner joints from a man in Ocala, Florida. He is an interesting character, a veteran of the U.S. Army airborne and now supplying CV joints for any car you can name (I think).

    I don't know if your scary noise and shock is from a CV joint but it could be. Sorry I can't be much more help, but best of luck to you!
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Now that I have been reading a flurry of appends about front/rear differential issues... I am SOOOO GLAD that I switched to RedLine lubricants when my Dak was just cutting its first tooth. (less than 20,000 miles)

    The true synthetic basestock (NOT like Mobil1) of RedLine has protected all my Dakota gearcases. (manual xmission, xFerCase, differentials...etc)

    I anticipate that my gearcases will never EVER have any measurable wear due to running RedLine lubes. (Over the useful life of my Dakota.)
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    bpeebles, I don't know what is happening with my replies on this forum. They don't seem to appear. Thanks for your kind words about my differential work, and I hope it holds-up. Seems OK so far. Maybe I'll go a few thousand miles and change my lubes to RedLine products.
  • briany4briany4 Posts: 1
    I have had my 2001 QC to the dealer three times to fix the rearend. I am now having to go back again. Original failure was Dec '04 @ 86k, everything but rear axle bearings were replaced. Pinion bearings then failed and were replaced under warranty Aug '05 @ 101k. It started grinding again in Feb '07 @ 125k. Although out of warranty, we agreed on a price to replace all bearings at one time, including the rear axle bearings. Now here we are, 14 months later at 150k, and the rear is again failing.I bought this truck new and I know it hasn't been abused. Is the dealer really that inept?, or am I missing something? Any help/suggestions on how to proceed with the dealer would be greatly appreciated.
  • rich14rich14 Posts: 15
    mine did the same thing and forun out that it was the driveshaft for the front axle, changed cvjoints and still had it till i took it to the garage and that is what it was
  • clintonbclintonb Posts: 2
    I'm following instructions in a Haynes manual for removing the front shocks on my '93 Dodge Dakota. They mention removing the top nut of the front shock. However, I can't seem to really fit a wrench in that area. Also the nut and bolt look pretty rusted and I'm sure its going to take some muscle to break it loose.

    So for those of you that have replaced your front shocks on a 2WD dakota, what tool did you use to remove that top nut? Did you use a socket wrench with a long extension? Did you use an impact wrench?

    I'm welcome to any other advice you may have for removing the front shocks.

  • I have a 2004 Dodge Dakota extended cab 4X4, V8. I purchased it new. To make a long story short I have had my Dakota to two different dealerships and both have found water in my rear differential. Both dealerships also claim it is a “maintenance issue”. I believe it is a design or manufacturing defect that should be covered under the power train warranty.

    I know when I have water in my rear differential by kind of a “groaning” sound coming from the rear end. One of the mechanics who has worked on my Dakota has told me the “groaning” sound comes from the rear differential clutch plates not being properly lubricated because of the water. It has only been 5K to 6K miles since my last fluid change and I am getting the same old “groaning” sound out of my rear end so I know I have water in it again. I only have about 35K miles on my Dakota.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience with their Dakota? I live in the NW so NOT driving in wet conditions is NOT an option. I do not believe I have ever completely submerged the rear differential in standing water but we have had some extremely wet driving conditions here in the NW the last couple of years. I have two years left on my power train warranty and I am concerned that once the warranty expires I will all of a sudden be told that I need my rear differential repaired or replaced.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Well, my friend here in Western New York State we have a fair amount of moisture and inclement weather too, but this is not something I remember hearing of unless the vehicle's axle was immersed.

    Moisture can and will accumulate in a differential assembly through the vent...over time. As the differential assembly heats up, internal air is expelled through the vent. As it cools down, outside ambient air is drawn back in. Over many heating and cooling cycles, moisture will build up in the fluid from outside air. Routine differential lubricant changes will ensure that the moisture content never gets to a high enough level to cause lubrication problems.

    If this is happening in 6,000 miles I would have to say there's some other dynamic at work here. I would check the position of the vent hose and ensure there it is correctly positioned, free of cracks, and no signs of poor hose connections that might permit water from entering at a low point.

    I guess it is possible that excessive moisture can build up if this vehicle is predominately driven in high moisture environments. For example, if the truck sees duty on more rainy days than dry days, then this might cause your situation. It would be unusual in my experience, but not impossible. But you'd have to eliminate all other possibilities before you could confidently declare driving conditions as a cause.

  • byrd2byrd2 Posts: 9
    The best thing I used is a Dremel, with a heavy duty fiber cut off disc. I've used the special shock tools, and the both broke. Shops usually burn 'em off with a torch. But I use my dremel just like a die grinder, and it's better to use the flexible extension. You'll cut the bolt/shaft right off, and away it goes. I'ver used my Dremel to cut a lot of rusted/stuck bolts off. It works great. Remember to use eye protection. The only thing is, if you will be trying to re-use the shock, then I'd soak it with some PB Blaster, or other means, use a bit of heat from a propane torch, then use a special front shock tool. K-D tools makes one as well as Lisle. O'
    Rielly's sells one.
  • hey guys...
    i have a 2000 dakota QC manul 6 cylinder. i replaced the battery recently. when i drive with my headlights on...the lights start flickering. (headlights, dashlights..pretty much all the lights) also i hear this clicking when the lights are flickering. when the car is off and just sitting there, i c in the headlight that there is a very dim light that is on. i have to 2 disconnect the battery so it wont drain my battery.

    plz help!
  • 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.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    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).

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    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.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    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.

  • 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.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    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.

  • 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: 2,926
    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

Sign In or Register to comment.