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  • Dakota Talk

    Coming up time for another vehicle to bum around in. One of the ones I keep thinking about is a Dakota.

    So tell me past and current Dakota owners...... what's the skinny on them? Years that are the best? What to look for? What to stay away from?

    One thing I know for sure, it MUST be 4WD. I'd prefer a 4-dr short bed, but I'm not against extra cab and standard bed. 3.5's are ok? Small block more gooder? 360 Gooderest?

    This is a daily driver kinda thing and the hauling junk or parts will be somewhat minimal. Back and forth to work with jaunts an hour here and there to chase after parts, maybe a deal on a washing machine kinda thing. I don't intend on hauling a trailer, but if it's capable, I might think about it.

    School me, oh wise ones.

  • #2
    Here's some just from a 5 minute looksee in the local CL. No rhyme or reason to picking them other than "ok, that looks worthy while"... but that's why I started the thread. Maybe I'm looking at something that people here in the know would flinch at or see me throwing money away.

    http://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5685717105.html

    http://westernmass.craigslist.org/cto/5685695729.html

    http://newhaven.craigslist.org/cto/5647811198.html 10 years old and rotting to death. Am I to assume rust when buying a Dakota?

    http://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5685296112.html with a plow! Needs a new bed, tho.

    http://albany.craigslist.org/cto/5685256488.html I don't care about scratches and minor dents. The miles, tho? Hrmmm.

    Comment


    • #3
      I bought a loaded standard cab, short bed, 2wd, SLT, new in '99. I loved everything about it except that I couldn't load 48" wide sheets flat on the floor. I had a 318 automatic with OD that averaged 18mpg in mixed driving and got as high as 23 on lightly loaded trips. Nothing broke in 70,000, but the brake rotors needed turning when I traded it in 2004. From what I've heard and read, brakes and ball joints are the weakest points. I wish I could buy a new one just like the one I had, since a full size Ram is too big for my needs and wants.
      .
      Attached Files
      My book store: http://www.wings-press.com/

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      • #4
        All Dakotas up to 96 used Timken roller bearings in the front wheels but in 97, they went to the cartridge ball set up. The 87 is the first year and used a carb and the newer ones got TB injection until 91 on some models iirc. 92 got the beer barrel intake with port injection. The beer barrel gaskets can be a problem. ODB II came out in 96 which was the last year for the 1st gen design. The Dakota site called the round nose truck 2nd gen but the only differences on the body was the rounded noses, IE, the hood, bumper, grille, and core support was different and everything else is the same including the front fenders. The rounded front ends gave more room for the V8 setup. I like the next gen a lot but they got heavier and nothing much is the same as the first gen. Our 2000 Durango has been trouble free except for a couple of leaking freeze plugs.

        You want a fun truck? Get an RT. They 'only' weigh about 3900 lbs as a RC SWB. But the RC SWB 1st gens are around 3400 with a V8. Try to find a V8 powered truck as the V6 is slower by a full second or better plus gas mileage isn't much better than a 318. I had a 92 318 with 3.90 gears and never drove it for mileage but driving briskly in town it knocked down 15 mph. The worse it ever got driving it as hard as possible in town was 12 and that was driving it to the point that the tires chirped when taking off but not rolling smoke. Burn outs with that thing wasn't ever a problem. It ran 15.30 with 200 miles showing on the clock and had to go easy on the launch or go up in smoke. A 360 RT isn't much faster but they sure handle a lot better. Heck, the V6 1st gen handles better than the 318 1st gen does just because of the weight on the front end. My 92 had tons of under steer going into a hard turn but then went into tons of over steer with too much throttle lol. They do get a lot better with the 8" wide Durango/Dakota wheels and lower profile tires though.

        I like them myself....not hard to work on and it's a simple truck design. The 4x4's are a bit tougher to work on (1st gen) with their tight confines and torsion bar front suspension. Changing oil is even harder to do with those. Changing a starter is a bit hard too and can only imagine it being harder with the 4x4. The biggest drawback imo is the size of the regular cab on the 1st gen. I'm comfortable in my 95 with the seat all the way back but I'm only 5' 9" tall. I use it (abuse) for my gofer/yard cart and it works great for that plus it'll carry 1600 lbs even with the light duty suspension. That 1600 needs to be placed right though or it'll drive like crap. Heavier stuff towards the front of the bed. They are fairly cheap in my area. Heck, a guy gave me a 91 body that was in good shape but he died before I could get the title from him and his survivors didn't care to mess with it.....so I parted it out. It was the only Dakota I ever parted and it was surprising how easy it came apart.

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        • #5
          My son has an 04' Dakota four door four wheel drive. It has the 4.7 in it I believe. He is stationed in North Carolina at Bragg, where he bought it as well. He is starting to put money in it at 170,000 miles. Front hubs, brakes, parking brake hardware and the rear differential is starting to howl lightly. The bed has some slight surface rust inside it as well as starting to rust through above the rear wells. You can see a little on the bottoms of the doors and cab corners also. Aside from a bit of rust it seems to be a good vehicle for his eighty mile round trips to see his girlfriend every day. He does do some hauling and pulls a little trailer occasionally. He seems to really like it and I didn't mind riding around in it when we were there a couple of months ago.
          Shawn
          72 Demon 340 4 speed 3:91
          89 Dakota 408 727 4:10

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          • #6
            Soooooo.......

            http://newhaven.craigslist.org/cto/5683651548.html ... likely snag it for 2700ish?

            http://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5663129731.html ... here's one that's cheap. 8cly, hmmm???


            Am I on the right path?

            Sadly, not a lot of the "square nose" avail. Those that are, are either rotted or trans is bad, etc.

            Comment


            • #7
              I like the 03
              Shawn
              72 Demon 340 4 speed 3:91
              89 Dakota 408 727 4:10

              Comment


              • #8
                4 door means uselessly short bed..... I have had 5 Dakotas, the newest being a 94.... 90 longbed (while not between the wheel wells, I could haul a 4X8 sheet of plywood below the bed rails and with the tailgate shut) That's why they had the pockets for 2x6s in each bed sidewall even with the tops of the wheel wells.... set 3, 2x6s into those and put the 2X4s etc underneath and the sheets on top.
                I then had an 89 that I bought just to "flip" and sold for a whole $50 more than I had into it in parts/materials at the time. title transfer was single most expensive expense on that truck.... I rebuilt the trans, put in a windshield and a cheap aftermarket stereo and speakers in the cab corners... that truck cost me a job too, Sears does not sell used take off tires but they fired me for "stealing" a pair of them, even though they pay to have them hauled away.... since then (2001) I have not spent a penny at any Sears. Up til then I'd worked 13 years for them between 2 stores as a 2nd job and most of what I made in pay there I wound up spending right there.

                Then back to a couple full sized Dodge trucks and then a 94 V6, reg cab short bed Dakota. drove that a year then found my 93 Club cab. Bought with a dead trans and had a NV-3500 in the garage so I swapped in a 5 speed stick behind its 318. I drove that truck over 72K miles over a 4 year period til I wrecked it. bad. about 2 months ago. so now I have a 92 318 club cab that still has its 518 in it. Have put 6K on it in 2 months, took off in it for Branson Mo 3 days after I got it..... will be pulling my popup to Ohio with it in 3 weeks, since the 360 died in the Durango after almost 260K miles.... that is my current project, putting another 360 together for that. Part acquisition is going slower than I'd like, partly because of that wreck I had in May.

                I do like the looks of 97-04's, but NOT the 4 door trucks. I really like the club cabs.
                I can say that even with cheap gas today, as compared to when I 1st got the 93 swapped to a stick, I miss the 5 speed, the 92 is noticeably thirstier.... same size engine, 30K less miles than the 93 had when it was wrecked, same tires and computer that were taken off the '93, somehow every Dakota I have had so far has been 3.55 in the rear end.

                Even if my wife drives it, the 92 gets a best of 16-1/2 to a gallon.
                My 93 consistently got almost 20-with me driving that.
                dont seem to matter how I drove that (as long as I wasnt towing) that truck got me a "worst" of 18.
                I'd like to find a rust free 96-older 4X4. I have never owned anything but a Dodge.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by nonstick View Post
                  Soooooo.......

                  http://newhaven.craigslist.org/cto/5683651548.html ... likely snag it for 2700ish?

                  http://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5663129731.html ... here's one that's cheap. 8cly, hmmm???


                  Am I on the right path?

                  Sadly, not a lot of the "square nose" avail. Those that are, are either rotted or trans is bad, etc.
                  The V8 truck with 160k on it might sell for 1800...posted 22 days ago and updated 2 days ago. He probably lowered his price 2 days ago but high mileage small trucks do not command much and it would have to be pretty well kept for me to give 1800. And no, not many nice square noses are out there and when they do show up and are nice, they don't sit for long. At least not around here they don't. Missed out on one last year. It was an 87 for 2000 with 80k miles and it looked really nice in the pics. Thing about one being 25 or older, it doesn't have to pass emissions here anymore but the junk still has to be on it. On the 4x4....test drive it if you want a 4x4 but the extended cab puts it over 4000 lbs and the 4 wheel drive only adds more weight and unless it has 3.90 gears in it, that V6 is going to struggle and fuel mileage won't much much better than a V8.....that is if it is any better.

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                  • #10
                    added a 96 4X4 to my fleet, still have the 92... the 4X4 is also a 318 club cab, got with 165K and trans/Tcase in bed, I rebuilt and reinstalled, now at 170K miles.... 1st Dakota I have had with 3,91s and seems doggier than the 92 2wd with 3.55s, a little thirstier on gas while the 92 has seemed to improve in that department.... currently wife drives 4X4 daily, I drive 92.. I drive 70 miles a day, she drives 24.
                    and I don't drive the 92 easy... still don't like the 4 doors look silly and out of proportion.... even most full sized 4 door trucks but in a newer truck that is all I can find.... bah humbug

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