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Dodge Dakota Suspension and Axles



  • shopdog97shopdog97 Posts: 160
    I have a 98' Dakota 4X4 with a V-6. I have to say it has been pretty reliable over the years. It's heading towards 99K(not bad for 11 years) Now it get fairly lousy mileage even with a V-6, and even if I tune up it won't be that much better. The ride is not very good, I replaced the stock shocks with monroes, and its OK, but not great. I had both upper and lower ball joints go bad, so they are about 4+ years now. One thing that happened last June or July is a shackle let loose and nearly put the leaf spring through the bed. I've never had that happen on any truck I had in the past and I'll blame living here in the Rust Belt and myself for not crawling underneath and doing an inspection more often so I would have seen in coming. So they're new now and all is fairly decent. I see the new body style Dakotas 05's and up and wonder if people really like them. My friends have asked if I would by another Dodge and really don't know what I'd do if I could buy something else. It never left me sitting(except when the battery died) and the most major repair I had to do was when a freeze-out plug let loose at the back of the engine. Had to yank the tranny out to change a $2 plug!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    It took me a while to get use to the 2005-2008s, the front end being the part I didn't like very well. The rest of the design I thought was great. Now the style appeals to me, especially since the 2009s have a very blunt look. After 2004, the Dakota got some nice improvements to ride and handling and a stiffer frame. The front suspension is quite a bit different. I'm not particularly fond of the '05-08 interiors, especially since I love my '03 interior and dash design. My son had a rented one for a week and he loved it. I had to say it was a very pleasant truck to drive.

    A bad freeze plug is highly unusual problem on a 3.9. I haven't heard of a rusted out shackle before now, either. Unfortunately ball joints replacements were common for Dakotas of that vintage, and even up through 2003. They had a recall on the uppers.

    I've heard a number of Dakota owners ay they wouldn't buy another, but I've heard more say they would. What most don't consider is the fact that a Dakota is a far heavier and more capable truck than a Ranger, S10, Canyon, Tacoma or a Frontier. My '03 Sport the way it is equiped is rated just a few hundred pounds less for towing than many full size trucks. And you know, after ten years or so I hear owners of competitive makes recounting their repairs, too. I think Frontier owners replace various engine sensors and brakes on a routine basis, Ranger folks seem to have the full gamut of issues as Dakota owners, I know of two Tacomas that the frames rusted through rendering the trucks unsafe to drive, and Canyons...well, I just won't go there!

    Unless my requirements for hauling and towing change, I'd buy another Dakota without reservation. If I didn't need as much truck as a Dakota, I'd probably look at a Ranger or a Frontier. Since our last Toyota was not a stellar vehicle, I think I'd pass on a Tacoma.

  • kegler12kegler12 Posts: 5
    Just purchased a '95 dakota with 137,000 mi and there is play in the steering. Feels like it is kinda floating but hard to describe. Mechanic checked the suspension parts and they all seem tight, so he tightened the steering box but this just made turning the wheel tighter but didn't correct the floating feel so it actually made it worse as far as correction steering so I had him back it off. Any ideas what would cause this? He thinks maybe a front end alignment might help but truck alignment as far as tire wear and lack of drifting on road seems ok.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Sounds like you might have a sticky boost valve in the steering rack.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    The 1995 Dak does not have rack-n-pinion steering... that was first deployed in the 2000 Dakota.

    However, it would be best to troubleshoot and isolate what the problem is..... losing your steeing is NOT somthing you want to happen.

    Lift BOTH front wheels off the ground and use your hands to try and 'wiggle' each wheel in all directions. Check all steering-linkages, tie-rod-ends and other steering components. Any play HAS to be isolated and fixed.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Actually, to be specific, two-wheel drive Dakotas had rack-and-pinion steering back to '91 at least. But, yes, the four-wheel drive version had a gear box.

    He didn't state in his mail note, but I've seen this problem before. I'm betting he's got a two-wheel drive.

    Best regards,
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Good catch Dusty... you always keep me honest.

    Here in Vermont... a 2-wheel drive truck is nearly unheard of so I assume all trucks are 4X4.
  • hoff829hoff829 Posts: 2
    So my dodge is a 2001 with 129,000 miles on it. I replaced the rear in it last year. Was brand new and now the whinning has started again. I replaced the fluid in it about 1,000 miles ago and yet the whinning wont go away. Someone said its the tires I have on it but I really dont think its possible. This thing has caused more headaches than anything. When i place in reverse it acts like its going to die/turn off. If im on long trips and come to a stop after going 65-70m MPH it acts like its going to go while I have the brake applied. Also I had a problem with my head lights several times. One will light up by its self while truck is off after long amounts of rain. Am I the only one that has issues??? I take great car of my truck. Its a 4x4 v8 4.7 liter. Just incase anyone was wondering. Please help I dont have the money to replace the rear again.
  • kegler12kegler12 Posts: 5
    Sorry I forgot to state that my '95 Dakota is 4 wheel drive. The mechanic did check for looseness in suspension joints and found them to be in good shape. I had my wife turn the steering while I watched under the hood and there seems to be play in the steering box. Could it be the gears are worn inside? I know nothing about the inner parts of these.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Sure can. Especially if it's a Saginaw.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Nah. No problem. When you get as old as I am these things happen all the time.

    I'm pretty sure the 2-wheel drive Dakota was introduced with rack-and-pinion steering. I know the '91s had em. My son put two in his during the seven or eight years he owned it.

  • dodgetrukndodgetrukn Posts: 116
    Just had my 4x4 2001 quad 3.92 rear rebuilt for the second time at 95k. Transfer case also replaced, told bad bearings. Total $3300. All rear diff bearings replaced just 40k miles ago Spring? in clutch pack broken and clutch pack replaced this time. Crap bearings..i guess. I figured it was the rear bearings again with the whining at all speeds. Mileage went from 15 to 15.88mpg after the changeout.

    Just had fender bender, looking for prices for new front bumper, and lower plastic bumper guard where the fog lights go. Anyone have any preferred places of interest where I can purchase a replacement front bumper in Central NJ? Anyone know of any special tools or anything i need to acquire before I take the old bumper off? thanks in advance. Ger.
  • jfunstonjfunston Posts: 3
    We have a 2004 Dodge Dakota, and have been getting a snapping sound in the front-end, sounds like right around the wheel. We've had it in to a mechanic, and they can't seem to find a problem. We've read about the balljoint problem with previous years, does this affect 04's? Any other suggestions what it might be? It started out only when I was making turns, or go over bumps, you'd hear the snapping sound (it's fairly loud) but, it's doing it all the time now.
  • I recently purchased a 2002 Quad 4x4 with 4.7 and 45000 miles. I have a clunking sound coming from the front when I brake heavy. The dealer has replaced rotors, lines and pads (and DS front axle seal). I don't feel the clunk in the pedal, just in the front end. Also, today it was raining pretty heavy. Decided to try out the 4 hi. It would not disengage out of 4hi until I turned the truck off. BTW - the light did change from 4 hi to 2. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
  • inspect the lower and upper ball joints as well as the outer tie rods theses are know problem areas and can create the snap popping noise you describe. good luck if you replace the ball joints i would recommend using after market brand moog vs mopar..
  • ck the ball joints lower and upper very weak and problem area with these trucks
  • ive been looking around for a front end leveling/spindle/spring spacer lift and i can not find one. all i get are ones for rams... can anyone help me out please.
  • The noise was coming from front right wheel bearing and housing. Dealer replaced and have had no problems.
  • Hey I have a issue with my CV joint on my dakota. I put a lift kit on my dakota the front CV joints are too short. Theres to much stress on them ant the keep pop'in out of place. You said that you knew a guy that had a lot of CV joint. I was wondering if you new his number, e-mail, or if he has a web site and its address.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    yooperguy_66, the man I got my CV joints from is Kevin Yutani, in Ocala, Florida, his company is called "Constant Velocity of Ocala", and he has an Internet site at

    He is very friendly and helpful and will talk you through your problems on the phone. If you want to get on his good side and if you have ever been in the Army (especially if you were a parachutist), mention that!

    Hope this helps. Tom in Bismarck, North Dakota (was in Ireland when Kevin helped me).
  • jt8manjt8man Posts: 5
    2001 Dakota R/T, heard clunking noise on hard turning and discovered the right side forward lower control arm support bracket broken. This is the metal peice that is welded to the frame that holds the control arm. How do you fix this? Can you get a new bracket and weld it back on? Do you make one and weld it on? You can't just replace the whole frame? The upper and lower ball joints were replaced and the car was aligned a couple of weeks ago with no issues.
  • I would like to know where i can find on the truck what rear-end and ratio on the truck , as i would like to put a positive trac rear end . I don't do very well on snowy or icy roads think this might help. Thanks in advance for the help.
  • I think there is a sticker in the glove box with the info regarding the rear size and maybe if it had the slip differential. I sold my 2001 at the end of 2011, wish I could help some more.
  • rider60rider60 Posts: 1
    My 01 Dodge Dakota broke it's lower control arm leading bracket. No off-roading ever...driven advance warning. Chrysler corp. denies any problems with that model year. Can't get local shops to respond. I'd sure like to know what jt8man did to fix his same problem. Any help appreciated.
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