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Dodge Dakota: Problems & Solutions



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    >>>There are two types of Mopar(R) Rear Axle Lubricants: 80W-90 Gear & Axle Lubricant, pn 4874468, and 90W-140 Synthetic Gear & Axle Lubricant.<<<


    The part number for the Mopar Synthetic Gear & Axle lubricant is 4874469. Its listed as 75W-140. I guess the older stuff was 90W-140. My error.

    Anyway, over-the-counter price is $19.20 per quart.

    Best regards,
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    I've read postings here that others have had trouble finding it, but I'm under my husband's '01 Dakota 3.9L and there is this black plastic housing around the radiator that I think I have to remove but am having the darndest (sp?) time trying to remove it! Do I even need to do this to get at the drain plug for the antifreeze? I've changed antifreeze before but not on a Dodge. Any advice appreciated! Thanks! Elissa
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Ok, found the black plastic drain cock and rubber drain valve and tube. I turned the drain cock all it would turn - about a quarter of a turn - and nothing flows out. Do I need the engine running? I have my radiator cap off and my reservoir tank top off. What am I missing? -elissa (thanks!!!)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    There's two possibilities. You were either very low on coolant in the first place, or you haven't opened the drain cock enough.

    If you weren't over heating before you attempted this project, then my guess is there was adequate coolant in the system. This leaves the drain cock not being opened. I have yet to have the experience of doing this myself so I'm not aware if there are any peculiarities with the drain valve.

    Someone else in here able to advise Elissa?

    Best regards,
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Thanks Dusty! Working like a charm now! My other cars only ever required partial turn for the coolant to drain so I thought I'd turned it enough. Lovely! Now if only I had the torque to loosen the rear diff screws that I siloconed on so well 30K miles ago... ;-) -elissa
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085

    Many folks have encounterd that plastic drain plug BREAKING OFF when they attempt to drain the radiator. Replacements are available at a reasonable cost. You were lucky.

    Do not forget that there is more to changing the antifreeze than draining the radiator. There is the engine, hoses and heater-core that all should be drained. Also, that plastic cover you mention contains the overflow tank. I have removed that plastic cover and hosed out the overflow tank with the garden hose. I seem to recall that there are 2 bolts holding that cover on.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    Bpeebles is correct. There is a plug on each side of the engine to drain the engine block and most of the system. The drain plug has a flat top and is located very close to the top flange of the oil pan. On your 3.9 V6 they should be fairly close to the middle of the block.

    On my son's '91 Dakota they were fairly easy to see. Again, I haven't had the experience yet on mine or a newer style Dakota. They usually come out a little hard. Some sealant on the threads is recommended when they are reinstalled.

  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Thanks Dusty! Working like a charm now! My other cars only ever required partial turn for the coolant to drain so I thought I'd turned it enough. Lovely! Now if only I had the torque to loosen the rear diff screws that I siloconed on so well 30K miles ago... ;-) -elissa
  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    Anybody that reads this, what does your 4.7l v8 idle at, mine idles at about 500-525, please let me know what yours idles at(4.7l v8 only)
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Thanks Dusty and BPeebles! THanks! I never really drain the engine any more when doing coolant drain/flush/refill... I broke a $5 aluminum 'bleeder bolt' on my '93 civic once trying to drain the core and it was a $100 tow and service fee to fix, as the system could not be re-sealed. Without the Chilton or Haynes on the '01 Dakota out yet, I'm afraid I'd do more harm than good trying to figure out which is the coolant drain bolt. Although your descriptions will certainly help!

    I satisfy myself with more frequent drains than a full drain. <shrug> I flushed it a couple times hoping I'd get like 75% of the old coolant out. Probably not, but it looked clean and good and I did get the overflow emptied and filled a couple times too (even if I couldn't figure out where the second of those two bolts were).

    Of course NOW I'm finding all these posts on the CORRECT coolant - yikes! :-)

  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Of the 6 spark plugs that I replaced on my husbands' '01 Dakota 3.9L 6-cyl engine, one came out a little oily. :-( When I change the oil, we're usually down two quarts every 3K miles and have gotten in the habit of adding a quart now and then. Hm... Other than that, seems to have the usual power and no visible blow-by out the tail pipe. Anyone from California care to comment on the possibility this might hit me when we go to have it smogged? It's still under CA emissions warranty, but I'm trying to put off the $100 cost of a smog unless I know there's a chance it will fail. Anyone have experience with only one leaky piston/cylinder effecting emissiosn tests? Thanks!
  • datagurudataguru Posts: 95

    thanks for confirming my thoughts.

    I'll check to ensure the tightness of the shock mounts, tie-rod ends, status of the ball joints, etc and lube the bumper stops and sway bar bushings. Again, thanks for your help.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Elissa, these things are hard to judge without actually seeing the spark plug. Two quarts every 3000 miles seems high for a 3.9, to me anyways. My son's '91 has 270,000 miles on it and it uses less than a half-a-quart between oil changes. Most of the Dakota V6 owners I know seem to be reporting between one quart to none in 3000 miles. I may have run across somebody that used more.

    If the engine seems to run fine (ie: no skipping, plug fouling, loss of power) then you might be okay. Have a fresh plug in that cylinder just before you drive it in for the smog test and it might pass.

    In my experience on the 3.9s the valve guide seals get brittle after a while, with either high mileage, poor maintenance, long periods of misuse, or poor oil quality. I've seen some go 150,000 miles and the valve guides are still fine, but you could have a worn one. Not as common on Chrysler V8s as it is others. Clogged oil returns can cause this problem and an indication would be plug fouling on the rear cylinders first. Chrysler oil returns are huge compared to most, but I have seen it happen on a 318 many years ago (that was caused by someone disconnecting the PCV valve, by the way). If this vehicle has been neglected at all or used mostly in stop-and-go driving, You might consider pulling a valve cover to inspect the returns.

    If it's been run too cool or sat for a while, you could have a frozen oil control ring. Give it a nice long drive with a couple of passing gear tromps. Might loosen up.

    Compression and leak-down test are the only way to confirm the cylinder condition.

  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    hey guys, i just bought my truck a couple weeks ago and now im having trouble with the tranny, it tends to stick when im trying to slow down, and inbetween 2nd/3rd when shifting, it kinda seems like its grabbing..i have the 4.7l auto...anyone else have this problem, or know what i can do to correct it?
  • slickwilliedjslickwilliedj Posts: 252
    thanks again for all the info... I think I will be servcing the differental and agreee that u really can't damage anything other then your wallet by over servcing a componet.
    Have you or anyone else performed the rear differental service before?
    How difficult is it?
    Is it worth doing it yourself or letting the dealer do it and keep your hands clean?
    whats the avg price for the lube and friction modifier?
    I've read in several other posts that some have changed and are using Red line instead of the Mopar brand. What do you suggest with brand Mopar or Redline or other brand?
    Anyone know who makes the Mopar lubes?
    Does it matter?

    If u can get that part number for the 90w-14090W-140 Synthetic Gear & Axle Lubricant u the man!

    *Is the friction modifier synthetic aswell or is just the gear oil? also is the friction modifier sold separate?
  • ron35ron35 Posts: 134
    slickwilliedj - I changed the rear differential fluid some months back and it is not difficult. This past weekend I did the front differential, the manual transmission and the transfer case. I have saved several past posts on this, which I can send to you if you like. In all instances I used Red Line Synthetic lube, in the differentials I used 75W-90 which already has the friction modifier in it, it was not necessary to add any additional friction modifier. I did use the Mopar sealant ($16.51) but you could probably use some RTV with just as good results. There was enough to do both differentials and have some left over.

    Springfield, VA
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    I just got done changing the rear diff fluid in my husband's '01 Dakota for the second time. I got sick of the thing leaking incessantly after a shop would do it, so I took over!

    You need the following:
    1) a 1/2 inch socket (i found having an impact wrench to be invaluable in removing the screws when they were over-tightened)
    2) mopar or other silicone RTV sealant
    3) mopar differential friction modifier if you have a limited slip rear
    4) gear oil (our truck takes 2.5 qts of 75W90 and I don't bother with redline or any synth)
    5) new rubber fill plug from dealer for $4 just in case

    If you don't remove the spare tire under the bed, you may also find a pump or siphon invaluable in getting the fluid into the fill hole also.

    Here's what I do:

    1) Assemble all materials and put drain pan and cardboard under the diff
    2) Remove spare tire for easy of access
    3) Remove all bolts on the diff
    4) Pry the cap off - it's siliconed on so may take some effort but it will come
    5) Let gear oil drain completely - it can be slow like an hour or more I like to wait
    6) While you are waiting, clean up the cap with brake cleaner - remove fill plug and check condition
    7) Clean surface of the diff that you will be adhering the cap back on to - make sure there's no gear oil left behind on that flat surface that will prevent the silicone from adhering.
    8) Apply gooey silicone (I wear rubber gloves for this entire process) all the way around the cap (note: the cap may be wider and larger than area you will be adhering too, check ahead of time for where the best place to apply silicone is).
    9) Carefully, put the cap back on the diff, lining up the screw holes
    10) Insert screws, hand tighten evenly around, make sure you have
    11) Let the silicone cure - I wait an hour or two
    12) Fill up to the fill hole with gear oil and modifier if required
    13) Pop new fill plug in - I like to silicone that on too to prevent leaking.

    You're done.

    The whole job takes me an entire afternoon that I can't drive the truck (because I'm anal and wait forever for the diff to drain and the silicone to cure) but only about one hour of actual labor.
  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    nobody wants to answer my question, so long
  • edunnettedunnett Posts: 553
    Arrangerguy: which question did no one answer and why not just repost it to remind us - you've had 4 questions in the last week, so I assume you want to know where others are idleing?? That was your last question anyway. I have an '01 Dakota 3.9L that idles around 750 RPM. -elissa
  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    Elissa; guys, i do not mean to be a nusence, but i am a new dakota owner, i have never owned a dodge so i dont know anything about them. I was wondering what peoples 4.7's are ideling at, and also transmission in the 4.7...mine sticks when im coming to a stop...or feels that way anyways...anyone know a solution?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    First, did you buy this vehicle from a dealer?

    The idling is about right for a 287 (4.7) motor. They typically idle at 525-575 warm with no defrost or air conditioning enabled. Certain things will raise the idle:

    *cold cycle start

    *restart for 60 seconds

    *selection of any defrost mode

    *air conditioning engaged

    *battery voltage drop enough to initiate a heavy charge

    As to the transmission symptom, a few questions:

    1. Does this symptom change with temperature?

    2. As the transmission goes through the upshifts with light to moderate acceleration, what is the shift quality? Anything you would judge to be unusually harsh?

    3. Does the transmission make any unusual noises?

    4. Do all the segments of the transmission gear selector illuminate or are there any other malfunctioning instrument cluster lamps?

    5. Are there any codes stored in the computer?

    There are a number of things that could cause this. I'm assuming that you have the 545RFE transmission. This model is all electronic. There are no bands. All shifts and internal operating conditions are controlled by the Transmission Control Module (TCM), which on a Dakota is part of the Power Control Module (PCM).

    Off hand this could be the result of low transmission fluid, the incorrect transmission fluid, a dirty valve body or solenoid control pack. Batteries that are approaching death have exhibited strange problems on Dakotas with the 545RFE.

    If the battery terminal voltage drops below a certain point, even for a second, you could be in the Learn Mode, which will make some shifts seem irratic for a while. In this case I don't believe you have a clogged filter, although on the 545RFE there are two. I'm not sure what the symptoms are if the second filter is clogged. Problems with the 545RFE are truly rare and my local talent hasn't seen enough problems with them yet to have much experience.

    My recommendation is to have a Chrysler technician look at this immediately. If you bought this from a dealer you should still be under warranty. At 62,000 miles it might be time for a transmission drain, flush and new filters. This transmission will only take ATF+4 fluid. Do not use ever use Dexron-Mercon in this transmission.

    Best regards,
  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    Its not the smoothest shifting transmission, i know that. But im not sure if im overanalyzing. When im under normal shifts from first to second alright, but second to third sometimes is a little rough, and once im in third sometimes the tranny feals 'weak', and when im going to slow down...once i get inbetween 3rd and 2nd feels like its kinda sticking, and the vehicle doesnt wanna slow down unless i use the brake...what do you think?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    >>>it tends to stick when im trying to slow down, and inbetween 2nd/3rd when shifting, it kinda seems like its grabbing<<<

    The 4.7s I've driven with the 545RFE have all been exceptionally smooth. In fact that's has actually been a criticism of some. The 545RFE is fully "adaptive," meaning that the transmission will continually update the shifting pattern based on how you drive. A computer builds an algorithm based on a certain number of shifting sequences.

    When you change your driving habits it takes a number of sequences to update the program. I have experienced this myself. I normally drive sedately. I've had a few occasions when more aggressive throttle seemed unresponsive. But the next time its fine.

    I am confused a little about the actual symptom. I thought you were experiencing a premature downsift into first when coming to a stop. Your last message makes it sound a little different, or I'm just not reading your meaning very well. After reading your last, it almost sound as if the torque converter isn't unlocking at coast down.

    My suggestion is to take it back to the dealer and have him road test it.

    Best regards,
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I'm going to be replacing my front rotors in the next couple of weeks and I was wondering what type of bit (hex or Torx) and size is required to remove the caliper bolts? Thanks.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    My Dakota service manual doesn't state what size or type the caliber sliding bolts are, but one picture indicates its a hex head. In all likeihood it metric.

    Best regards,
  • ron35ron35 Posts: 134
    sunburn - I believe the hex size wrench needed for caliper bolt removal is 7MM.

  • johnny0johnny0 Posts: 1
    I've read through a few posts (new to edmunds) and see that vibrating brakes and rough shifting seem to be common problems.

    From what I gather, I need new brake rotors for the constantly vibrating brakes.

    The Tranny issue, though (slams in and out of gear AND sometimes prematurely downshifts to 1st gear when braking)...what is the solution?

    My truck also has an issue searching for an idle to the brink of stall, but never does....of course the dealer dismisses this as "normal"...yeah, the normal runaround.

    2001 Quad Cab Sport 4x4 4.7 v8
  • arrangerguyarrangerguy Posts: 18
    your rotor issues, are putting oversized rotors and ceramic pads on mine...and the tranny, who knows...everyone tells me its a solid my guess would be to bring it to your local tranny shop and have them check it out...and as far as the idle goes...i have the same problem...its unfortunate...i just keep the defroster on all the time...that way it idles around 750...with it off it idles at 500...people are telling me you can go to the dodge dealership and get a "flash" for the pcm, which will eliminate this problem. I dont know much about the dakota line yet, but thats what i can tell ya

    good luck
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    The "slamming" from Drive to Reverse is often caused by sloppy Ujoints. My dak needed new Ujoint at the rear of the driveshaft before the 50K mile warantee was up. (Dealer covered it 8-)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    You didn't state how many miles you had on this vehicle, but since it's a 2001 it might be time to maintenance the transmission: filter replacement and fluid flush.

    As I've advised before, do not install Dexron-Mercon in that transmission (since you have the 4.7, you probably have the 545RFE). There are two filters used on this tranny and the only fluid that should be used is ATF+4.

    There were a couple of PCM (computer) flashes issued since 2001. As Arranger mentioned, there's one to raise the idle and another to change the shift program schedule in the transmission.

    I would strongly advise meeting with your service manager and tell him you've heard about PCM flashes to correct these issues. If nothing else, get it on record in case of a future warranty claim.

    Best regards,
This discussion has been closed.