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Dodge Dakota: Problems & Solutions



  • I have the same issue with my 04 dakota and have been told that it may just be a problem that can't be fixed. I would be interested in anything that can be done about this too.
  • erictlerictl Posts: 3
    Am I correct in thinking that the thermostat is not opening enough in my 1995 Dodge Dakota if the temperature gauge rises to the maximum safe level (not over to the hot mark yet) at higher rates of speed (55-65mph) and not at slower speeds? It didn't rise to that temperature before. Someone said that it could be the water pump. Should I change the thermostat, it is the original one.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    In general, the higher engine speeds coupled with highway driving should OVERCOOL the engine. This is perhaps BEST CASE situation from cooling perspective.

    The cooling system is more heavilly loaded with stop-n-go, slow traffic due to little airflow thru radiator and low engine speeds (waterpump is slow).

    Given the above, you need to ascertain WHY the temp is going up when the cooling system has the LOWEST load on it.

    Given the age of your Dak, there are several things that should be checked out.

    **)Are the radiator fins intact and not corroded?
    **)Is coolant up to proper level?
    **)Is there buildup of crud plugging the system?
    **)Is waterpump moving the coolant? (check belt tension)
    **)Does thermostat function? (soak in hot water with thermomator and observe operation)
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    A bad radiator cap can cause this symptom also.

    Since the system was opened you need to make sure that the radiator has sufficient coolant.

  • rlhouffrlhouff Posts: 1
    2001 Dodge Dakota, 5.9L. This was the message from engine diag. tool. Loss in power and sounds like it's blowing air.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Hello again. I posted a history of a problem with a 1990 Dodge Dakota on June 5th. It is posting #4227. I was in the US all of July and had a look at the pickup at my sister's house in Minneapolis and all seemed OK, but I am certainly no expert on auto electrics. I am back in Ireland now, and my daughter and son have driven from Minneapolis to Bismarck with no problems until Saturday when they stopped in a parking lot and went to a grocery store. When they got back, the engine would not turn-over from the ignition key.

    However, when they tried the "jumper" trick described in #4227, the engine turned over fine and started and the problem hasn't repeated (as of today, Monday). While in Minneapolis, I spoke with my nephew who had the pickup for 3 years and also with the neighbor down the street who showed the nephew how to start the car. The technique is to take a piece of what looks like 14 gauge insulated copper wire like the kind used to wire outlets in the house, strip about 3/4 inch of insulation from either end and use that as the jumper. Then, near the battery, there is a push-in connector that, as I remember, has a red wire on the male half of the plug leading toward the firewall and maybe the ignition switch, and on the female side another red wire leading toward the battery. The technique is to pull the connection plug apart, stick one of the bare copper ends of the jumper into one of the two connector sockets on the female half and then turn the ignition switch to "on" and then touch the positive pole of the battery with the other bare copper end of the jumper. That engages the starter and starts the engine. My nephew says it was foolproof.

    This pickup has been to two or three garages and one of them replaced the ignition switch and some wiring that runs along the steering column. The other two garages charged big bucks for changing every electrical part possible connected with the ignition system except for the solenoid and the starter. The most recent garage is convinced the headlights were left on and the battery was run-down, and that was why the engine wouldn't start.

    The neighbor thinks it is a starter problem and thinks the garages were wrong for dismissing that possibility. He said when he checked for voltage at a time when the engine wouldn't start from the ignition switch (after the switch and wiring had been replaced, and after the pickup had been starting well for several months) he found voltage up to the plug I mentioned above, but nothing at all beyond it, even the dashboard lights not working. On this episode of Saturday, my son and daughter said the lights on the dashboard worked fine.

    We would all be very grateful for any ideas that anyone might have of what is happening.
  • just became a member.. but saw your message and i feel for ya.. new truck and stain... only i clean carpets and apolstry (sp) one thing i've found with coffee stains.. are this.. if not treated with a proper cleaner to start with,, this will set the stain basically making it perminant. Best thing to do is use an apolstry cleaner like you listed.. while it is still wet.. did you use something else before resorting to what you listed.. just curous as it may have set the stain.

    anway.. bla bla bla isall i hear from my self so i'll shut
  • Hey, i'm new.. i have a 1999 dodge dakota.. sport.. 2wd, 3.9 6cyl..
    anyway here is my problem.. i just had the tensioner replaced. .. was charged 181 bucks for the part i realize this is too much.. anyway.. so not after paying the stupid bill...i'm stuck with a fan the is roaring like a woken bear. what is going on.. i checked the fan.. and it is actually loose to the touch.. it.. moves front to back.actually feels loose..was it the mechanic's fault for not tight'n properlly .. or is this a comcon problem the just has to be fixed every once in a blue moon????
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    A national newspaper is looking to interview consumers who have decided to hold on to their current pickup truck, rather than purchasing a new one. Please send an e-mail to no later than Wednesday, August 9, 2006 by 2:30 PM PT/5:30 PM ET containing your daytime contact information and what pickup truck you currently own.

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • HERE'S THE HISTORY: I have a 2000 dakota and wrote in a while ago about it running rough and backfiring. After COMPLETE tune-up, still running rough. I changed the throttle position sensor and it seemed to run fine for about a week. THEN...the check engine light came on and it began to run rough again. Took it to Autozone to check the code and it coded for a loose gas cap. (of all things). Just to be sure that it was a bad cap and not just loose, I had them reset the light and I ran it around for another week. It still ran rough and was back up to it's old pre-TPS replacement behavior. Check engine light came on again and again it coded for a loose gas cap. I replaced the gas cap yesterday and so far it is running better.
    HERE'S THE QUESTION: Will the bad gas cap effect the way the truck runs? I am perplexed because this rough running and backfiring thing had been going on ever since I bought this thing and neither I nor the mechanic can figure it out. I am getting really frustrated with it and any other help would be greatly appreciated. :confuse: :confuse: :confuse:
  • Dusty.. i find that a little strange.. why is it then that my dakota.. which i've had for only 3 months now.. never made a noise from the fan clutch.. until after i took it to the mechanic to get the belt tensioner replaced... now it makes a rotten roaring noise.. that sounds like i'm driving a piece of crap.. the fan clutch assembly seems to have alot of play in it. would it be time to replace it?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    The Dakota service manual states that there should be "no play" in the thermostatic Fan Clutch assembly. If you apply back-and-forth force to the fan blades in the axial position (attempting to move the fan blades in a line from the front to the rear of the vehicle), there should be no perceptible movement.

    Another test is to spin the fan with a brisk motion. When fully warmed the fan should not rotate one revolution, and they typically move no more than one or two blades distance.

    The noise is normal as previously described. I cannot offer a logical explanation at this time, except that maybe the belt was so loose that the fan was not receiving enough drive until the tensioner was replaced.

    Best regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Noise produced by the fan clutch on a Dakota is normal.

    The Dakota uses a viscous clutch fan that permits reduced load and subsequent loss of horsepower at high speeds, yet increased cooling capacity at low speeds. These fans contain a silicone filled coupling that connects the fan blades to the water pump shaft. This design utilize a thermostatic bimetallic coil spring that reacts to the temperature of the radiator discharge air.

    If the air temperature rises above a certain point, the bimetalic exerts pressure against a slip clutch and allows power of the water pump shaft to be transmitted through coupling to the fan assembly. This raises the speed of the fan blades and increases air flow through the radiator to provide increased cooling.

    Sometimes after the vehicle has been driven to operating temperature the bimetalic spring may expand to the maximum coupling position due to localized heat from the engine or radiator after shutdown. After a cooling period the spring may not contract or contract fully. Upon restart the expanded spring causes the fan to spin at engine RPM until enough cool air has been drawn through the radiator, Then the spring contracts. This is what causes that momentary period when the fan is heard.

    Testing the Fan Clutch Assembly

    If the fan assembly free-wheels without drag for more than five revolutions when spun by hand, the fan clutch assembly is defective. This test must be conducted when the engine is completely cool.

    Fan drive engagement begins between 165 to 180 degrees F.

    There should be no perceptible lateral movement of the fan blades. If so, the fan assembly is defective.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    Just to clarify.... when dusty says "Fan drive engagement begins between 165 to 180 degrees F."... this is refering to the AIR BEING PULLED FROM THE RADIATOR...not engine temparture.

    I know that in over 6 years, my fanclutch has NEVER enguaged due to heat from the radiator. HOWEVER: my fanclutch enguages for about1 mile of driving when ambient temps are about 40 degrees. (this is also normal behaviour)The silicone fluid inside the fanclutch gets "thick" and takes some time for the centripital forces to move it around.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Bpeebles is correct.

    Mine engages at very low temperatures (winter) but releases by the time the transmission is in second gear, and it's always done that even on the one that Dodge replaced a couple of years ago.

    Best regards,
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    I posted a question on a 1990 Dodge Dakota under numbers 4288 and 4227, having to do with intermittent starting problems.

    Now I am beginning to suspect it has something to do with the Neutral Safety Switch. The pickup has an automatic transmission, and the gear shift lever is a little reluctant to move easily at times. My daughter has found that jiggling the lever back and forth around neutral seems to take care of the starting problem.

    If this is the problem, I am surprised that three garages didn't find it.
  • tjfitztjfitz Posts: 41
    Hope I'm not annoying people with my posts on the 1990 Dakota starting problem. However, I just found the below quote (edited by me) on the Internet, in connection with installation of a remote starting switch. It only refers to pre-1996 Dakotas with 2.5 liter engines, but my 3.9 liter engine 1990 Dodge Dakota certainly has its automatic transmission gear selector lever on the steering column, too, and I wonder if my pickup's Neutral Safety Switch is mechanically-combined with the gear selector lever somewhere on the column?

    "Some vehicles combine the column shift mechanism and the mechanical neutral safety switch into one mechanical part. According to available information, vehicles known to be manufactured this way are most General Motors trucks, sport utility vehicles and column shifting passenger vehicles. Available information also indicates that pre-1996 Dodge Dakota pickups with 2.5 liter motors are also manufactured this way."
  • dave392dave392 Posts: 1
    1990 dodge Dakota driving down the hwy and the engine just quits running no cough just dies, I find it has no spark checked the coil has 12v to it and 1.5 ohm across the terminal the cap and rotor look’s good
    At this point I’m stuck. I need some help on the next steps to take to go to from here.

    It cranks but wont start or run it has no spark it has no antitheift device, the Neutral Safety Switch is will keep it from cranking. but not keep the spark from happening from what I believe.
  • brophbroph Posts: 85
    I had the same problem with my 1990 dakota, riding at 65 in rush hour traffic when everything died. I was able to get it going again to get it home. Diagnosis was a new computer and distributor by a reputiple mechanic. Just a thought. I also had a Chevy Blazer that would crank but would not start, that also needed a distributor.
  • do you know what size bolt threads are or what size coil you use
  • Just to follow-up on the engine roaring noise. The repair shop took out the fan clutch they originally put in and put in a new one from Dodge and the noise has stopped! So I guess in this case you just have to pay an extra 60 bucks to have some silence.
  • missmaemissmae Posts: 1
    At about 5000 miles my dakota started shimmying when the breaks are applied. The dealer has replaces the breaks 3x's
    also fixing rotters,and replacing them.This last time they replaces my line because they said they thinned it out two many times.The shimmying always comes back about 4000-5000 miles after they fix them.
    this last time they fixed them,he said It still has the shimmying but will go away when the pads adjust to my roters.WILL this Shimmying ever go away????????????/ :confuse:
  • The 05/06 Dakota "shimmy-shimmy-shake" is a widely reported issue, with numerous dealers making many varied attempts to resolve the problem. I've yet to hear of anyone coming across the true solution to this issue.
  • sladeslade Posts: 3
    hey, mine just started to drag. no power off the line. it feels like the brakes are engaging a little bit. i take my foot off and it slows right down. anybody have a idea?
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    It has been mentiond many times in previous appends how to check to see if your brakes are dragging. It is a simple check you can do by just driving and then feeling for heat.

    Please review the archives for details.

    As for a "fix" for dragging front brakes.... replacement of the sticky caliper is the ONLY long-term fix. Anything else would be a temporary band-aid.

    For reference - My 2000 Dak had both front calipers start to stick within 3 months of each other. In both cases, I installed rebuilt caliper and have never had another issue with dragging brakes.
  • sladeslade Posts: 3
    thanks, i had hoped it was that simple.
  • How much did it cost to replace the speed sensor valve? I have the same problem.

    Auto Zone has a diagnostic tester that they lend to anyone who has I.D. The don't advertise this fact, but it is good to know.
    My '99 dakota has 70,000 miles and the speedometer went out, in turn the , the ABS light came on AND the red brake lamp. The problem turned out to be the speed sensor valve, mounted on the rear differential housing. What really sucks is that you might think you can do without the speedometer for awhile, but when the ABS light comes on,it's telling you that it automatically turned itself off. Better not slam on your breaks!
  • eharri3eharri3 Posts: 645
    In my opinion as long as you have factory brakes on there you are guarenteed to have problems. My buddy who used to work at a dealership swears DC can't design proper truck brakes if its life depended on it. He said his dealership actually started going to outside suppliers after repeatedly replacing factory brake components that just went bad again in another few thousand miles.

    On my 04 Dakota 4x4 Quad my first set warped, and warped BADLY, at just after 7500 miles of all highway driving. After fighting with my dealership to even get them to admit that there was a vibration problem they admitted that all four rotors were warped and replaced them with a new set for free. I was fine for 3-4 months, then that 2nd set started causing another steering wheel vibration when braking right after my 12000 mile goodwill brake replacement period was up. It started as a very minor shimmy so I tolerated it until 45 thousand miles when it got so bad that the whole truck would vibrate violently in hard braking and when you tried to talk while the brakes were applied your voice waivered like you were sitting in the middle of an earthquake. As of 1000 miles ago there is now a set of Raybestos rotors with Bendix titanium metallic II pads on the front and the truck is now 100% vibration free in all braking situations. This is the best the truck has ever felt in braking, with much better pedal feel. Finally feels like I have something that can stand up to a little abuse. It'll eventually get the same combo on the back.

    Gas and time repeatedly going back to the dealership can be cost prohibitive and the stress of having such problems with a new vehicle probably isn't worth it anymore even if you're getting goodwill replacements. And if you're no longer getting free replacements I definitely wouldn't let a dealership put factory brakes on the truck again. Whatever they did to fiddle with the brake lines won't help and the thing about the brakes seating with the pads eventually solving the vibration problems isn't true. They're lying to you just so you go away without raising an even bigger stink. Dodge Dakota rotors are utter garbage, plain and simple.

    IMHO, do some research on the net and get a consensus on good aftermarket rotor/pad combos for your truck. Mine works for me, but you may want something different. The important part is make sure none of it is mopar. Spend 100-150$ for good front pads and rotors and another 60$ for the labor and then enjoy problem-free braking for another 50-100,000 miles.

    They don't make them like the used to. My old 95 Ranger had the factory rotors on it when I traded with one resurfacing at 100K, and I beat the snot out of that truck. On the Dak if I would have kept getting factory brakes put on I'd probably literally need rotors with every oil change. The one good thing I can say is between rotor issues and wheel balance issues, I have gotten really good at 'seat of the pants' diagnosis of vibration problems.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    I second thaqt opionion..... the factory brake rotors are junk. Why waste your time having the dealership install the same junk?

    I went thru factory rotors and some expensive "powerslot" rotors too. This is what the powerslot looked like after 3 winters.

    Now, I have the Raybestos / Bendix rotors installed on my dakota. They have lasted TWICE as long as the factory or the "powerslot" rotors and are still going.

    I dont know about you .... but it is a big waste of my time to do a rinky-dink job on my brake system. In the long run it costs less and is safer to just install quality components and be done with it.
  • brophbroph Posts: 85
    I bought a quadcab about a month ago which did not have the rear window defroster option. I asked the dealer roughly how much one would cost, he said that the window itself was $650 plus, but mentioned about a stick-on one from a parts store. The option is only $160 from factory. Has anyone done something like this before? Running wire is a pain but could be done, it would really be nice to see out the rear window in the winter. Thanks for any input - Tom
This discussion has been closed.