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Dodge Dakota: Problems & Solutions



  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    Certainly not me. As I said, you are only the messenger, its the folks who provided you with that information are the ones I have issues with. Certainly not you. How can I? We share the same admiration for Mopars in general and you've provided fantastic inside info found no where else.

    I will be the first to admit I have been very harsh with respect to my experience with the Dakota. I had high expectations because of past experience with mopars. Recall too, that I have been most vocal in praise for what Chrysler produced in the past in terms of quality and reliability. I guess once you have good success with a line of cars, one tends to expect this going forward.

    Suffice it to say, Chrysler needs to be (and probably has been many times) taken to task for their fumbles in recent years. Its already happening in the arena called the marketplace. Personally, I would love to see yet another phonenix like rise from the ashes to greatness. It can be done but not by hollowing out what once was a great producer of cars and trucks. Not by decontenting the product. Not by choosing the lowest bidder for parts.

    I suppose I took it too personally(the dakota) but darn it, when its my cash on the line and my financial outlay, I expect the best. Chrysler, in this instance, didn't deliver.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I think you mis-read or misunderstood my comment. I'M percieved as the enemy to someone else who's been in here.

    I have no argument at all with anything you've written. Chrysler's management seems to have drifted to the Ford/GM style where the stock holders were the most important goal.

    I view your participation in this forum has proof that people can be very objective, despite your personal experience. You are obviously an honest person and the type everyone would like to see serve on a jury. That, my good friend, is intended to be the sincerest compliment.

    Chrysler is no different from any of the automobile manufacturers. They've all made mistakes, some intentional excursions led by the bean counters, others unintentional.

    I will say, and I suspect you are or might be of the same opinion, that the Chrysler of old (pre-Iaccoca) was a strong engineering company and actually produced a superior product through most of its history. The Iaccoca's of the world would argue that it didn't get Chrysler anywhere to actually be that fine engineering company, and from just a sales perspective (if that's the measurement standard) then he'd be right. But I also suspect that people like you and I are not impressed much by who sells the most.

    Although not a habit for me and always dangerous, let me try this:

    You are between the age of 45 and 57

    You are in a technical field

    You are a better than average reader

    Your politics tend to be conservative, but muted

    You are generally recognized has having little male ego

    Best regards,
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    I am in my mid 30's but have harbored an interest in cars since I was in grade school.

    I actually do perform technical work.....application support to be exact and I hold a B.S. degree in education along with two microsoft certifications.

    My reading is not nearly as good as when I attended college and grad school but I gravitate towards works on the automotive business and read voraciously on business happenings in Fortune, Forbes, and businessweek.

    Pretty much conservative but certainly pro labor along with pro business.......a diversity that is not easily explained however I feel both can and need to succeed so that we all may enjoy a strong economy. Thus, my very pointed and strongly negative opinion on WTO, NAFTA, and other "oursourcing" adventures. Profits yes, but not at the expense of people. There is a balance here.........

    You are right, not much ego on my part although I am proud of my achievements and try to be an asset in terms of knowledge and experience be it here or in personal relationships.

    And I am short on patience, detest meetings, detest trivial details, prefering instead to focus on the larger picture yet always mindful of the pieces that need to fit together to make a task successful. I have been quoted as saying "Give me the Reader's digest version of the events........"

    I can dirty my hands, hunt, fish but am just as comfortable in a Dior shirt at a formal dinner sipping wine instead of guzzling beer. I cannot read a blueprint nor can I add 2 and 2 without a calculator but I can read a balance sheet and understand, even in dick and jane terms, what P&L means to a business.

    I tend to be on the side that believes most fortune 500 executives are way overpaid in light of their "contributions" to a company. Yet I am keenly aware that good pay and benefits is how, in most cases, you attract top flight talent to run an organization. Still there are exceptions and Southwest airlines is a good example of this.

    I like shareholders and accountants as people; I have issues when they constantly demand ROI and cost cutting when those are short term strategies that often injure the long term health of the company.

    Yes, I am not overly impressed with sales figures as I am with thoughtful design, good manufacturing and good service. You nailed me on that one! I am much more interested in how a car is made rather than how many were sold.

    I believe in buy american but recognize that other nations produce fantastic quality in their efforts to compete on the world market. I believe that this will be a never ending battle as we stake our claim in the world economy during the 21st century.

    And finally, I never did like the 45RFE! Never have, probably never will. Sorry, it just seemed to over engineered and was a complex result of simple task to transfer power from the engine to the rear wheels. :) But hey, maybe just maybe the 545RFE will be better. Lessons are constantly learned and I am sure the fellows in auburn hills are learning theirs.......:)

    Now lets see...........1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2......yup I got that one memorized! Left bank from front of car was even cylinders, right bank were the odd cylinders.

    PS you are totally correct on Ford parts......jeez.......their numbering system was a joke and you had to know, in certain cases, WHEN the damn car rolled off the assembly line. Did you know the 351W engine could be had with either a cast iron or aluminum water pump, depending on HF II mood the day it came off the assembly line? Yes, he delved down into nit picking details such as water pump design during his days as Ford Chairman.

    Remember yellow, blue, green, or brown grommet color on the ECM on 1970's Fords? What did good old mopar use? Five or four pin and a four pin ECM would work on a five pin connector! No color, no needing to know when it came off the line.
    Ah the simple days.........
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Good reading, my friend!

    Your business attitude is remarkably similar to mine. I, too, am involved in the education business...sort of. I'm currently responsible for developing service manuals and training programs for one of my company's products.

    I also have a broad range of work experience.

    "I can dirty my hands, hunt, fish but am just as comfortable in a Dior shirt at a formal dinner sipping wine instead of guzzling beer."


    Yes, I remember the color coded Ford parts. Even worse on transmissions. You had to be careful reading those CZAZ, CAZZ, CZZA, etc. You could find a drive shaft in your hand when all you really needed was a choke pull-off diaphragm.

    If you could memorize 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2 you knew the firing order of nearly every Chrysler V8 engine ever built.

    I once bet a guy that I could remove a valve lifter from any (then current) Chrysler engine WITHOUT removing the intake manifold. He didn't believe me. He lost!

    All my bests,
  • livnlrnlivnlrn Posts: 76
    Finally did my brake job. 32,000 miles. I kept looking at my pads through the rim and they were fine, plenty of pad left and rotor looked ok. Some feel in the brake pedal but not bad. Then everything went, grinding noises and you could feel it in the pedal, so I bought rotors and pads ect. Pulled the wheels today and found that the inner pads on both sides were gone but the outer pads (that you can see through the rim) were almost new. Inner parts of the rotors were BAD, outers were fine. So anyway, replaced everything and cleaned and filed smooth where the pads side on the brackets. Hopefully they will actually clamp the rotor this time instead of pushing on one side to slow me down like they obviously had been doing. So what should I check to make sure that this doesn't happen again? Why would the new brakes only work the inside pad? I cleaned and filed the guides like I said, should I do anything else? Any help.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    (livnlrn) You did the right thing. The most critical part of a good brake job is to file smooth the sliding surfaces and apply hi-temp lube. (Quality pads come with Stainless shims and the proper lube) The use of approprate rubber lube on the slider pins is also a good idea.

    The only thing you can do to help reduce reoccourance of uneven pad wear is to perform PMs on your brakes. (PM= Preventive Maintenance)

    Personally, every couple years, I pull the wheels and remove the calipers 'as if' I was replacing the pads. I take that oppertunity to clean everything up, file the sliders and ensure that everything has been wearing evenly.

    I did a PM on my brakes this past summer. (2000 Dak) The fronts were found to be wearing evenly. The rears were cleaned up and the automatic adjusters were removed and lubed with antiseeze lube. I was training my Nepheu about brakes as I did the PM in my dirt driveway.

    In your above append you suggest that only the inner pads were doing the braking. This is incorrect. ALL of the pads were doing the braking. The inner pads wore out prematurly because they were dragging. They were dragging because they were not fully releasing. This is often detectable by feeling the lugnuts for heat after driving. Dragging brakes can lead to warped rotors.

    I would expect that your MPG will be measuarably better now that your brakes are not dragging.
  • livnlrnlivnlrn Posts: 76
    That would be very nice if my MPG improved. I always thought my MPG was worse than a lot of people. I get maybe 14 MPG around town here. And that is in the summer without "warm-up" idle time and usually without the AC running. I did not get any grease with my pads though. I bought the Wagner Thermo Quiet Semi-Met. pads. They are their top line stuff and all the shims and "squeak grease" is supposed to be built in. I even went back into Bonds to check. I did lube the slider pins but did not have any "hi-temp grease" at the house. The sliding surfaces are pretty easy to get to, so I guess I will go buy some hi-temp grease and pull the wheels and apply a small amount. I at least won't have to pull the calipers. Thanks
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yeah, I agree with Bpeebles. Although the inside pad is still refered to by engineerrs as the "primary contact pad," it is far more likely to see disproportional inside pad wear on single-piston calipers because the inside pad is dragging than the sliders being the problem. In fact, that's a fairly common scenario in that type of design. The sliders could be the problem, but you'd know by seeing a lack of contact wear on the rails.

    There is one thing that could cause the insides to drag and it not be a sticky caliper. The rubber lines from the caliper to the junction at the steel line is sometimes a cause. What happens is the rubber material inside becomes sofened and swells, reducing the inside diameter to zero at zero pressure. This will not cause a problem when applying the brakes because as pressure builds the inside diameter opens to transmit pressure to the caliper. However, when your foot comes off of the brake pedal and the pressure drops inside the rubber line, the inside diameter collapses again to block the complete release of pressure in the caliper. Hence, you get some inside pad dragging.

    This happens so slowly that to the person who drives the vehicle every day you don't notice the slow building of the symptoms and you are continually become accustomed to it.

    Good luck,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I should've asked you the year of your Dakota. After 2001 they began using a dual-piston caliper with fully enclosed slide pins.

  • mstanmstan Posts: 15
    I have a 97 Dakota that recently has developed for lack of a better term a "chirping" noise. I start my truck up and run it down the road with no noise. Once the truck warms up fully - the temperature gauge reaches normal operating temperature - the noise starts. And it seems to occur only when the truck is moving. The faster and longer I drive, the louder the noise gets. If the truck is sitting and idling - nothing. If I rev the engine without moving - nothing. It sounds like a worn belt, but I'm almost 100% sure its not (again you only here it when the truck is moving), but that's what it sounds like. It sounds like its coming from the engine. I also know that it's not the heater - it doesn't matter if the heaters on or off, it still makes the noise. Any suggestions/help would be appreciated. Thanks
  • mopar67mopar67 Posts: 728
    with a dry bearing.
    Or might be a wheel bearing but in my experience wheel bearings make noise hot or cold.
  • livnlrnlivnlrn Posts: 76
    The truck is a 2000. So I have the single pistons. When I did replace my brakes I saw no evidence of any motion on the cast rails that the top and bottom of the pads slide on. I am thinking that this is where the problem was. The slider pins were in fine shape and still had lube on them.
    Any way to check the hose problem you talked about? The pistons retracted easily with a clamp. Any other ideas? I have not driven much on my new brakes yet and the cold weather here in Vermont doesn't let me easily work on things or feel for heat.
  • livnlrnlivnlrn Posts: 76
    Since I do not do many brake jobs, I looked into alternate lubes for the brakes to maximize my dollar. I came up with anti-sieze. But you have to use the nickle based stuff. What does everyone think? Ok to use on the rail sliders?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    (livnlrn)Yup! That is the stuff. Any antiseeze goop that will not get runny when hot is good. (You do not want to get any on the pads or rotors)

    This is the very same stuff you should use on any sparkplug threads. (Car, lawnmower, chainsaw... etc)

    You are correct when you suggest that it was the cast-rails where the problem was. This area is subject to roadsalt and once it starts to rust, the pads tend to create a 'rut' in the cast-rails. Then, the pads may be stuck in that rut rather than sliding the minute amount they need to when the brakes are released.

    When I got the Raybestos quietstop (ceramic-based) pads, They came with lube and many various-thickness shims. The shims are tiny stainlesssteel thingies that snap onto the ends of the pads. This provides a stainless-steel sliding area on those cast rails you mention.

    This SS sliding area should reduce the chances of the pads getting 'stuck' on the cast-rails.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    I have a 2002 Dak quad cab with the 4.7L, 4 speed auto, and 3.92 limited slip differential. I've had it in for repair 4 times, the last time the local Chrysler rep drove it.

    My largest complaint: singing noise from rear at 74-76 mph crusing. I think it's the differential. The dealer replaced the ring and pinion on my first visit and the noise went away. But it came back in 3 months.

    Chrysler rep says it's a normal noise. Funny, my 1999 Grand Cherokee with Tracloc didn't sing. My Nissan Maxima didn't sing. My Ford Taurus didn't sing. My Mazda 626 didn't sing.

    So the dealer pretends he can't hear it and the chrysler rep says it's normal. Short of hiring an attorney, I'm stuck unless one of you knows of a solution. A special gear oil? Replace the differential with a quality piece, one that doesn't sing or go CLUNK?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Addendum to my last post: my Dak is 2WD, has 15K miles on it, about 10K with the new ring and pinion.
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319

    The differential (3.92 LSD) on my 02 QC started singing between 30 and 50 MPH at about 29K miles. The dealer replaced everything except the axle shafts and LSD unit at about 34K. At 38K it is still holding up.

    If the noise came back after 3 months, I would suspect an incorrectly setup ring and pinion. They can be tricky to set up correctly. Also, break-in of a new ring and pinion is critical to longevity. Randy's Ring and Pinion ( has good advice on break-in procedures. Most dealer's won't give you any specifics on break-in other than don't tow anything. At least mine didn't. You mentioned a clunking noise. Is this also from the rear end? If so, it probably isn't a good sign.

    I would aggressively pursue it, since the vehicle is still under warranty. You have a few options:

    1) You could try a different dealer.
    2) Since you have some warranty left, you can let it go for a while and hopefully it will get much worse or maybe fail completely.
    3) Consult an attorney to see what legal recourse you may have.

    I'm sure there are other members of this forum who might have experience with this type of situation.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Addendum to my last post: my Dak is 2WD, has 15K miles on it, about 10K with the new ring and pinion.
  • mstanmstan Posts: 15
    Mopar67, Thanks for your input. Someone told me that if the universal goes, the truck will vibrate and ride hard going down the road, and it does not. Here's another symptom: I live in Northeast PA and it's been very cold here for a week - highs in the teens, lows around 0. When the truck does warm up, the noise is no where near as loud now as when it was warmer; ie, 30's and 20's. I asked a mechanic to look at it this week, and he/I could barely hear it. He thought it was nothing - again you could barely hear it. I'm going back next week when it warms up, but I'd like to have an idea as to what it might be. Again, thanks for any input.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Addendum to my last post: my Dak is 2WD, has 15K miles on it, about 10K with the new ring and pinion.
  • Hello, I was wondering if in anybody else is having problems with the washer fluid freezing somewhere during very cold temp. My 02 Dakota seems not to dispense the washer fluid in temps below 10 degrees and driving in NY and Ct with tons of salt put on the roads makes seeing clearly sometimes a game in its own. Last winter I thought that maybe the dealer had added water or cheap washer fluid, but the last couple of days it has not worked either. Just thought that I would get some other opinions.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Well, I've seen U-joints get dry and rusting that squeaked without any first. When they eventualy start chewing themselves up from lack of lubrication, then you might get a vibration.

    Then again, I've seen U-joints puke that never vibrated.

    You might be able to diagnose the difference by counting the squeak event if you can get the thing to make the noise at very low speed. Many times (not aways) a wheel bearing will squeak only once a revolution. A U-joint will probably do it 3-4 times per wheel revolution.

    This is not a foolproof diagnostic test, but it does work.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I haven't had that problem yet on my 2003. In fact i used them last night when it was -8F here in Rochester, New York, and they worked fine.

    Best regards,
  • jimqjimq Posts: 14
    I am also an owner of a 2002 Dodge Dakota. On Wednesday 01/07 my washers stopped functioning. I was able to get them working again by clearing the nozzles with a very thin paper clip. Same problem Thursday (2X), same solution. On Friday and today (Sat.) I have been unable to get them to function. The temperature here in NH has dropped to minus 12F both days. Seems the freeze up is occuring at or near the nozzles.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    It was -12 here last night and its been -8 here all day. Mine have worked fine.

    It's possible that there's enough small debris in the lines that they slow down and stop at the nozzle in very low temps. The only resolution might be to use compressed air to clean them out. Or, you've got some punky washer fluid. I have had fluid in the past that froze on extremely cold night but was fine in the AM.

    Stay warm!

  • bookittybookitty Posts: 1,303
    Gee guys, I haven't had that problem at all. Today it went down to sixty something and all was fine. I do the following:

    1 Push compressed air through the tubes and outlets.
    2 Use a good quality windshield washer juice.
    3 Stay here in FL far away from Western NY, and New England.

  • jimqjimq Posts: 14
    Thanks for the advice Dusty! I'll try switching washer fluids after the current cold snap. I just added 2/3 of a gallon of the generic pre-mixed blue stuff last Sunday. I had no problems in mid December when the temperature dipped to -2F so it is probably just a punky brand of fluid. If the problem persists I will try blowing out the nozzles and lines to rid them of any debris in the spring. Jim
  • spike50spike50 Posts: 481
    I've seen some "winterized" alternatives to the blue stuff at Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Prestone has a pee-yellow product, which performed well. But I've since switched to the milky-pink-orange stuff from Rain-X. It's both a winterized mix and contains their standard Rain-X windshield treatment.

    The Rain-X seems to work well at cutting the morning windshield frost/ice (truck sits outside in central PA) and helps in wet-weather visibility. Although these alternatives are a little more expensive than the generic blue stuff, the "start-up and go" aspect is worth it to me. Also it has eliminated system freeze ups, which did occur in another one of my vehicles recently.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Sometimes the problem can be induced by the type of washer fluid. I typically buy the generic blue stuff (a lot of it is made here in Rochester by a company called Clean-brite and labeled under a dozen different brand names). You will notice every once in a while that there are little blue particles in the bottom of the bottle. These probably get poured into the washer reservoir many times, especially at night, and you'd never notice them. They do clog the nozzles. I've had that problem before.

    Spike, what do you think of the Rain-X orange stuff? I've had one person say they thought it was more effective.

  • spike50spike50 Posts: 481
    So far so good. Technically, the washer tank currently contains a mixture of 1/3 cheap blue stuff, 1/3 winterized Prestone, and 1/3 winterized Rain-X. I'm now only refilling with Rain-X.

    It does clean the windshield of bird doo-doo, mud, etc. Two weekends ago, it was about 55 degrees and really raining here in PA. I noticed that the windshield's rain shedding improved after a let loose a squirt or two of washer fluid. This past weekend, it dropped to around +5 to 10 degrees F and the fluids didn't freeze up.

    If anything bad happens, I'll post.
This discussion has been closed.