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Dodge Dakota Performance and Towing Mods

steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
edited May 2014 in Dodge
I think I posted a message in the wrong section..apologies for being a newb here. This forum works a bit differently than most I am used to.

situation: 2005 Dak SLT 4.7L Auto

Need to tow 4200 lbs / 22' Coyote trailer thru Cdn Rockies. Reese WD and Dual Cam Sway cntrl installed.

Added KnN CAI, MagFlow Cat Back, Syn Oil, will run Premium fuel.

Still lookin for a 180 degree ThermoStat..but have had no luck in obtaining one.

No Superchip avail yet. And the Jet module for towing/performance is not rated well at all.

What else could I / should I do to improve the towing experience/HP/Torgue short of buying a diesel Ram 2500.

What are the suggestions surrounding the "Tow/Haul" Button...always or only uphill or what.? My Question stems from advice read here to not use OverDrive while towing and the fact that there are only 3 manual settings on the auto Tranny.

thanx in advanz



  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Which gear ratio do you have, 3.55 or 3.92? For that kind of weight, I would recommend the 3.92s. The best improvement would be to add either a set of cams from the 4.7 High Output engine or a set from Hughes Peformance. You should pick up 15-20 ft-lbs of mid-range torque. There's no need to run premium fuel unless you are having pinging problems.

    As far as the tow/haul mode goes, I was always under the impression that it should always be used while towing. On my 02 QC 4.7/auto, I can only turn the OD off, which puts the tranny into 3rd gear. I tow a 25 ft, 4100 lb (empty) TT. With the 3.92 gears it does well. I don't know if I would want to tackle a 10 mile long 6% grade at 10000 ft with it, though. You should also have a tranny cooler and run 75W-140 synthetic lube in the rear end, as well.
  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Not sure at this time of gear ratio, but it is likely 3.55.
    Will definitely go with the syn lube in rear end. the cams .. well that is a pretty expensive upgrade that at this time is unaffordable. Tranny cooler is huge and std equip now with the 4.7.

    Guess I gots to go with what I got...and see how she performs. Been told many times though that even with mid grade..this motor will likely I'll probably go with the premium anyway. company pays the gas.!

  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    At this time I am pretty sure the gears are 3.55 for no other reason that I did not specify the higher ratio when buying unit.

    Rear end has 75W-90 Synthetic - just changed a week ago....with the Mopar limited slip additve as well.


  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I have a friend with a 2003 4.7 that occasionally tows his tractor. The trailer and tractor go about 4000 lbs. His has never pinged.

    With that kind of weight I would select "OD off," or the Tow-Haul mode for all your driving.

  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Well..that is just what I did on our July 1 long weekend. I figure i am about 4300 loaded. Trailer is "dry" at 3650: add the hitch, dual cam sway, WD Bars, minimal food and maybe 3-4 gal of water, clothes..yea about 4,100 to 4300.

    The trip was through the Cad rockies and I did use tow/haul. There was only really one spot on an 8% grade that i went into first, kept the revs at about 4000 and up we went at about 50kmh.(30mph).

    An extra 20-30 ft/lb of torque would be nice for sure when towing. Still waiting for the chip to come out.

    Actually, being able to just turn off the OD would be a handy thing...As even with tow/haul, one can or so it appears, go into OD, albeit likely only 4th gear..??


  • I mistakenly posted this question in the "Photo Gallery" section, so I thought I better re-post it here, where it will probably be read.

    I purchased a 2000 2-door Dodge Dakota in 2003. I recently purchased a camping trailer which weights 3,200 lbs. The seller of the trailer said my truck will tow that weight with no problem since I have a 4.7 engine with a class III hitch, with 4 wheel drive. But as I look in my book there are different specs depending on whether you have a quad, club, or conv. cab. Believe it or not, I have no idea. I've looked in every piece of paper I've got on this truck, and nowhere does it tell me what I have. How do I tell? I have a back seat. Does that determine the model?

    Love this site. Will really help me in the future, I'm sure. Thanks for any help on this question.
  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Not an expert mind you, but i would think you have what is called and "extended cab" or "club" cab. Now whether that makes any difference in towing ability, I would doubt very much..? Towing capacity is based on total wieght of the TV and trailer. so I guess what they are saying is that with a Club cab your trailer cap would be higher as opposed with a Quad cab..given that with a quad cab you would likely have 2 more persons in the truck and that would drop your towing capacity.

    Is 3200 lbs the dry weight without Weight distributing/sway bars, propane, and MT inside.? With a 4.7..should be able to do it. consider loaded it would probably be around 38-4000 lbs.

    Check on the drivers side door panel (near the lock), and there you should see a sticker showing your vehicles GVWR and towing capacity.


  • dewaltdakotadewaltdakota Posts: 364
    Regular Cab:

    Extended (Club) Cab:

    Quad Cab:

    Both the regular and club cabs for 2000 have only two doors. If there is enough room behind the front seats to have two mini/jump seats back there, then you have the club cab. Very little space and no seats = regular cab. The existence of a rear side window is also a givaway of it being a club cab over a regular cab.
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    With a 4.7L, even with the 3.55 gears, you should be able to tow a 3200 lb trailer. Is it a pop-up or a travel trailer?

    A few of things to keep in mind: 1) Make sure you have a transmission cooler, if you have the automatic transmission; 2) Make sure you run 75W-140 synthetic gear lube in the rear differential; 3) make sure you have electric brakes on the trailer.

    Your towing capacities are listed in the owner's manual. They will depend on body style, 4x2 or 4x4, engine, and gear ratio.
  • Thanks for your reply. It is a regular trailer and weighs 3200 lbs, but I have to add in the sway hitch and other stuff, so it is probably closer to 4000. My book says I'm ok up to 5,000, so I guess I should be ok.

    By the way, do I need to put the 75W-140 synthetic gear in the rear differential if I am running with a manual transmission, or is that just for automatics?

    Thanks again.
  • Thanks, that clarified it for me. 3200 is the dry weight, so I do need to add the extra for sway hitch and propane, water etc. But the book says I can haul 5000, so I should be ok. Thanks again. Phil
  • Wow, pics! Man, if I didn't understand it from the other posts, I sure get it now. Makes sense and now I know I have a Club Cab. Thanks a lot! Phil
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    The synthetic 75W-140 gear lube is required in the rear differential for towing, regardless of transmission type. That's buried in the owner's manual somewhere.

    If you have a limited slip differential, you will also need to add the limited slip additive, if the gear lube doesn't already have it.
  • Thanks. I did take it to the dealer today and he recommended synthetic 75W-90, so I went ahead with what he recommended. He said 140 might be a bit too heavy. I guess it should work ok. He did do the slip additive as well.

    Thanks again for your help.

  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    I am wondering if there is something in between the 90w and 140W for the rear diff and in synthetic. I just put Redline 10W40 synthetic in for an oil change and it seemed quite a bit lighter in texture/viscosity than std oil at 5W 30.

    It might be worth it to go with the heavier lube in the rear diff even though I just changed it a while ago as well..and like Phil, they put in 75W-90 synthetic with LS additive. I did pull 4300 or so lbs thru the rockies without a problem..but i would hate to lose a rear diff up in the mountains...Especially seeing as we are going again in a week for vacation.


  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Right now I'm running the Redline 80W-140 in my rear diff. The 80W-140 comes with the limited slip additive, while the 75W-140 does not. I was surprised that when I switched to Redline gear lubes (75W-90 front and 80W-140 rear) that I gained about 2 MPG on the highway (non-towing).
  • Well since I just changed it I will probably keep it (the synthetic 75W-90) until I get ready to do some serious mountain climbing. Gaining 2 MPG on the highway is certainly worth spending a few bucks to put the heavier stuff in.
  • 4300 pounds thru the rockies! That's pretty good. What year/model etc. are you using?
  • eharri3eharri3 Posts: 645
    An easy way to find towing limits for all Dodge vehicles model years 02-06 including the Dakota, just go to Type in your configuration, the page gives you GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, and recommended max trailer weight for your particular setup using the manufacturer's Curb weight number and adding in a 150 pound driver. Subtract the weight of all other passengers and cargo from the GCWR to get a safe trailer weight limit for your particular situation.

    Then take the GVWR, subtract curb weight, weight of all passengers and cargo, weight of accessories and options, and that is a rough approximation of how much room you have for tongue weight.
  • My friend is looking to purchase a Dakota with a V6. A couple of times a year he will have to move a 2000lbs pontoon boat. Is this too much for the vehicle? Thanks
  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Ok this will be my last meassage on this board.
    ow own a 2006 GMC 2500HD Duramax CCSB SLE.

    Now that is a towing machine, and I can tell ya it blows the Dak outa the water.

    As for the question...I would probably not tow anymore than 3000 lbs with a 4.7 Dak. Yea I know they say with the 4.7 that you can go as high as 7000. sure and I can walk on water. 7000 lbs is a possilibity but only if you don't mind putting your motor and tranny to the absolute limits. Be smart and cut what the "stealer" says in half..then you'll be fine.

    The 4500 lbs trailer I pulled last year with my Dak gave it all it could handle and it was slow slogging up hills...BIG TIME like 30 mph max. that was with 4 people in the truck at the time: 2 Adults and 2 teens.

    For a V6 you should be probably OK..again tranny cooler and whatever you can do to add some torque will help.

    I pulled a tent trailer at 2400 lbs with a 3.4 V6 Montana and it went fine....better than my 4.7 DAk on the hills with 4500 behind it.


  • Very helpfull response. Thanks allot
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    For 2000 lbs, the V-6 should be adequate. Just don't expect to be running down the road at 75 MPH. If you friend does go for the V-6 (3.7L I assume), encourage him to get the 3.92 gears, if at all possible.

    Another concern is brakes. Does the boat trailer have any? An extra 2000 lbs is probably more than the Dakota's brakes can handle safely.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    I'm sorry for the late response.

    I would hope that a 2500 Duramax Diesel would make the 4.7 Dakota seem over worked. You're not comparing apples to apples.

    I've never towed 4500 lbs. with my 2003 4.7, but it handles 3100 lbs. with relative ease, and that's with the 3.55 axle ratio and oversize tires. Maybe its me, but when I'm towing I'm not in any race nor impatient with my progress.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Also, towing a lot of weight depandant of the WEIGHT of the tow-vehicle... not its power. For safetys sake, the tow-vehicle should weigh consideribly more than the item being towed.

    A huge engine in a small truck DOES NOT mean it is now capable of safely towing loads which weigh more than the truck itself.

    Spend some time towing a bulldozer on a tripple-axle trailer and you will appreceate using a HEAVY tow-vhicle to perform the task.

    Perhaps even more important with towing is the BRAKES.... and we all know that the brakes on the Dakota are pretty whimpey.

    Does your trailer have its own brakes?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    The trailer I towed did have electric brakes but were not hooked up. I found the brakes on my Dak to be adequate at normal speeds and going down hills for the roughly 3100 lbs. I currently have factory pads and the rotors were replaced about 28,000 ago. The rears are still original.

  • steak2k1steak2k1 Posts: 24
    Well I would agree that apples to Melons is not a good comparison. However the 2005 Dak 4.7L was rated at 6800 lbs towing capacity. Now my trailer at 22' and loaded for a trip was 4430 lbs (scaled). That truck should have had no issues pulling. The fact of the matter was it did. A higher gearing might have helped significantly but that was not to be in my case. IMOP that truck was not capable for anything greater than the ~3000 lbs you mention. Typical of Manufacturers to grossly overstate their vehicles abilities in mpg as well as towing. I'm told that I can safely pull 12,500 lbs with the D,max...would I though..?? not likely ever. Too much for even that vehicle. Oh it'll do it...just keep pouring the fuel to it and a guy will likely end up with a molten turbo and blown motor.

    not for me thank ya very much.

    As for brakes, yea, Dak brakes suck period. the rears might as well not even be there. If you are going to pull, make sure you use your tranny & downshift, pulse your brakes, and ensure your trailer brakes are in excellent order and a guy will do fine. I had no torouble in BC on two long trips over some major hill and dale..!!


  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I agree with most of what you say but would like to comment on your statement: Typical of Manufacturers to grossly overstate their vehicles abilities in mpg as well as towing.

    My 4.7L Dak is rated at 18 MPG highway and I get over 20MPG. My Volkswagen Jetta is rated at 49MPG and I get up to 56MPG on the highway.

    My point is that the MPG ratings are highly depandant on DRIVING HABITS. It is easy to get better than the window-stickers if one drives with econemy in mind.

    BTW: In reference to my VW Jetta - I do not beleive there is any other vehicle on the US market that can get over 700 miles per tank of fuel on the highway. Those silly hybrids are a gimmick. Test after test has shown that the VW TDI can go a LOT farther on a tank of fuel than any hybred.

    I predict as the cost of fuel goes up, Americans will start to do what Europe did many years ago... and start driving Diesel cars. Modern diesel engines run cleaner than gasoline engines AND still get the 30% better economy that diesels always have deliverd.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Do you know what axle ratio your Dak had?

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Yeah, I'm with Bruce on this. Despite the often repeated myth that the 4.7 is "terrible" on gas, I've gotten:

    *over 17 MPG on 133 tanks of gas out of 293

    *over 18 MPG on 78 tanks out of 293.

    *over 19 MPG on 17 tanks out of 293

    *over 20 MPG on 7 tanks out of 293

    *over 21 MPG on 4 tanks out of 293

    *over 22 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    *over 23 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    *over 24 MPG on 1 tank out of 293

    There is (was) thought of a Dakota diesel for the 2008, and the 4.7 gets full hemispherical heads and a sixty HP increase next year.

  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319

    That's an interesting distribution on your gas mileage. Very one sided. Come to think about it, mine's probably similar, just about 4-5 MPG less. But, my QC is a 4x4 with 3.92 gears.

    The one thing I've noticed with the newer Dakotas is the mileage ratings are much higher than mine. My 02, 4.7, auto, 4x4 was rated at 13/18. An 07, 4.7, auto, 4x4 I recently saw was rated at 15/20. I know the newer Daks have a 5 sp automatic, versus my 4 sp. But when that was introduced, the highway mileage only went up by 1 MPG. I wonder what else they changed to get the better mileage?
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    I recently read where the SAE is coming up with a set of standardized test to determine tow ratings. This will hopefully level the "tow ratings" playing field.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Most people here seem to agree with DC: tow with overdrive off in hilly conditions. Some people have warned about overheating the torque converter if you tow in overdrive.

    But what about the lockup system? If I run at ~70mph, I'm spinning about 2500rpm (2002 Quad Cab, 4.7L, 3.92 rear end). Give it a little gas, it spins up to about 3100rpm, I assume this is the torque converter unlocking?? Give it more gas, it shifts into 3rd (3500rpm to maintain about 70mph).

    So is the danger of towing in overdrive that it unlocks and locks too much? If it stays locked is it bad to tow in overdrive? Thanks for any input.

  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Yes, the locking and unlocking of the torque converter is one cause of transmission overheating. But, you have to be careful when towing in OD. I used to do it when towing a 2500 lb pop-up camper. I did have any problems, except when my speed dropped under 50 MPH.

    Now that I've moved up to a 4500 lb travel trailer, towing in OD is out of the question. The reason is the load is great enough, the transmission won't shift into OD, except when going down hill. When the OD is on, the torque converter will not lock up in 3rd gear, hence a lot of heat is generated due to the torque converter slippage. When the OD is off, the torque converter will lock up in both 2nd and 3rd gears.

    It just depends on how much you are towing.
  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    Thanks for the reply. I'm towing 4200lbs. Overall the 4.7L, 3.92 rear does fine, and in overdrive it will shift into 4th and even drop down to 2500 rpm at 70mph in many situations (even a slight upward grade). Is this hard on the torque converter or tranny? Obviously I'm not totally versed on torque converter lockup and what the issues are.

    The manual says "overdrive off in hilly conditions." But the definition of hilly depends on whether you live in Kansas or Colorado. So (in marginal situations) is there a transmission behavior to look for to indicate when to turn overdrive off?
  • sunburnsunburn Posts: 319
    Considering that the later model 545RFE transmissions (the 5 speed version of the 4-speed 45RFE. The two transmissions are mechanically identical) just have a "tow/haul" mode, you can't lock out the OD, so it would seem to be okay to tow in OD as long the transmission isn't shifting excessively or the torque converter is unlocking and locking excessively. Manufacturers tend to be either vague or very restrictive (i.e. "don't") when it comes to towing in OD.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    When I purchased my Dak, I orderd the manual xmission from the factory. I never have any issues with the torque converter - LOL

    Besides, ordering direct from the factory is CHEAPER than purchasing off the dealers lot and I got the options I wanted. This is because the dealer has a GUARANTEED sell when you order from the factory. The dealer's purchaser purposefully orders cars for the lot which have options with the highest markup. This be because they still have to SELL the vehicle. (And brush the snow off of it all winter!)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    The first one or two years of the 4.7 in a Dakota they used a 47 or 48mm throttlebody. In 2002 or 2003 that was increased to a 50mm.

    The camshafts are different for each year up to 2003. The 2003/2004 camshaft duration was changed to 243.5 degrees intake, 253.7 exhaust. I think that fuel delivery and timing algorithm changes permitted a decrease to valve overlap (17 degrees) for an increase in low end torque and improved idle. Likewise since '04 they've changed camshaft profile and fuel delivery some more.

    The mere fact that the 545RFE transmission has five normal forward gear ratios and considerably less parasitic losses than the previous "RE" series transmissions could explain part of that 1 MPG difference. Top gear ratio for the 46RE is .69, and .67 for the 545RFE. Pretty close but a slight advantage for Dodge's newer automatic. The intermediate second gear on the 545RFE might actually contribute more to better gas mileage.

    Starting in 2007, Chrysler is phasing in Variable Line Pressure (VLP) to its automatic transmissions. This will significantly reduce parasitic losses. In think the RFE will get VLP in 2008.

    On my son's last leave I rented him an '05 Dakota Quad Cab, 4x4. It had the same axle ratio as yours. He was able to average 16.6 for the two weeks he had it in very mixed driving.

    Best regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    The 45RFE and 545RFE are nearly identical with the exception of servo operation. They both have three planetary gear sets, but the 545RFE allows the use of six forward speeds. On Jeeps at least, I'm under the belief that the 45RFE Transmission Control Module (TCM) can be reflashed to make it operate like a 545RFE.

  • Looking at adding a chip, air intake and upgrade exhaust all to gain more towing muscle.

    Is the result worth it and what are the most reliable products?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Most reliable exhaust system is HANDS-DOWN the Borla with their famous "Million Mile Warantee".

    For me, A Borla exhaust was the only way to go. Here in Vermont, most exhaust systems last about 3 winters. Since I expect to keep my Dak over 12 years, I installed a Borla the first year I owned it. It still shines like the spoons in the kitchen drawer!
  • i have an 08 dakota with the factory tow pakage, i purchased an electric brake controller and harness that is supposed to plug right into the truck somewhere according to the controller mfg. my local dodge dealer says there is no such plug and they would be happy to do the wiring for a charge. im not buying dodges story but ive spent 2 hours under the dash and still cant find this plug. can anyone help me out with this? please!
  • i have a 2002 Dak with a 4.7, quad cab, 2wd, auto trans with 3.55 gears and 9.25 rear .it has a few mods to it nothing fancy i have a K&N cold air, and flowmaster 40 series cat back single in dual out. my question is this... we have a 23ft four winns runabout boat that weighs about 3,760lbs. (i have pulled it several times but only for a short distance but it is up quite a steep hill in ky) is there anything i can do to the rig to help it out a little to add a bit more torque? i have no tow package from factory but do have a class III hitch, i am looking at tranny coolers but dont really know which way to go, also looking at a computer chip that has different power/millage settings.

  • bowdinbowdin Posts: 11
    I have an 02 with the tow package. The plug was under the dashboard, to the right of the steering column. The mfr of the brake controller should be able to tell you where the plug is on an 08 Dak. Good luck.
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