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Dodge Dakota: Problems & Solutions



  • It's good to know about the P-Codes, but if it's not theP-Codes that keep coming up on my odometer ie: 950 & 999 then what are these numbers? My 97 is going into the dealer's service dept. tomorrow morning (Friday). I had earlier postings listed under "Backfring And Power Loss". I've given up troubleshooting this one myself. I will post the results.
  • Steve,

    I, too, have a '97 Dakota. Look for my posts about Check Engine over the past 2 weeks. Someone named Dusty has answered a few of my questions, but he left me hanging on my last one (never heard from him again). According to him, the 3-digit codes you're getting in your odometer are Instrument Cluster faults; I get the same ones (950/999). It points to ABS from CAB fuse panel (look thru the thread and you'll see in better detail.). It's still Greek to me - probably nothing serious. I asked Dusty for an exhaustive list of the 3-digit codes we're talkng about here but he didn't oblige.

    On a website called I Hacked, I found this (it'll help you deciper the 3-digit ones):

    What Dusty first claims to be a capability to read P-codes from the odometer turned out to be false: one CANNOT read those codes from the odometer on the '97, and this is no doubt true for other years as well. If you look at my last post, you'll see explicit and useful instructions as to how to get and crack the P-codes for the Dakota.

    Good luck.
  • Well, I just replaced the PCM with a used unit. Did not fix the problem. Back to the drawing board.........Any one have any suggestions??
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    For the most part, Dusty is a knowledgeable and helpful resource for all of us in the forum. The same goes for Bruce (bpeebles) and this forum would be much less worthwhile without them. I like to think about all of the people whom they have helped (including me) at one time or another. The tone of your posting seems to indicate that Dusty is not cooperative, respondent or helpful. I sincerely think otherwise. If I misread your intent, I apologize. The whole beauty of this forum has been the friendliness of the members, and the respect for each other. No one is always "right" (not counting my mother-in-law) and everyone does their best to offer sound advice.

  • Thanks Dakotaman1for the input. I was able to get my truck into my local Dodge Dealer Friday morning (9/16) but haven't heard anything back yet. I've called a couple of times but the service writer said that they didn't have anything conclusive yet. At one point he even used the word STUMPED. That's not what I wanted to hear. He told me to expect a call today (Saturday) but we'll just have to wait and see? I'm concerned that my PCM may be faulty because my check engine light hasn't came on for the past week even when my truck was running so rough it was backfiring? I'll post what the dealer says when I get their response.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    My apologies for not responding right away. Not only am I not on every day, but I've been have internet problems to boot.

    The P-codes are readable in my 2003 and earlier Dakotas, and it works in Dodge and Chrysler cars and mini-vans. I just verified that it works on a '98 Chrysler Concorde and a '99 Dodge Caravan. I was not aware that it didn't work on a '97 Dakota. That seems strange since Chrysler has used that same method for reading faults even before they went to the direct display of P-codes in the odometer display.

    If you still need a definition of the instrument cluster codes I'll provide them.

  • And sorry I didn't get you something posted before you took your truck on in - no doubt the very thing you werre trying to avoid. Not that my post would have necessarily solved your problem either. If you get a resolution on your PCM issue, I do hope you'll post it.

    And as for BooKitty's comment - seems a bit too defensive. All I did was recap the history of my thread. I agree that Dusty has provided much useful on this forum, and given the nature of those commtns, it surprised me that he was wrong about reading P-codes. He started out by saying (emphatically) that Chrylsler was the only make that allowed you (owners) to do this, and it ended up - after several iterations - to be that it's impossible; and I made this determiniation on my own. That P-codes are not readable via odometer on the Dakota is something every Dakota owner should know, and as such, it's too bad such info couldn't be posted in a general (e.g., FAQ area) rather than hidden within a discussion thread like mine (or Steve's).

    The only other point I raised was the source of the 3-digit code translations. Inquiring minds wanna know. Dusty offered a translaton for "950". I politely asked for a source of the entire list and that request was ignored (for whatever reason). Here again, translations for all 3-digit Instrument Cluster check codes, as with P-codes, are something every Dakota owner should know, and as such, it's too bad such info couldn't be posted in a general (e.g., FAQ area) rather than hidden within a dussion thread like mine (or Steve's). Turned out - Steve had the same question.

    What is frustrating on a forum like this is when someone posts several questons and some else - well meaning as they are - weighs in and picks and chooses which questions to respond to and says nothing about the rest - even if to say "I know nothing abut that other question..." This is what's a little frustrating for some - a little like charades. So I ended up research on my own and - in effect - answering some of my own questions. I posted the definitive source of 3-digit (Instrument Cluster Check) codes:

    and P-codes

    for all to see. If someone disagrees with this information, please push back! But I saw it posted nowhere else on this forum.

    Enough of that. Dusty's responces were appreciated and I stated so personally in all my replies. Reread (BooKitty) if you missed them. A major suggestion would be to have a generic FAQ area to post fundamental info about the Dakota, so it's not couched in problem-specific threads. That would save busy folks like me a lot of time. If such is possible on this forum, great! If not, so be it.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    First, I guess on occasion I do let some questions go by because I'm not the only one in here that has good Dakota knowledge and has been more than helpful. However, I missed your's because a number of posts went by and I don't always go backwards to check. I do have a life outside of this forum.

    On your comment about the "P-codes are not readable via odometer on the Dakota " is categorically incorrect. They are on 2001s and up for sure. The fact that the '97 has the newest Chrysler instrument cluster and PCM circuitry, I did believe that they would have the P-codes readable in the odometer display. It looks like I made an assumption and was incorrect. My apologies.

    As to the Instrument Cluster codes, They are from the '03 Dodge Dakota factory service manual, although Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler cars and trucks use the same scheme and have for a number of years. I agree that it should probably be published in the Dakota FAQs forum and I will post them there when I have the time.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I just realized that I did respond to the question about where the source for the instrument cluster codes were. It's in post number 3662 to Seth.

  • Dusty,
    Can I reset the instrument cluster myself without having to go back to the dealer? What is the procedure?
  • First thank you to everyone who posted the info about engine codes, and the website that explains on how to get them and their explanations. I had the engine light come on for the first time today, and was confounded by it as I had just done a pretty thorough check over with a trustworthy mechanic.

    I discovered the code to be P0455 " a large leak in the evaporative system". I am not completely sure what this entails but I did recheck my gas cap, which incidently had just been replaced a week or two ago to pass an emissions test in Ontario. (drove it to California in the meantime) The gas cap seems fine.

    So I humbly ask as to what I else I should be looking at or for to solve this problem. It is a 2000 club cab 2wd with a 3.9L.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    No. The faults displayed during the test, with exception of the 110 code, indicate a fault elsewhere in the vehicle communication system. The 110 code is not clearable because it indicates a fault within the instrument cluster itself.

    The system actually performs a automatic self test and reset at each switch to the "on" position of the ignition switch. For example, if a 920 code is being displayed ("The instrument cluster is not receiving a vehicle speed message from the Powertrain Control Module [PCM]"), the fault will only be cleared when the cause of the fault has been corrected. In this case the instrument cluster is looking for a lamp off signal from the PCM. That signal will not be transmitted until the PCM circuitry is working correctly.

    Best regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Well, first if you don't mind, how did you obtain the "P" code?

    A loose, defective, or incorrect fuel filler cap will cause this problem. Double check to ensure that you have the correct cap. There are two different caps used on the Dakota depending on the evaporative fuel/emissions package that you have. Depending on the year, whether conventional, Club Cab, or Quad Cab, and whether it has federal or California emissions, your vehicle may or may not have the On-board Refueling Vapor Recovery system.

    If you still have the old cap, look at the underside and compare it to the new one. Some will have a plastic base and others will be metal. The new one must be of the same construction. Disregard the color of the upper plastic. The factory ones were black, but Chrysler replacements are medium gray. After market caps may also be a different colr.

    If the cap is not the issue, there are neoprene vapor lines going from the Leak Detection Pump under the hood to the top of the fuel tank. Because of the year and age of your Dakota, it is likely they are cracked. This will cause the P0455 code. I would advise replacing all of the lines and any other components that look brittle or cracked.

    Best regards,
  • You have all been very helpful to me. Hope this helps someone else.

    I just replaced the left upper ball joint on my '98 Dakota. Here's the process I went through. First, get a book and read up on the procedure.
    A floor jack is really helpful but you can make due with a scissors jack if you must. You must have a solid jack stand to support the truck while you are working.

    The original ball joint is riveted so you are going to have to remove these rivets.
    I used a drill and cold chisel to do this job. Center punch each rivet first. Use care while drilling. You are NOT trying to drill through the entire rivet. Brake lines are very close to where you are working so be extra careful where your drill goes. It'll be easier if you slightly loosen the lug nuts before you start. Also put a block behind the rear wheels for safety.

    1. Jack up the truck and place a jack stand under a solid part of the frame. Let the truck down onto the jack stand. You're gonna need the jack in a minute.
    2. Remove the wheel.
    3. Remove the brake caliper and support it with a rope or something so that the weight is not hanging on the brake line.
    4. Remove the brake disc. (Good time to inspect pads and rotor.)
    5. Use a floor jack to lift the suspension so that the ball joint is not under pressure from the springs. (If you can move the ball joint by hand, you have lifted it enough.)
    6. Now comes the fun. Center punch each rivet head (there are 3)
    7. I used a 1/4 inch drill which seemed to be about right. Drill the center of the rivet head until the drill is about 1/4 inch deep.
    All you are doing is weakening the rivet head. Do not drill into anything else but the rivet.
    8. Using a cold chisel, pop the rivet heads off. Sounds easy, doesn't it?
    Trust me, you'll need a hammer. (You’re using safety glasses, right??)
    9. Now remove the cotter pin and large nut from the under side of the ball joint. You're gonna need a breaker bar for this one. Make sure your knuckles are not in harms way when this sucker lets loose.
    10. Now get up and go to Sears and buy a ball joint "pickle fork" tool that you forgot to get before you started. It's about 15 bucks.
    11. OK, that was a pleasant break, now back to work.
    12. Using your shiny new pickle fork tool and your favorite hammer, pop the ball joint loose from the casting.
    13. At this point, if you are lucky, the ball joint will pop loose from the newly headless rivets. If not, you still have that hammer & chisel handy.
    14. Once the old joint is out, use the chisel to cut off the shaft of the now exposed rivets, then pin punch the remaining portion of the rivet out.
    15. Install the new joint. Put in all three bolts to hold it to the frame and start the nuts but don't torque them yet. Pick up the nut you just dropped and start it too.
    16. Make sure the hole for the lower bolt is clean and not corroded or out of round, then install the lower bolt through the hole.
    17. Once the lower nut is started, tighten and torque the 3 attachment bolts. Then tighten and torque the lower bolt.
    18. Make damn sure you use the recommended torque on all of these bolts or you could find yourself with a 3 wheeled truck at an inopportune moment.
    19. On the lower bolt, torque it to recommended value and check to see if the cotter pin will fit. If not, use that breaker bar again and slightly TIGHTEN the nut until the cotter pin will fit. Never loosen the nut to put in the cotter pin.
    20. Now set back for a minute and admire your work. Then put the rotor back on and reinstall the brake caliper. (You did use correct torque on those caliper pins, right?)
    21. Put the tire back on and drive slowly and directly to where ever you are going to have the alignment done. Yes you do have to because you just broke every adjustment there is on that wheel. Be happy. You just saved yourself over 100 bucks and you have a new tool.

    Disclaimer. This is what I did. Your mileage may vary. Batteries not included.
    working under a vehicle can be dangerous. be careful!!!!!!
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    airzooguy, your instructions were extraordinary in their detail as well as extremely clear. But, you failed to mention whether it was a 2 beer, three beer or 5 beer job. Please, in the future, do not leave out this most important detail. Thanks for a great and humorous post.

  • I have a '91 dakota (318 v8) and was recently trying to change the engine. I got an engine that was supposidly a 318 w/ a police interceptor out of an '89 diplomat. After pulling both engines I realized that the mounts were in totally different positions causing the new engine to not have room to fit, and that block doesn't have any holes in it to change the position of the mounts.

    Does anyone have a solution?
  • well fixed head light with display lights, was able to buy new switch for 39 on line and did not fit but was able to swap out bad bulb, a little pricey for a light bulb, but still cheaper then service dept at dealership. Still problem with a intermitting gas gauge, it works some times and sometimes not, it shows "E" no set times on not working, can be running down the road and gauge work intermitting or stays working for a few days or not, gonna try to check connections under truck on saturday, any suggestions, would think that connections out side would be some like in the inside connections ,have some type of clip to lock in place, but gotta try something, thanks for anyone that reply, Keith
  • super charge it and stick in the bed, never dealt with a police cruiser, they come around dealerships to often
  • I've thought about that and if it weren't so hard I would about be tempted to do it.
  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    I had an intermittent problem with the rear passenger window in my 2000 Quad cab. It stopped working one day, and I called the dealer to make an appointment. It had failed prior to that, and the dealer told me it would be difficult to trace the problem if it was operating. Every day, I would try the darn thing and of course it worked flawlessly. The day of the appointment, it started working again. Dusty posted that usually the trouble can be found in the main control in the driver's door. I called to cancel and the service rep told me that if it happened again, that he would wok me in somehow. Friday past, it died and no amount of wiggling, door closing and opening had any effect. I drove it over, and they found the regulator faulty, and also replaced the motor (extended warranty). Happy days are here again, and thankfully it never failed in the open position. Thanks to all.

  • Hey, since engine changing problems are being discussed, can anyone tell me if it is possible for a V6 or a 318 to bolt up to a transmission that originally had a 4 cylinder engine. My husband and I were given a 95 Dodge Dakota Sport with no engine, and trying to find a 4 cylinder has been a nightmare, so we were wondering if any other engines would bolt up to the transmission. Any help would be appreciated.
  • Well, here it is Monday and still no conclusive diagnostic, well, not completely anyway. I decided to take a trip to my dodge dealer to get some stuff out of my truck and talk with the mechanic. He said that the new plug wires that I just installed from NAPA were arching and causing a misfire (I admit, I opted for the cheap set :cry: ). I informed him that this was after the fact, an attempted repair. He also said that the intake gasket was leaking badly and needed to be replaced. I asked him how many codes he was able to pull off the computer? He replied-0. I asked if that seemed strange given the way the truck was running and backfiring. He admitted that it did seem strange and stated that I may also have a bad Oxygen sensor. I called them back today and asked them to thoroughly check the converter. I figure that the converter may have caused the back fire if it was partially blocked taking out the intake gasket and not displaying any codes if the sensors are indeed bad. The dealer said that I was already up to around $1100.00 without the converter :surprise:
    I'll keep you guys posted.
  • Success!! After reading several posts on many other websites, I was led to check out my Crankshaft Position sensor. The check is a simple one, simply measure the resistance between the middle and each outer pin. There should be no continuity. Turns out that mine had continuity in both cases. Replaced the sensor, car started right up...on the road again :shades:
  • My CEL light just came on . truck has been running great ... full oil , plug new , filter new everything possiable .... I dont know how to pull the codes off of it or even what they mean .. its a 2003 quad cab magnum V8 .... 52 k .... ANY HELP would be great before I have to take it to the dealer .... I bought it used so there is no WARRENTY :cry: ..... ANY HELP PLEASE
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    you need to tell us the code that has illuminated the CEL.

    Without starting engine turn key ON-OFF- ON-OFF-ON then watch the display as the diagnostics run.

    Then look up the resultant code(s) here:
  • very cool ran throught only got 1 code then said P DONE

    code was P 0441

    Evaporative Emission Control System Incorrect Purge Flow !!!!!

    LOL what the hell dose this mean ....
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Boy... you asked what to do and I told you... now you want us to fix it for you too? ;-)

    I have decribed the "Evaporative Emission Control System" diagnostics in technical detail in past appends. Please review the archives. You should be able to find out what it means... and what the common fixes are for failure P0441
  • P0441 possible causes: Evap canister
    Wiring Harness intermittent
    Evap Purge Hose (canister to fuel tank)
    Evap Purge Hose (solenoid to canister)
    Evap Purge Solenoid Vacuum Supply
    Evap Purge Solenoid (leaky/stuck open)
    Evap Purge Solenoid (stuck closed)
    The code is set if the Leak Detection Pump Test has passed and no air flow through the evaporative system is detected by the evap monitor. The purge solenoid should be mounted under the hood on the driver's side just outboard of the battery. Check the lower hose from the valve to the engine. Also check the electrical plug.
  • I forgot, Purge Solenoid part number is 4669475AB and is about $30. Dealer probably will get a couple hundred to troubleshoot and replace.
  • THANK YOU!! For posting your results. The dealer had tried the PCM to no avail and was stumped as well. I called today and asked them to check the Crankshaft Position sensor and it WORKED!!

    I am finally back on the road again!

    Thanks Dusty & Dave for your help.

This discussion has been closed.