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Dodge Dakota Problems. Please help!



  • All I can say is drive it first and make sure it has enough power with the V6. I have an 02 Dakota and I almost got the V6. Glad I didn't. I have the 4.7 V8 and its just right. If I was to go with a V6 or less, it would be Nissan. Also ask how many times it has been in the shop and what for. Good Luck.
  • danodwdanodw Posts: 63
    On my AC problem they ordered and replace a part called an AC control, part # A24024161. This is located behind the dash. So they did have to take apart my dash. Now the AC gets colder than it ever has before. The snow flake now stays on on low fan like it should. Guess what? The fix lasted two days. The snow flake light still stays on and the ac still cools great but now my low fan and the fan speed above that does not work. The first two speeds has no air at all except, and get this, when driving the fan will sometimes kick on but always stops when the truck is not moving. The service dept. agrees but does not know what to do, nor does DC. No one has ever heard of this problem and neither have I, until now. The switches checked out ok. After spending all day at the service dept. I was told they need to contact DC and decide what to do. Thats not all, my brakes are now acting up again. Warp rotors. I am so tire of the inferior quality of DC. The Dakota Q/C has so many appealing features like the style, power, size etc. why did they use such low quality parts or bad design. I would buy a jack [non-permissible content removed] to ride before I buy a Dodge. One thing has really bothered me about the AC control knob which proves how stupid their engineers are. If you turn your AC/Heat control knob you will see it has 11 different settings. Why in the hell does it have 11 settings.
    No more will I hold back on the griping I have done on Dodge. They deserve to be dogged and they need their [non-permissible content removed] kick. The can of worms is now open again and its too full to close. You know what else I did while at the dealership. A couple was looking at a Dakota and the salesman was doing his stuff to make the sale. I went to my truck and pulled out a stack of work orders on past service done on my truck. I showed them and also gave them the web address to this site. The salesman didn't know what to say. I told him it wasn't his fault and I was sorry but I could not stand by and let a young couple consider this truck without knowing how cheap they are. They thank me and said they wish more people would spread the word on crap like this. They didn't want to take the chance so they went elsewhere. As they were leaving I told them to listen to the way the auto trans shifted from P to D and back to P. It sounds like crap. They did ask me why I don't get rid of it. Answer, because of the money I will lose. I'm not rich and live on a very strict budget. I will drive this truck until my 60K warranty goes out and then will take the lost and trade.
  • hennehenne Posts: 407
    I feel your pain. I have had three Dakotas since 1996, and I cant for the life of me figure why I buy into its looks and ignore the lack of quality. The one I am in now is the best of the three, although the tranny has been pulled, engine rear main seal replaced, software updates, front end popping, rear drivers side passenger window popping out and so on. At least Dodge bought my second one back. I just hope my third one holds on long enough to be financially sound to get rid of.

    I too tell everyone that I see about my truck and the stacks of service orders that I have. One day Dodge will do what a company should. Stop the line and fix the problems before they ship anymore new vehicles.

    Good luck.

  • You obviously have an intermittent connection in your wiring, if the mechanics can't find the problem have them replace the wiring harness next!
    You already know the problem with your brakes, replace the rotors with quality aftermarket ones.

    What gives you the right to screw up a deal between a customer and a sales person because you are seeking petty revenge against Dodge. Makes you look pretty foolish to me, especially bragging about what you had done.

    Dodge is getting ready to open a 3rd shift at the factory that builds Dakotas to keep up with demand. You don't increase market share selling junk. For every dissatisfied owner as yourself there are many more who are pleased with their purchases.

    I've read your complaints in the past and they all seem to be dealer related. Is your dealer that bad or are you so confrontational in your dealings with them that they have no incentive to make you a "happy customer".

    You said "No more will I hold back on the griping I have done on Dodge", really, have you ever held back???

    You knew in the past what was wrong with your brakes but you insisted it was up to Dodge to fix the problem and if I recall they did finally fix it (using the same "inferior parts") to your satisfaction. Now they are getting warped again, is the cause "inferior parts" or possibly your driving style? Put on aftermarket rotors and fix the problem! New rotors are a lot less expensive than trading for a new vehicle.
    If you need constructive help ask for it but if you are just looking for cheese for you WHINE don't expect much sympathy.
    For your edification I have a 2000 Quad cab that has never been back to the dealer for anything in over 2 years. I change my own oil and do all my own preventative maintenance. Rick
  • bcarter3bcarter3 Posts: 145
    I'm not sure how other people decide on major purchases. I do a lot of research before I make a decision to spend 20+ thousand and no irate stranger waving a bunch of papers would cause me to change my mind either way. There are problems with all vehicles and some are more difficult to solve causing some owners to bad-mouth the whole line of vehicles. I do not use the services of any dealer but, if I did and couldn't get satisfaction, I would move on. Life is too short. Dodge has a problem with brakes. Think they are the only company with bad brakes? Look around the Town Hall.
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    "replace the junk rotors with aftermarket units and the warping goes away"

    Thats all well and good, but correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that why you pay 20K+ for NEW vehicle? Otherwise, DC should offer a discount to Dakota owners for acting as development engineers. I got fed up with being DC's quality control test rat and got rid of my Dakota. I haven't looked back either. Yes, I too have had my driving habits questioned by everyone except the Pope and well, if driving 20 miles round trip to work each day is abusive, then yes, I was guility! I suppose living in W PA is part of the problem too. Lots of hills here, not like Indiana where I grew up. Shame on me for living in a hilly area I guess. More the point, shame on Dodge for sourcing the cheapest possible brake components that probably barely passed factory inspection. But hey, the guy who figured out how to save two whole dollars probably got a bonus AND a promotion. What I got was lousy brakes.

    Dandow has a a certain extent. He pays his money and expects a vehicle to perform. Nothing wrong with that. What's wrong is the shockingly lax quality control and the advent of finance persons being involved with engineering and Too much cost cutting in the wrong areas.

    Nevertheless, I had to chime in here cause I know all about the lousy brakes, the freakish shift quality of the 45RFE, the popping and clunking in the front end, the endless trips to get the PCM flashed properly so a fuel injected vehicle runs like it should, not like my dads lawnmower, the AIS motor, the camshaft reference sensor.
    FUnny thing is, Suzuki got the PCM programming right on the first try. WHy couldn't dodge?
    Ah well, not my worry anymore. Probably the best thing which can be said is I'm not a "pain" in my dealers [non-permissible content removed] anymore and DC doesn't get any more corespondence from me either.
  • Yes Dodge has soft rotors. That has been discussed over and over in the past. Yes it is unfortunate and is not right.
    Yes Dodge has had programming problems with a new and innovative transmission, since I don't have one I can't address the problem.
    A vehicle of any type is a highly complex device that built with many things guiding it's inception including government regulations and corporate bean counters.
    It is assembled by human beings. These human beings have their good and bad days just like you and I. They perform repetitive tasks day after day after day. I myself could not last in such a mind numbing job very long while performing at my very best. I'm not making excuses, just observations!

    I know from personal experience that some drivers and their driving style are harder on vehicles than others.
    We have a fleet of over 100 cars in my organization.
    One driver can go over 40,000 miles on the same type vehicle with no adverse wear to the brakes while another driver can't get a set to last over 10,000. Same cars, only variable is driver. Why, I don't really know!

    We have Dodge, GM and Ford vehicles.
    We experience problems with ALL of them. We are a government agency so there are no imports in our fleet. You would probably be surprised to know that GM and Ford have brake rotor warpage issues too! Turning the rotors is not a long term cure, we replace rotors with aftermarket when available because they are cheaper and we have a budget to live within.
    SUVs, based on my observations if I were to purchase one(not likely), my choice would be
    1. Suburban (like a rock, reliable, gas piglet),
    2. Durango (nimble but a gas hog)and last
    3. Ford Expedition (under powered and breaks more often, Major gas hog).

    My point, any vehicle is going to break eventually. You would think a $25,000 vehicle since it costs so much should be very reliable and in my opinion it should. Do you realize that at $25000 you are almost talking entry level vehicle any more? Not making excuses here, again my observations.
    Moving on to the Dealership. Run by human beings (some are rumored to be sub species). How you interact with a person generally causes a similar response. Whether it is right or wrong doesn't matter, it is human nature.
    A courteous, informed customer will interact with the service people better and possibly get better results than a less mature attitude. Fact!
    Service people are often under trained and time constrained. They don't make money on the hard jobs. If they can't figure it out they change a part that might be the problem and move on to the next job. Time is money! Is it right? not if your car is the hard job. But that is the way it generally is, doesn't make a difference what the brand vehicle.
    Seems to me you had a wiring harness burn up in your Suzuki! Only recall one Dakota with a melted down fuse box. Suzuki needed a PCM reprogram? Not exactly a flawless vehicle either. Rick
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    But still, less "flawed" than the Dakota. thankful you don't have the 45RFE.....a coworker(who will soon be leaving our organization due to downsizing) chatted with me last Thursday about the 2nd 45RFE he's getting in his Dakota.
  • haselhasel Posts: 64
    very good write up, am a retired fleet manager, all makes have problems, I had 547 pieces of rolling stock in my fleet, always had best service from Chrysler Products.
  • Ok folks Have not posted here since the rear axle offset was the big talk,
    Here it goes,01 Quad cab,2wheel dr. 4.7 and have the offset axle. 26,000 miles. Rear end was howling real bad and have never towed (syn lube?)
    Took it in and this is what they told me they did to it, Pinion bearings and carrier bearings were rusted,pitted. Removed/replaced Pinion and side bearings and filled with fluid and additive. How do the bearings get rusted and pitted?? And also I always heard that replacing the pinion was kind of a science to it?? I have about 200 hundred miles on it since work was done and I can already hear a very slight whine to it. Do you think I should demand a new axle since it is offset and this howling issue. Not that demanding will get me anywhere. Need advice folks, What would you do??
    Thanks Paul..
  • mailman54mailman54 Posts: 111
    mopar67: I for one am thankfull that I have the 45RFE. I still have my 91 5.2 Auto Dakota with 122k on it. It continues to be a great truck, but I must say that the 45RFE transmission in my 2000 4.7 Dakota is vastly superior. It shifts much smoother and unlike my 91, I seldom have to lock out overdrive to climb a hill. Time will tell whether this transmission will be as trouble free as my 91 was, but at least for now, color me thankfull that I have the 45RFE transmission!

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    ........has proven to be very reliable so far. The first year in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Chrysler replaced about 18,000 of them because they had gotten the wrong lubricant. To date that's the only blemish that I know of.

    I've talked to half a dozen transmission techs and to the person they have said they've yet to see one. And in general Dodge auto transmission problems are way, way down since the "RE" series got a major lubrication system upgrade in '98.

    After tomorrow I will own a 45RFE and I wouldn't have even considered one if I thought there was a major design problem.

  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    Just after my experience with the two filter, special fluid, and 30K fluid/filter changes, I still belive this transmission cannot even begin to hold a candle to the lengendary 727 torqueflight. Even a TH350/400 shifts better. Ford tranys; I only had a c4 in a Merc and it was lousy until I got it rebuilt.
    Point being, this "driver adaptive" transmission on my Dakota apparently did not make it past middle school. Rough 2-3 upshift, enough to make the rear axle bang(god knows how much good it was for the ujoints and pinion gear)and a very harsh 4-3 downshift were enough to turn my off for good.

    ALl I know is the 727 held up for me fine during my teenage years and never missed a shift, used regular Dexron fluid and a simple $8.00 filter. Same thing for the TH350 in a Nova I owned for a bit and needless to say it sure did get abused big time.
    As I stated before, I am not picking at Chrysler for making an abuse proof transmission. Lord only knows I can offer up my teenage years as an example of how NOT to drive an automatic.
    But this is a truck and to drive 20 miles round trip to work and occasional trip to camp & having to put up with all that was simply absurd.
    Add to that the fact it never towed or hauled anything save for my 220 lb frame and I say Chrysler needs to dig out those blueprints for the 727 and soon!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I've driven three RAMs with the 5-45RFE and they did not exhibit the shift symptoms you talk about. I just purchased a Dakota Sport Plus Club Cab with the 4.7 and 5-45RFE transmission and, while admittedly still quite new, the transmission shifts flawlessly. I talked to a fellow today who has 19K on his 2002 RAM and I asked him about the transmission. He's quite happy and thought the transmission was super smooth.

    Maybe you've got one that isn't quite right, but that doesn't mean they're all like yours.

    How many miles do you have on your truck?

  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    I got fed up with the problems and traded it off for a Vitara and pocketed 3,000 extra cash on the deal.

    I hope you have good luck with yours; mine was built on a Friday so apprarently that old saying still holds true!
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Dusty, Ben (mopar67) is a valued contributor to these threads, even though in utter frustration he decided to change "mounts." The membership implored him to stay aboard as his knowledge base is excellent and without reproach. And, although all of us do not always agree with each other, that contributes greatly to the general health of the Dodge Dakota Owners threads. Whether or not various opinions agree concerning the 5-45RFE, one thing is certain: The 5-45RFE in Ben's truck was "disagreeable." This posting is just to bring you up to speed on mopar67. I have always valued his opinions in the highest way.

  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    However, I learned a valuable lesson during that experience.

    As others have posted, the solution was/is......go with the 5 speed!
    My guess is had I gone with the 5 speed, I would have been a lot happier. my next ride, I didn't even consider the automatic option at all. Especially since the 4 banger doesn't have much power to begin with.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Please do not believe that I was attacking anyone. If you've read any of my posts in here you should know, hopefully, that I'm not in a habit of personalizing dialog, attacking people for their beliefs, and I do not have a first strike policy.

    I understood that a Dakota experience has made someone very unhappy and I don't for a moment assume that it was an undeserved perspective. There are negative tendency characteristics with most vehicles. I was only making the point that I don't believe that the problems experienced by Mopar67 are inherent in the 545RFE. That doesn't mean there aren't going to be misfit 545RFE transmissions lurking out there. Heck, I've been to my Toyota dealer four times and seen new Tundras with the transmissions being replaced, and everyone knows how perfect they are.

    I believe that most people will be tolerant of a certain level of assembly mistakes from auto manufacturers. After all, they are assembled by human beings. Since I have some experience in this area -- at both ends, I might add -- I think its safe to say that people get really sour when they perceive that they are being dismissed rather than being served with an honest effort to resolve the problem.

    A disinterested service department, a disinterested manufacturer repressentative can only aggravate an unhappy experience.

    I assure you that I wouldn't have just purchased a Dakota if I believed they suffered from serious design problems, especially those in the drivetrain or affecting reliability. I have talked to dozens of very happy Dakota owners and in all honesty never found one that was anything but very pleased with their truck. But bad ones will happen to anything.

    Best regards,
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    Its just hard to swallow when its YOU these things happpen to.

    Another contention is the fact that out of all my Chrysler products which I have owned, fixed, had fixed, abused, used, and just plain drove like holy old heck, the Dakota was by far the most disappointing out of all of them. SInce becoming an adult, I have long toned down my abuse and rather fast driving (it didn't take much to get me to race back in my teenage years)of my vehicles. Accordingly, I expected far less problems with the Dakota than what I had. Had my prior experience with Chrysler products not been so positive, I would have written off this situtation as simply a bad deal and moved on. Which I have to a large extent. But like any long term relationship, when it goes sour, it hurts. But I guess I get too involved with my vehicles! ha ha.

    At any rate, your postings here are an asset to this board so please keep them coming. As a truck purist, I agree that good old drum brakes in the back are perfectly fine. Dodge's problem was not so much a design flaw in using drum brakes but using inferior, non heat treated drums and rotors. I also agree with bpeebles on solid front axle. THat is, after all, what makes a truck a truck. Want a smooth ride? Go get a Camry or Accord or something.

    Lord, how I miss that old IH we used to have. Now there was a truck. Period!
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Dusty, in no way did I take what you posted as critical of mopar67, I just wanted you to be up to speed in the event that you have not been privy to this thread in the past.

  • 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.

This discussion has been closed.