Dodge Dakota Info Sheet.


Original: 1/18/95 Modified: 11/17/95 (denoted by *)
*Document History:

* This document was originally designed to be nothing more than a spec
* sheet. Soon after I finished that portion, I added a few notes about
* things I found interesting about my truck. These sections, along with
* a history of my modifications now make a major part of this document.

* This will be the final posting of the Info Sheet. All the information
* contained within is being transfered to a Dakota FAQ.

* Since I do not have all the specs on all models of Dakotas, I am now
* asking for any and all owners, mechanics, and fans to submit all the
* little tidbits of knowledge you have.

My own history:

I own a 1994 Dakota SLT with the V8 and the manual transmission. She is currently a regular cab shortbed with P235's. All my impressions are based mainly on this style, but here is all the info I can find in my various reference material. Beware, some dates may be off due to mid- year changes.

I've upgraded to 31x9.50R-15 SuperSwampers in May. Got a Rhino Coat bedliner in August.

* On November 15, 1995 I retired the Swampers in favor of a more street
* friendly tire. Why? The hum and poor handling just became a pain on
* long trips, and with the miles I'm going to run this winter to and from
* ski resorts, I wanted something friendlier. Off came the Swampers and
* the stock rims, and on went a set of 15x7 American Racing aluminum rims
* and a set of 31x10.50-15 Mickey Thompson Baja Belted HPs. Fit great with
* no change in the torsion bars and the ride is fantastic on the road.
* Off-road and snow trials will occur early in December.

87 - 96 (10 Years in the making)
The Dakota was introduced in late 1986 as a 1987 model. It was a new idea in light trucks. Something a little bigger than the compacts, but not so large as a full-size, the first mid-size pick-up became a reality. Only problem, nobody noticed, or cared.

Sales were low, and the truck didn't offer much in power, looks, or ability which was not surpassed by other offerings of the time. It came with a choice of a carbureted 2.2 liter L4, or 3.9 V6.

Dodge held on to the model unchanged for two years, and then in 1989 Dodge added the extended cab, a Shelby performance edition, and a true convertible. The TBI V8 in the Shelby was popular, but it wasn't available in the extended version and didn't offer much over the V6. The convertible sold slowly in the south, but basically nothing changed. The 4 cylinder engine was stroked to the current 2.5 liters and both it and the V6 gained a TBI system.

1990 lost the convertible and the Shelby V8. In 1991, the V8 became available again across the line, but still turned poor numbers.

1992 was the first year of the Magnum engines. These V6 and V8 engines are multiport injected and produce much better performance than the TBI engines. The truck became a success, finally offering the true benefits of the mid-size vehicle.

1996 has added a clutch interlock to the starter so you can't start the truck while in gear. Damn Lawyers!

Things have stayed fairly constant since. Look for a complete redo of the Dakota in 1999 to look more like the new Ram and use a coil spring suspension rather than the torsion bars on the 4x4.

1987 - 1988
2.2 Liter (136 cid) L4 w/Holley 6520
3.9 Liter (239 cid) V6 w/Holley 6280
2.5 Liter (151 cid) L4 w/TPI same as 2.2 except longer stroke
3.9 Liter (239 cid) V6 w/TPI
5.2 Liter (318 cid) V8 w/TPI Shelby package only 153 HP
2.5 Liter (151 cid) L4 w/TPI
3.9 Liter (239 cid) V6 w/TPI
2.5 Liter (151 cid) L4 w/TPI
3.9 Liter (239 cid) V6 w/TPI
5.2 Liter (318 cid) V8 w/TPI 157 HP
1992 - 1996
2.5 Liter (151 cid) L4 w/TPI
3.9 Liter (239 cid) V6 w/MPI
5.2 Liter (318 cid) V8 w/MPI up to 223 HP


Many of these transmissions are serving in other places in the Jeep, Dodge, and other Chrysler lines.


The Dakota has come with any of the following autos. (all are of the same case style, just slight differences)

A-998 Three speed V6 only
A-500 Four speed w/OD V6 only 2.74 1st, 0.69 OD
42RH Four speed w/OD
46RH Four speed w/OD only V8 rated auto

1988 - 1991 I have no information, ID is on driver's side below shift tower.

1992 - 1993
L4 and V6 AX-15 5-speed
V8 No Manual trans offered.

1994 - 1996
L4 and V6 AX-15 5-speed
V8 NV3500 5-speed
Ratios: 1st 4.01
2ond 2.32
3rd 1.40
4th 1.00
5th 0.73
REV 3.55

Transfer Case

NP207 Low range ratio 2.72:1
1988 - 1996
NP231 Low range ratio 2.72:1
The Haynes manual also refers to a model NP241, but no other info can be found, may be misprint.

Axles / Suspension

Front : IFS 7.25" torsion bar supported. (4x2 coil springs)
Some models use central axle disconnect similar to
Wrangler, others have no disconnect system. No model
uses any type of locking hub. Beware of front shock
spacing, its tight.

Rear : 7.25" (4x2 w/I4 and V6) 8.25 (all others)
Both are sprung by leaf packs over the axle. (4x2 is
sprung under the axle)

L4 and V6 7.25 and 8.25 used
V8 Chrysler 8.25" HD.

* Lock Right has a Locker for the 8.25 axle.

Ratios: Dakotas came with 3.21, 3.55, or 3.90. The 3.90 is an option on all. 3.21 std on V6 and V8 3.55 std on L4, optional on V6 and V8.

Standard Dimentions as published by Dodge (1991 - 1996) on std tires.
Pre-'91 have slightly smaller dimentions as nose was extended for Magnum

                Wheelbase       Length          Width           Height

Regular Short   112"            189.1"          69.4            65.0"

Regular Long    124"            207.5"          69.4"           65.0"

Club Cab        131"            208.1"          69.4            65.6"

Pickup Box      Length    Width     Depth     Tailgate     Wheel house

Regular Short   6.5'      59.6"     17.5"     58.5"        45.0"

Regular Long    8.0'      59.6"     17.5"     58.5"        45.0"

Club Cab        6.5'      59.6"     17.5"     58.5"        45.0"

Ground Clearance        4x2                      4x4
                   Front   Rear             Front   Rear

Regular Short      7.5"    6.5"             6.8"    6.3"

Regular Long       7.5"    6.5"             6.8"    6.3"

Club Cab           7.5"    6.5"             7.4"    6.9"

Angles            Approach           Departure          Breakover
                 4x2    4x4         4x2    4x4         4x2    4x4

Regular Short    28.6   35.5        12.1   15.7        15.0   15.4

Regular Long     28.5   35.2        10.7   13.8        13.3   13.8

Club Cab         28.5   35.2        15.7   15.7        13.1   13.1


Standard on 4x2 is P195/75R15
Standard on 4x4 is P205/75R15

P215/75R15 + 0.3" in GC over std 4x4.
P235/75R15 + 0.9" in GC over std 4x4.
Will fit:
30x9.50R15 + ~2" in GC over std 4x4.
31x9.50r-15 + ~2.5" in GC over std 4x4. (NO RUB!!!)
31x10.5R15 + ~2.5" in GC over std 4x4. (may rub a little)
I am running a SuperSwamper Radial 31x9.50 on the stock 6" rims with absolutely NO clearance problems.

* Running Micky Thompson Baja Belted HPs 31x10.50 on American Racing
* 15x7 rims. These do not make contact either, but the MT is only
* 30.2" tall. A more accurate 31" tire will likely rub as mine do come
* awful close.


1987 - 1990 used the 5 on 4.5" bolt pattern, later models use the real
hard to find 6 on 4.5" pattern. The number and types of aftermarket
rims is limited but rising. Have only seen 15x7 and 15x8.5.
There is also a 15x10 rim now available.
* Rim selection is growing like crazy lately. There are many choices
* now from all the major builders.
* Pre '91 owners have a wide variety of rims available as the bolt pattern
* used is the same as many compact pickups and SUVs on the market today.

I have driven my truck for 12,500 miles in the first 8 months. During that time, I've drawn up the following impressions. Over all, the truck is a great vehicle. The V8 offers far more power than the truck can apply to the ground when empty. With the standard transmission, chirping and even smoking tires into fourth gear isn't hard. Off road, the low 42:1 low range first gear ratio make for easy climbs and very slow ground speed. The overdrive allows highway speeds of 65 while turning a nice 2000 RPM.

The low axle gear combined with the low first gear in the transmission makes the gear almost useless. I tend to start in second often. The only time I use first is to start on hills, or when I need to move off the line quickly. First gear redline comes pretty quick.

All isn't perfect. The radio (a pricey Infinity system) is junk. I can't wait to get rid of it. The tape deck stopped working two weeks ago. The radio audio drops out and back in while sitting still.

The Michelin tires are horrible. At 40psi the sidewalls still roll too much and contribute to rather unsteady cornering. At 30psi, their street holding ability is still poor, allowing lockup at hard braking, and difficult acceleration from a stop. Much of this can be due to the V8, but still, a better tire is needed.

The ride is smooth, the hood seems to levitate over the road with little or no notice of the bumps in the road. The rear then gives a nice solid kick. Speed bumps are kind of interesting, the front wheels move over smoothly, and then the rear seems to leap off the road.

The throttle works well with so much power on tap. The first inches on the gas produce little change in rpm, but as the halfway point is reached, the increase is more pronounced. This allows for easy engine control over rough ground as the foot bouncing causes little engine speed change.

After driving Jeeps for the past 6 years, driving such a quiet and well sealed vehicle can be quite a learning experience. Cross winds on the highway seem to sneak up on you. Oh well, I guess I'll get used to talking to my passengers at normal tones, and will stop doing 85mph because of the lack of road feel.

Sept 9, 1995

Now at 25,000 the truck still runs like new. The new 31" tires do not affect the power much at all. In fact, they have tamed the engine a little on the line. Perhaps I'm getting used to the truck, or the softer rubber is gripping better, but I'm just not spinning these tires much. 0-60 times have increased by about a 1/4 second, but I think that has more to do with the larger tire than anything.

Rhino Coat bedliner is way cool! Nothing slides around anymore. Should be an OEM because the life of the bed will be almost infinite now!!

Got to tow this summer, hauled my sailboat around. It only weighs about 800 lbs, but you'd never know it was on the back from the way the truck handles. I'm getting a tow bar soon, cause the bumper is a little high for the small trailer I have. It will reduce my off-road departure angle a little, but I need a better rear hook anyway.

* November 17, 1995

* The truck is over 28,000 miles now. The new Mickey Thompson's are a
* wonderful addition, the ride is better than stock. I can't wait to see
* how they perform in the rough stuff. Wet traction is fantastic, and on
* the dry pavement, they hold like slicks.

* A few problems have come up. I had trouble with the transfer case not
* wanting to shift at all. It turned out to be some corrosion on the
* shift linkage, and with some grease and a little work, it is back to its
* smooth operation.

* All of a sudden the cold cranking time has shot way up. I have a
* dealer lined up to look at it over the Thanksgiving week. I am also
* having the dealer check into a creaking noise that only occurs when a
* passenger is in the truck. I can't find the cause, but it seems to be
* suspention related.

* The seal on the rear of the transfer case at the slip yoke is leaking
* again, this is the second one. The seals are cheap at the dealer (<$20)
* and replacement is a fairly simple job. (I did it during my lunch hour
* in the parking lot at work)

* It is getting near time for another tune-up at 30,000 miles, but there
* is no sign of wear in engine performance. With the exception of that
* pesky cold start issue, I have had no trouble with the engine. And, with
* the exception of lube on the transfer case linkage and the rear seal, the
* drivetrain has given no trouble. Basicly, no major failures.


Watch the Axle Breathers, they only extend to the top of the frame. Why can't Truck companies add an extra foot and a clip higher on the body? Extensions are easy, be sure to reuse the filters.

Best addition to increase MPG is to get a bed cover of some type. After I added mine, along with a K&N air filter, I now get 19 - 21 MPG with a V8! (17ish with the new damn fuel.)

* Average mileage for the summer months was back to 19+. I expect a
* slight increase due to the more street friendly rubber this winter.
* The summer increase was probably due to a change to all Synthetic
* fluids in the gear boxes and axles.

* The NV3500 Transmission uses a fluid only listed as a part number
* in the Mopar manuals. With several calls to Detroit and talking with
* several engineers at Dodge, I found that this fluid is just a high
* quality motor oil. they could give me no reason why a good synthetic
* wouldn't work and said it sould be OK. I took the gamble and changed
* the fluid to Castrol Syntec 5w-50 like I run in the engine, and it has
* worked like a charm. I have a Mobile 1 ATF in the transfer case and
* Valvoline Synthetic 75w-120 in the axles. The thump when you let off
* the gas and the drivetrain reverses its load is much less with the
* thicker and better quality synthetics.

No tow hooks are available from the factory. I added one on each side of the frame in front. To allow access, I cut off the outer sections of the lower air dam. To plan the cuts, mark the back of the plastic air dam while on the truck. This mark can be judged from the bumper bracket. Then remove the dam. Position standard tow hooks on the front frame horns with the hook curving out to the sides. Strap clips are required in this position. Drill holes so that front hole is at least one inch from end of frame horn. Bolt on hooks and replace air dam.

* Several people have added high quality brush guards which have places
* for tow hooks.

Rear hooks are harder. You will need to allow the strap to rub on the bumper, so cover the sharp edges of the bumper with an old vaccume hose split down one side and then fitted over the edge. A little silicone will hold it in place. Now, you can mount hooks using the existing bumper mount holes. Hope to replace step bumper with a piece of pipe by summer.

* Didn't get the pipe bumper as I couldn't find a pipe I liked. The
* stock one is holding up well. It has been dragged over the ground,
* backed into trees and even bumped by a Jeep. It has yet to rust on
* the outside.

Mounting a 2 way radio requires the removal of the ash tray. There is really no other place to put the unit. The ash tray bracket can be modified to act as a radio mount, just do a lot of test fitting before you cut or drill. Watch the transfer case shifter for clearance.

The new one-hander CB radios fit nice under the dash bolted to the metal support for the steering wheel. I then ran the mike cord up by the heater and hang it just under the dash on the driver's right knee pad. I used the radio antenna for the CB with the $15 JC Whitney "hidden CB antenna" adapter. Works great!

I found that if you remove the stock jack, the jack storage area can hold almost all the tools you will need on the trail. Yes, I had to leave the torque wrench home. What about a jack? Bolt a Hi-Lift to one side of the bed (inside) using Pop-Nuts. also fits the new Alpine CD changer!!!

Available Lifts

3" available for V6 models only. V8 requires some funky rework of hoses.


Trail Master offers 4". Requires Offset wheels w/ bolt plate to tire restricted to 3.75". Pushes tire way outside wheelwell. Also requires cutting of one frame crossmember. Kit replaces with stronger one, but return to stock is impossible.

* Cranking Torsion Bars.

* Although major cranking will shorten the life of the CV joint and
* be harsh on the road, mild lifting in the 1/2" - 1" range have proven
* to work OK for several people.

Keeper of the info sheet:

Christopher Siano


Christopher Siano    |   Work Sucks...  I'm going
CSiano@Banyan.com    |   Camping, Mountain Biking
                     |   Sailing, Snowboarding, Wheeling.    

Click here for the original ASCII version.
Go Back to the DML Home Page
Jon N. Steiger / jon@dakota-truck.net