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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Looking for opinions on the Dodge Dakota PU

I am going to be in the market next year for a used mid sized truck to pull my car dolly and utility trailer/garden tractor around.
I am looking at the 1997 through 1999 V-8 and V-6 manual 5 speed Dakota Club Cabs and would like any thoughts on this truck from anybody that has or has had one.

Looking for the good or the bad.

Bob
 

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I have look at the Dodge Dakota's in the past and I would go for the V-8. The V-6 5 speed is a good truck but a bit of a slug and probably not that great in the towing end. Just not enough cubic inches or torque. The only problem for me in the Dakotas is my size. I couldn't get the seat back far enough for my height (6'6"). It is the same problem with my wifes Plymouth my knees keep hitting the steering wheel (ouch) I do not think it is a problem for someone who of normal statue but for me it is a deal killer. My brother has a Dakota and it is a excellent truck for the uses he has it for. It tows great up to almost 6,000 pounds and it does it well (just cannot beat the 5.2 liter or the 4.7 liter
V-8 engines) He has about 90,000 miles and all he has done is the normal maintenance on it (I know because I end up doing most it for him)
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks Michael and Too all that reply, the input I get here will be of great value in helping me decide between now and the time I have the cash to buy out right.

I have been watching the market for over a year now and have singled out the late 90's Dakota for a few reasons being Engine choices, Cab configuration choices, overall size and the shape relative to that overall size. I just need a bit more input (a heads up so to speak) on reliability issues that are being seen on this truck.

I am prepared to have to bring the truck back from a hard life of abuse (the dead) normal wear with out maintenance type issues, if I can get it at the right price and if it is in good shape other wise, normal interior and exterior wear. I am not afraid to work on anything on, in or under the truck, knowing it is used. This works to my advantage for I save thousands in labor costs that I can then turn around into the parts needed for the rebuild/repair of the truck.

Bob
 

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I've got a '91 with close to a 1/4 million miles on a V-6 with auto tranny. I know it is older than what you asked about, but it has been a reliable truck. Mine is the stretch cab with the back seat. I've overloaded with firewood a few times, carried several garden tractors in it, pulled a 6' x 10' utility trailer loaded up to over 2000 pounds a few times. It ain't pretty any more, but it still works. I would like a newer one, but the roof line and windshield changed in the mid '90s and now I'm too tall to see out the front. I've tried several models with different seats and my front view is nothing but sun visor unless I recline the seat back to an uncomfortable position. The only problems I've had are the rear ABS brakes have never really worked right. I'll wear out 3 or 4 sets of front brakes for each set of rears.
 

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My '91 Dakota

Here is a pic of my old Dodge:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's the same body style as my dads and he has had no issues with his either.

I spy one in the background of your photo ... There is just something about the shape of that model that catches my eye that’s looks to be either a Durango or a Dakota back there.. LOL
 

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The vehicle in the background belongs to my mom's rich neighbor (anyone that can buy a house for $450,000 and show up with 4 cars and a full dress Harley is rich by my definition).
 

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I have a 2000 4 door Dakota PU

The front disc brake rotors warped after 50K (but it an automatic) and the a/c evaporator developed pin holes at 78K.

The evaporator was $230 and replace myself it was a two day job. The dash was easily to take out and put back in.
The disc rotors I chose not to replace them, because it has not cause the truck to pull when stopping.
Those are my only problems after 98K

One thing worth noting
It has been rear ended six times (none my fault) at an average price of $2950 in repairs for about a 7-10 mph accident. Each driver was using Framer Insurance (I was hoping they would give up and buy me a new truck!) I will never buy a dark green car or truck again especially a Pinto!

It was nicknamed the the "Green Moron Magnetic"
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Wingnut

I can deal with the rotor issue by going to a better after market rotor, maybe vented to help control heat in the rotor.

Sounds like a brake bias issue with the front disks taking a major part of the stopping load.

Thanks for the heads up on the A/C issue you have had I put it in the list I am making.

So far I have

Ball Joints
Automatic transmission
A/C coil on the 2000
Front brake bias is unbalanced heavy to the front on the 2000.
And the Green one is a Moron magnet

So from what you say it is good that the V-8 manual dual pipes nice and clean ..... Green one, I was looking at will be gone by the time I have my money....LOL.

And something I do not like, the new Murray type bug eyed headlights they’re putting on them this year.
 

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muray -- I am using my 2nd dakota -- I owned a 98 and now a 2004 -- 98 had v6 , 3.92 axle ration auto tranny-- 4x4 heavy duty suspension the 2004 has 4.7L v8, 3.55 axle ratio and auto tranny, 4x4 also-- they both got almost same gas mileage [ different axles ratios is what did it] v8 is about 10% better -- both are as quick as you can ask for nealry 4200 lb 4 whel drive - extended cab on both - split bench seat -- [ lousy seats] on the 98 I went thru under extended warrenty -- 4 sets of lower ball joints in 75K miles 2 sets upper -- 2 sets rear drums , one wheel cylinder , alternator - timing chain set transfer case leaks - tranny leaks around friont seal [ I had tranny dealer serviced every year] over 18K$ dollars in under warrenty repairs -- ball joints on 97-2003 are weak and steering is slow -- fuel pump failed at 58k miles on 98 and, 3 were replaced in less than 30 days with 2004 due to whining - althogh it never failed -- I got about 15mpg city for v6 and 18mpg hiway -- v8 with 3.55 is 15 city and almost 20 at very best hiway -- I use it 5 hours a day in severe stop and go delivering tha mail - stop about 600 times a day in less than 50 miles - so gas mpg is going to be lousy regardless -- truck was/is best size . shape for me-- quality is not the best -- truck was expensive -- 25K$ for 98 and 32k$ for 2004 in first month they were out , now they are about 20K4 new for a 2004 -- brakea er ok exhaust was NOT a problem -- alot of small things went wrong frequently-- bigl22-- I have towed at no faster than 50mph with both trucks -- 98 pulled a saturn sedan 150 miles on trolley and got 16mpg [ overdrive turned off] almsot same with 2004
 

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Discussion Starter #11
bigl22

thank you for the most detailed report from a user I have read yet, this is a big help.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks to all you folks, I can now make an informed inspection of this brand/model truck.

And you may have saved a life, for I do not see a dealer putting out "OH! And by the way, these trucks have a problem that can cause the front wheels to come off at any speed." Nope I don’t see that happening.

For a person looking for a little hotrod hauler this Dakota has the best power to weight ratio of any thing out there and with a little aftermarket help can be made into a nice safe truck.

Thanks again to all
 

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Originally posted by Michael
I have look at the Dodge Dakota's in the past and I would go for the V-8. The V-6 5 speed is a good truck but a bit of a slug and probably not that great in the towing end.
given the choice of 8 or 6 Cylinder... I would opt for 8. Ive had 2 fords 150's both 6 Cylinder.. both dogs - no pickup
that dakota is pretty big.. id go with the extra power

i think they are great looking trucks
 

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oh yeah Murray I almost forgot -- there is a dodge dakota forum -- hundreds of members and both looks and technical questions and answers -- it is mostly younger men , intent on speed and looks , but there are many depts. to it and many links-- I used to go there quite abit -- dodgedakota.com if i remember correctly good luck -- and when you replace the ball joints do not use dodge parts -- go with reliable aftermarket brand-- bigl22
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
simple_john
That’s what I am looking at the V-8's with manual tranny, although my Dodge Dynasty 3.3L MPI V-6 FWD automatic will put me back in the seat and get a second on concrete.

Thanks

bigl22
Done been over there, scanning over the posts lots of good info buried over there.

I will be going with Moog ball Joints both upper and lower, even if they have already been replaced unless they have been replace with Moog's, that way I will know for sure there fixed.

Thanks for all your advice and help on this subject.
 

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As for the break wear... I have seen this in a lot of small trucks. The rears seem senstive to load. Probably set the bias mid way to compasate for no load/full load. People who use the trucks hard, seem to have more balanced brake wear.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I agree

Performance brake system parts on the front should solve the problem of rotor warping. Even brake wear is another animal.

I understand fully what you are talking about now that you have pointed it out. And an adjustable proportioning valve I was thinking of adding, will not help in this situation only weight in the rear to add down force to the rear tire contact patch would help to even the brake bias. With the truck unloaded in the rear, the rear anti lock system will be more active putting more of the stopping load on the front. Putting more weight in the rear would increase tire contact patch down force making the rear tires harder to lockup letting the anti lock brake system apply more stopping force to the rear brakes.

Thanks for pointing it out, it helps me greatly to be able to understand why something takes place so I can devise a work around, like adding weights in the bed over the rear axle that can be removed if I want the truck to be lighter on its feet.
 
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