Dodge Dakota experiences?
July 29, 2013 10:21 PM   Subscribe

We're looking at buying a used Dodge Dakota, probably early 2000s, V6. Does anyone have any information on them?

Dakotas seem to sell for half of what Tacomas and Frontiers go for. Most of the reviews seem positive but there aren't enough to have a valid statistical sample, and everyone around here seems to drive Tacomas.

Are Dakota V6es sturdy and reliable? Okay to drive? How hard are they to fix, if you're pretty good at fixing things? The ones we keep finding in our price range are from 2001-2004.
posted by boilermonster to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My husband drove a 2003 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab (not sure of exact model details), sold it, and then when it came time to buy another truck went with a 2006 Dodge Dakota SLR. Basically when we went car shopping we only looked at Dakotas.

The 2003 was driven to/from Alaska from the East Coast several times and generally driven hard, and held up quite well. The 2006 feels kind of.. bouncy? and I read online that that's a somewhat common issue in that model year. It's also possible that it just needs a good tire alignment.

They're both quad cabs, which I find a bit big for my taste, but they handle well and have some zip when accelerating. Fuel economy is ok. I think the cab is poorly designed (cupholders aren't placed well, our center console sticks so it's almost useless, no dual zone climate control) but I'm also fairly picky.

Dodge stopped producing the Dakota in 2009, but we've never run into parts issues-- I understand that the chassis is the same as other Dodge models (Durango, maybe? I don't know) and that a lot of the parts are in common. It's also a fairly common vehicle up here in Alaska. Tacomas are, however, a heck of a lot more common.
posted by charmcityblues at 12:34 AM on July 30, 2013

Best answer: Decent engine and transmission, by all reports. A friend of mine has a 2002 Dakota V6, and has had good luck with it. But he went through the whole cooling system last year, replacing the water pump, thermostat, radiator, radiator pressure cap, hoses, and heater hoses when he got a leak in the radiator, followed a few weeks later by leakage from the water pump. Probably not a bad preventative maintenance procedure on a 12 year old truck with nearly 160,000 miles on it. Other than that, I think he's put a couple batteries in it, a couple sets of tires, and maybe a starter, plus the occasional set of spark plugs, and filters, oil, etc.
posted by paulsc at 1:28 AM on July 30, 2013

I bought a 2004 Dakota in September of '04 and drove it up until May of this year. 132,00 miles and change. Replaced the battery, tires, spark plugs, and brake pads, but that was largely it.

I gave it to my niece as she is about to get her license and it just made the drive from Tennessee to Colorado without a hiccup. If they still produced it I would have purchased another in a heart beat.
posted by skrymir at 3:59 AM on July 30, 2013

Best answer: I've owned 3 Dakotas now, an '02 extended cab, an '05 extended cab, and currently an '04 quad cab, and have had no significant complaints about any of them. (And am fairly disappointed at reading charmcityblues' note that Dodge has stopped producing them, as my intent was to drive this one into the ground and buy another in 8 years or so.) They've all been good reliable vehicles; and in general have not been bad to work on if you're handy at doing doing mechanical things. I like the size of them compared to some of the smaller pickups; they're a good midpoint between a small and a full-size pickup. As a big guy, I find the seats to be pretty comfortable for distances.

On the repair front, I've not had to do any repairs over about $250 on any of them - replacing a warped exhaust manifold on the current one was probably the most expensive thing. (I paid someone to do that one.) It seems to be a relatively common problem, but is fairly innocuous, just causes the engine to be noisy. I also had to replace the front drive shaft due to a poorly-designed CV joint, but that was only about $85 in parts and a couple hours in labor, and the replacement had a U-joint instead of a CV. As someone else mentioned, parts have never been a problem, because it's the same chassis as a Durango, and between the two there are a lot of them out there.

One thing to note is that there are several different finish levels of Dakota, and the ride and drive experience is going to be significantly different for some of them. (i.e. the Sport and SXT are going to be higher off the ground and bouncier than the SLT, I believe.)
posted by jferg at 5:26 AM on July 30, 2013

No personal experience with truck ownership, but:

1. The Chicken Tax makes the price of USA produced small trucks artificially lower than imports.

2. Older Toyotas have a reputation for extreme durability which makes their resale value high relative to the original cost. This Top Gear episode convinced me.
posted by scose at 5:58 AM on July 30, 2013

I had a 2000 Dakota, the only problem that I had with it was the paint on the top of the cab started to degrade about '05.
posted by Brent Parker at 7:55 AM on July 30, 2013

They're killers.

See page 12 of Are SUVs Really Safer Than Cars?. They're rolling pitchfolks - see page 15.
posted by at at 10:17 PM on July 30, 2013

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