Dodge Dakota

Tagged with:
Auto Defects > Dodge

July 2000

Dear Chrysler Owner:

Thank you for contacting the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) about your Dakota or Durango. The most common complaints on these vehicles include stalling, transmission woes, paint peeling, and brake failures.

The Dakota has been a trouble prone truck since Chrysler introduced it in 1987 to compete with Chevy's S-10 and Ford's Ranger pickups. The Dakota was redesigned in 1997 but has improved to only average. Introduced in 1998, the Durango is a Sport Utility Vehicle based on the Dakota. As other SUV manufacturers move toward less truck like SUVs, the Durango was outmoded when introduced. The Dakota outperforms the Durango on government crash tests.

Various transmission troubles, stalling, oil leaks, broken rear springs, unexplained rear end noise, and power steering leaks are just a few of the Dakota's defects. Many owners also experience unexplainable noises from their differentials at normal operating speeds. Chrysler has issued many Technical Service Bulletins (TSB's) and "driveability" kits in an attempt to cure stalling, surging and hesitation. Chrysler notified dealers but not owners about these problems. CAS has listed many of the major TSBs in the enclosed Fact Sheet which tells you how to find any other TSBs on your vehicle.

Another common complaint on the Dakota is paint that peels off in large flakes like a bad sunburn. This is particularly common on 1987-93 models with blue, silver and gray paint. CAS has urged Chrysler officials to extend coverage for this and other factory paint defects to 6 years and unlimited mileage which is the same as GM adopted at CAS' urging.

Chrysler advertised the 1998-99 Dodge Dakota R/T’s towing capacity to be 6,400 pounds but later revised it to 2,000 pounds. Only after a class action law suit was filed in California, did Chrysler offer to buy the vehicles back or replace them. Alternatively, Chrysler offered $500 worth of MOPAR accessories, or a 5-year/60,000 mile extended warranty.

You'll find more information on these and other Chrysler truck and SUV below and what you can do about them plus a complaint box. Your information will help us build a strong case against Chrysler on the defects we know about and help us spot new ones.

We need you to support the Center for Auto Safety in our fight for consumer rights and against poorly designed and unsafe cars. Your contribution is tax-deductible and entitles your to our quarterly newsletter, Lemon Times. Please submit the membership form along with your contribution and complaint. If you contribute $35 or more, we will send you the current edition of The Ultimate Car Book, by Jack Gillis. Every home should have this invaluable consumer guide.


Clarence M. Ditlow
Executive Director

See reverse side on how to obtain Technical Service Bulletins listed in brackets below.

Body/PaintInfo on wind noise, water leaks or bad paint, go to Chrysler Paint.

Brakes/Suspension: Water in ABS warning lamp 1989-91 Dakota (05-01-91); Front disc brake noise 1991-92 Dakota (05-11-92); Front brake "drift" 1991-94 Dakota (05-15-94A), 1991-95 Dakota 4x2 (05-03-95); Stabilizer bar contacts frame 1987-90 Dakota (02-04-90); Front brake grind or growl 1998-99 Durango (05-05-98).

Electrical:CD player inoperative 1997 Dakota (08-27-97A); Remote keyless entry discharges 1997-98 Dakota, 1998 Durango (08-39-97); Various intermittent electrical failure 1996 Dakota (08-21-96).

Engine/Driveability: Corroded O2 sensor 1989 Dakota (18-26-90); Cold/no start 1989 Dakota (18-34-90); Oil leak @ transfer case 1990 Dakota (21-21-90); Oil leaks 1992 3.9/5.2L Dakota (21-07-92); No start 1992 Dakota (18-04-92), 1994-97 Dakota (08-21-97); Erratic Idle/stall & Surging 1992 Dakota (18-15-92), (18-16-92); Erratic idle, stalling 1992-94 Dakota with 3.9/5.2/5.9L (18-16-94); Rear main oil seal leak 1996 Dakota w2.5/4.0L (09-04-96); Timing chain noise 1990-97 Dakota with 3.9L (09-7-97); Erroneous malfunction indicator light (MIL) & driveability problems 1996 Dakota (18-03-97), 1997-98 Dakota (18-26-96, 18-10-98); Idle fluctuation after cold start 1997 Dakota (18-13-97); Misfire with no MIL 1998 Dakota (18-26-97A); Knock during moderate to heavy acceleration 1998 Dakota/Durango with 5.2L (18-34-97); Cold sag/hesitation 1994-95 Dakota with 3.9/5.2L (18-21-97), 1998 Dakota/Durango with 5.2L (18-35-97); Idle shake, sag or hesitation 1996 Dakota (18-31-96); Outer exhaust manifold studs break 1996-99 Dakota with 2.5L (11-07-98A); Light spark knock 1996-97 Dakota (18-24-98); Spark knock, misfire, surge @ 45mph in 4th with 3.9, 5.2, 5.9L 1994-99 Dakota, 1998-99 Durango (18-48-98); Engine overheats 1998-99 Durango (07-07-98).

Steering:Clunk in steering wheel/column 1997-98 Dakota, 1998 Durango (19-12-97); Steering column click when gear selector operated 1998 All (19-02-98A).

Transmission: Gear clash 1986-87 Dakota (06-01-88); Manual trans. slips 1987-89 Dakota (21-11-89); Harsh engagement (auto) 1988-89 Dakota (21-26-89, 21-13-90); Overdrive clutch repeat failure 1988-90 Dakota (21-01-90); Noisy 3-4 upshifts 1988-91 Dakota (21-11-91); Loose mainshaft bearing plate 1992 Dakota (21-12-92); Delayed upshifts 1992-93 Dakota (21-18-92); Delayed engagement 1990-94 Dakota (21-08-94); Driveline clunk, harshness (4spd auto) Dakota (21-18-94); Delayed upshift (4spd auto) 1992-94 Dakota (21-19-94); No overdrive below -5 degrees F 1996 Dakota (21-06-97A); Buzz on shift into Reverse 1996 Dakota (21-11-97); Failure below -15 degrees F 1989-93 Dakota (21-01-96); Manual gear rattle in neutral 1996 Dakota with 2.5L (21-03-96).

Other: Check valve freezes up 1989 Dakota (24-06-89); Rear shoulder belt retrofits 1987-90 Dakota (2-09-90); Belt turning loop falls off 1992 Dakota (23-17-92); Faulty speedometer 1989-91 Dakota (08-10-91); Faulty fuel gauge 1991 Dakota (08-11-91); Lubricant seep from rear axle speed sensor 1995 Dakota (03-01-95); W/S wiper squeak 1997 Dakota (08-5-97); Loud popping during turns 1997-98 Dakota (23-65-97); Popping noise from A-pillar 1996 Dakota (23-26-96); Rear tie down bracket bolt rust 1997-99 Dakota (23-50-98); Propshaft boot torn 1997-98 Dakota (03-04-98); W/S wiper grind or creak 1997-98 Dakota, 1998 Durango (08-29-98); Center armrest cover broken 1997-98 Dakota, 1998 Durango (23-24-98); Left front leather seat cover chaffed 1998-99 Durango (23-51-98); Knock from engine compartment 1998 All (25-01-98).

Copies of recalls may be from NHTSA's Technical Reference Division at 202-366-2768.

Brakes: Right front hose wears thru - 38,000 1991 Dakota (91V-200); Park brake fails to hold - 3,948 1987 Dakota (86V-115); Check valve undersized - 30,000 1993 Dakota with ABS (93V-082); Booster hose loosens - 600 1996 Dakota (95V-199); Brake loss - 7,500 1998 Dakota with ABS (97V-170); Rear tube hole - 99,000 1999 Durango (99V-341).

Fires: Engine oil leak - 10,000+ 1989-90 Dakota (89V-237); Fuel hose damage - 3,500 1991 Automatic Dakota (90V-176); Fails 30-mph Crash - 26,600 1987-90 Dakota (90V-124); Fuel tank straps come loose - 9,000 1994 Dakota (94V-005), 150,000 1998-99 Durango (99V-342); Generator cable clamp arcs - 37,900 1998 Durango (98V-019).

Suspension: Upper control armfailure - 1,500 1994 Dakota (94V-043).

Other: Keys on key ring lodge in steering wheel access holes - 100,000+ 1994 Dakota (94V-145 & 95V-088); Park gear fails to hold - 3,500 1988 Dakota (87V-194); Steering wheel comes loose - 40,000+ 1991Dakota (95V-089); Unexpected acceleration - 34,000 1987 Dakota (87V-050); Wheels separate - 1,700 1988 Dakota (88V-074); Frame cracks at steering gear - 140,000 1988-90 Dakota (96V-094); Airbag deploys when ignition turned off - 10,000+ 1997 Dakota (97V-080); Transmission fails to hold in Park - 123,000 1991-92 Dakota (00V-106); Cab separates from frame - 5,000+ 1998 Dakota (98V-208).


  grey Line