Dodge Dakota Years to Avoid (Best and Worst Years Explained!)

Dodge Dakota is a reliable mid-size truck that was manufactured by Dodge’s Chrysler Ram division. Dodge Dakota is an excellent vehicle for carrying and towing, and it is also reasonably priced and gets good gas mileage.

Chrysler started manufacturing in 1987 and kept going until it was stopped in 2011. If you are looking for a great mid-size pickup, the Dodge Dakota might be on your list.

Dodge Dakota is well loved by both users and car enthusiasts. But like with any other car, Dodge Dakota’s different model years have distinct downsides that are worth keeping away from!

In this article, we will break down the various Dodge Dakota years to avoid, common issues, longevity, reliability years and transmission of dodge Dakota but first, let’s discuss reliability.

Read More > Dodge Durango Problems and Solutions.

What Are Common Problems With Dodge Dakota?

Despite being a dependable little pickup truck, the Dodge Dakota nonetheless has several issues. Most of the top complaints for various model years are listed below:

01. Transitional steering shaft noises

Intermediate steering shaft of Dodge Dakota (2006 version) has received numerous complaints from unhappy owners. According to them, their truck would swerve unevenly as opposed to smoothly.

With this version, its steering wheel might clank or snap when stopping, turning, or going over bumps. Even the steering wheel occasionally had too much play. Also, those intermediate shaft may require total replacement to address this issue.

02. Damaged bolts on the exhaust manifold

Users of the Dodge Dakota 2006 version claim that strange noises coming from its exhaust manifold upon starting up. These are common for some vehicles in this model year. Mostly the colder weather of the year was when these ticking sounds were frequently heard.

In addition to an illuminated control engine light and an engine stall, this sign may also be present. Their exhaust system bolts were found to be highly rusted or entirely broken upon closer scrutiny.

02. Failing the upper ball joint

Failure of the upper ball joint is one of the most prevalent issues with the 2003 Dodge Dakota. When turning their car, many owners have reported hearing rattling noises and jolts coming from the front driver’s side.

Upon closer inspection, they found that the grease in their upper & lower ball joints was leaking. In addition to making strange noises, worn or damaged ball joints can make the steering feel clumsy.

A 2003 Dakota may experience upper ball joint failure because of moisture damage. Dodge has not yet issued a recall for its other model years, but it has for its 2000–2001 cars to resolve upper ball joint failure.

03. Locked-Up Brake Cylinders

Users of the Dodge Dakota 2002 claim that some of these vehicles frequently experience brake cylinder issues. Their car would pull to the side as their front brakes might overheat and lock up randomly. They occasionally also observed smoke coming from the front tires because of hot and fractured brake pads.

Other drivers replaced their’s twisted rotors, brake lines, and calipers in addition to their brake pads. Although there are several complaints about this specific issue, Dodge has not conducted a recall to fix it.

04. Coolant loss and excessive engine heat

Some of the most typical 2001 Dodge Dakota issues are coolant leakage and engine overheating. Many customers claim that their pickup vehicle experienced antifreeze leaks that frequently caused the engine to overheat, even in cool weather.

As their engine started to overheat, they would hear a banging noise and see steam rising from their grille. Gaskets surrounding the thermostat casing, water pump, inlet manifold, and the timing cover are frequently the source of coolant leaks. To solve this problem, the repairs required can be covered by your truck’s warranty.

05. Engine issues

Numerous 1999 Dodge Dakota customers complained about a range of engine issues with their vehicles. Some people complained that their truck would abruptly cut off while they were traveling or when it grew heated. Sometimes, after cooling down, the car would start and run.

These things frequently occurred without prior notice. They discovered that the reduced engine performance of their vehicle was caused by intermittent contact with the crank system control wire connector after having it inspected by the dealer.

06. Oil spills

Owners of the 1997 Dodge Dakotas claim that some of these vehicles frequently leak oil. Dodge Dakota`s valve cover, air handling unit, distributor O-ring, timing cover, and rear main seal are frequently the sites of leaks.

While repairing the gasket might stop the leak, using luminous engine oil dye should help locate it.

Which Dodge Dakota Years to Avoid?

Over the years, several Dodge Dakota models shone out, but there are other Dodge Dakota years you need to avoid if you must be sure, you receive the most value for your money when buying a secondhand car.

Dodge Dakota years you need to avoid include: 2000, 2002, 2005, and 2006.

Dodge Dakota is having some of its worst years ever right now. Dodge Dakota had a string of poor years for a few reasons. We will examine some of the significant problems with the truck that affected consumers’ ability to drive. You can make better decisions if you are more informed.

What Makes These Years’ Worth Avoiding?

These years are better avoided for a few reasons. These issues are those that would either put your car in danger or make the car expensive to fix, according to consumer complaints about the automobiles mentioned above.

Below are some of the main factors that make these years worthwhile to avoid, according to

Dodge Dakota has received the most complaints overall, according to this list.

Let us examine each of these difficulties in more depth, identifying the most significant problems within each group and providing you with an overview of the Dodge Dakota’s experiences with each.

01. Engine issues

Among the most common problems that arose in Dodge Dakota models was engine problems. Numerous complaints in this area were filed over the years about the 2000 and 206 models.

Issues with engines include:

  • Oil sludge-related oil pressure loss
  • Variable idle
  • Repeated cylinder misfires

These are just a few of the numerous engine problems that the Dodge Dakota had. Avoid these versions at all costs if you do not like shelling out hundreds of dollars for engine maintenance.

By choosing to purchase an alternative Dodge Dakota model, you may easily escape the problems that a defective engine can cause in your life.

02. Brake problems

Another problem that plagues some Dodge Dakota models is brake problems. Again, the brakes on the 2002 Dodge Dakota are by far its biggest problem, making it the weakest of the Dodge Dakota models. They were reported to be problematic by nearly 69 people.

Specific braking issues include the following:

  • Locked brake cylinders
  • Smoking hot brakes
  • Locked brake cylinders

None of these are appealing to drivers today or when they were drivers back then. If you do not want to have issues with the brakes, stay away from the 2002 and 2005 models.

When you buy a pickup truck such as Dodge Dakota, you anticipate that the braking system will always function effectively. Make sure to select a model year with a strong braking system. You will save money and drive safely if you make this decision.

03. Body and paint issues

Dodge Dakota 2020 body and paint were common complaints. Customers have complained about the roof’s clear coating oxidizing and the wheel wells rusting.

Dodge Dakota 2020 will not keep your car looking good. With nearly 30 paint and body complaints, this is a Dodge Dakota year to avoid.

What is The Best Year for Dodge Dakota?

We have discussed the which Dodge Dakota models should avoid and how to go about it. Now let`s look at which ones are secure for driving?

Below are some of the best years for the Dodge Dakota which includes: 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Dodge Dakota – 2009:

 For anyone looking for a pickup truck that drives like a monster

on the highway, the 2009 Dodge Dakota model is a fantastic option.

  • Maximum fuel efficiency is 15 miles per gallon, which is good. Interior of this model exudes luxury.
  • A lot of folks appreciate the fact that the maker included heated leather seats.

Dodge Dakota – 2010:

One of the final Dodge Dakota models was the 2010 model. This model was incredibly popular.

  • Dodge Dakota`s V6 engine allows it to tow 5000 pounds with ease.
  • Contrary to that, the V8 model might raise that to 7200. That is very amazing.
  • Dodge Dakota is safe because it has ABS and airbags.

Dodge Dakota – 2011:

Dodge Dakota 2011 has many improvements over earlier models.

  • With the V8 engine under the hood, it is a powerhouse.
  • Dodge Dakota`s manufacturer also provided a top-notch audio and navigation system.
  • Dodge Dakota 2011 was placed worst due to its interior’s lack of premium materials and lack of an electronic stability aid.

Are Dodge Dakotas Reliable a truck?

If you are looking for a dependable pickup truck, you will not be wrong by picking a Dodge Dakota. From innovative safety features and exceptional fuel efficiency to fantastic steering and outstanding engine performance, each of those model years has something wonderful to offer.

Dodge Dakota has a 3.5 out of 5.0 reliability rating, placing it fifth out of seven midsize trucks. Dodge Dakota resale valuation is also good, declining only by 12 percent over five years.

In terms of reliability ratings for the Dodge Dakota, it is above average, with certain model years performing better than others. They received a 3.5 out of 5.0 rating from RepairPal, placing it 19th/32 compact trucks in its classification. Dodge Dakota received a 4.4/5.0 rating on

In the meantime, US News and World Report gave the Dodge Dakota 2010 an 8.6/10 rating, placing it second among the top 10 compact mid-size trucks of 2010.

Are Dodge Dakota Transmissions More Reliable Than Others?

Early in 1960, we saw the release of the A727 (Torque-Command) and the TorqueFlite Chrysler A904 gearboxes.

Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep added them to automobiles, trucks, vans, and race cars to make them impregnable. These transmissions have lasted 40 years with slight changes.

They were problem-free and reliable. TorqueFlite is a powerful Dodge/Chrysler gearbox.

Studebaker, International Harvester, American Motors, etc. used it. Chrysler introduced 46RH/46RE and A518 in the 80s. These transmissions were modified from the A-series. Fourth overdrive gear was introduced.

Since Chrysler started utilizing computers in the valve body, these transmissions are not hydraulic. They are reliable and well-built, like the A727. 1990s Dodge and Chrysler debuted the A604 gearbox.

This was Dodge/worst Chrysler’s transmission. They were used in cars, SUVs, and minivans from 1990 to 2010.

Light-duty transmissions often failed on vehicles with over 100,000 miles, but sometimes significantly fewer. Transmissions were mounted longitudinally and transversely.

This transmission was used in four-cylinder cars and all-wheel-drive minivans (41TE, 41AE, and 40TE).

ZF makes Chrysler’s 8- and 9-speed automatics. Beautiful and reliable. They are more effective than Dodge/prior Chrysler’s transmissions and can handle high horsepower and torque. ZF 8HP transmissions often last over 150,000 miles without major problems.

If you have transmission troubles, visit a car dealer for a checkup to repair the issue or replace your transmission. Depending on your truck’s features, replacement costs can vary.

You will need a transmission pricing and labor cost estimates tool to calculate the replacement cost of your Dodge truck.

Dodge Dakota: How Long Will It Last?

That is a very acceptable question to ask whether you are looking to buy a new or used Dakota.

If the Dodge Dakota receives the required maintenance and servicing, it can last for 200K miles or more. Some makes and models have longer lifelines and can obediently serve you for more than 240,000 miles.

Dakotas with automatic gearboxes, however, are challenging to drive. However, the manual gearbox models can attain high mileage with regular brake maintenance, change the oil, tire pressure inspections, and fluid top-offs.

Top FAQs

What is the Dodge Dakota`s engine lifespan?

Dodge Dakota has a strong engine that can run for almost 300,000 miles. You can extend the lifespan of Dakota’s engine with regular maintenance. Additionally, the starter, transmission, or alternator are frequently problematic. These issues hardly ever occur with the current engine.

What is the battery life of a Dodge Dakota?

All Dodge Dakota`s battery has a 60,000-mile lifespan on average. That suggests that they would work for you for up to five years. Dodge Dakota battery, however, could degrade much earlier than 4 years if the battery leads have persistent corrosion problems.

Is maintaining a Dodge Dakota expensive?

Dodge Dakota`s maintenance costs are lower than those for a typical mid-size vehicle. Dakota owners only had to pay $622 per year, compared to the average of $652.

Dodge Dakota 2007 trucks require the least amount of maintenance ($484) compared to other Dodge Dakota models.

Dodge Dakota manufacturer’s later models cost $518, $523, and $614 to maintain. These models were manufactured in the years 2008, 2009, and 2010.

Final Thoughts

There is intact, a lot that goes into the topic of Dodge Dakota years to avoid. But be prepared to accept both the positives and any potential negatives if you are considering purchasing a Dodge Dakota.

Purchasing this small pickup truck should be quite risk-free if you are aware of the usual problems with the exact model year you choose to purchase. Before purchasing your used Dodge Dakota, you may make sure the seller has resolved all issues by conducting some research.