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Old 09-09-2017, 12:40 AM
Anderson Knight Anderson Knight is offline
Dodge Dakota Forum Newcomer
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 1
Vehicle: 1996 Dodge Dakota SLT
Trim Level: SLT
Color: Blue
Engine: 1994-1996 - 3.9 L (238 cu in) Magnum V6, 175 hp (130 kW)
Rep Power: 0
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Default Front Suspension Rebuild

Hello Everyone, I am new to this whole forum thing. Thought i would give it a try as I'm doin some DIY suspension work on my 96 Dakota 2WD.

Ok so, Ill start by listing all the parts i know it needs:
- upper and lower control arm bushings
- upper and lower ball joints
- tie rod ends
- sway bar linkages (not sure if thats what you call them)
- struts

Ive got a little bit of experience with minor suspension work on other vehicles. I have watched a bunch of videos online, I've gathered all the necessary tools (i hope), I've got the Haynes manual, and I'm feeling buff. However, i have never used or worked with bushing and ball joint presses. is the lower easier/harder then the upper? Is this something that can be done semi efficiently? or should i save myself the frustration and just replace the whole control arm?

Also where is the best place to get the listed parts?? Online? or can i go to the auto store and get them?

Any ideas, advice, personal experiences, or sources of info is greatly appreciated!
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Old 09-09-2017, 02:10 AM
RalphP RalphP is online now
Dodge Dakota Forum Senior Member!
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 806
Vehicle: 1988 Dodge Dakota SE
Trim Level: SE
Color: Mostly Blue
Engine: 1987-1991 - 3.9 L (238 cu in) LA V6, 125 hp (93 kW)
Rep Power: 4
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I had to burn out the bushings on my 1988 (same design, I THINK same parts).

I also pushed in poly bushings upper and lower.

That said, the upper ball joint was ... "fun" (for Very Small Values Of) . It took two mechanics and a 1200 lb/ft impact wrench to pull it out (they're threaded in on my 1988.)

I'd consider the poly bushings; they firm it up, and will make it noisier, harsher, and add to vibration - BUT! My old rubber bushings were so old and so hard with age, the poly is SOFTER and QUIETER than what I replaced

Prothane sells some black ones that have graphite in the poly for a better lubed ride; I used Energy Suspension because I wasn't aware the Prothanes had the graphite at the time. Well, live and learn.

The ball joint press is not that hard to operate; it just takes grunt.

I'd do that BEFORE I pulled the control arms to get the shaft bushings; that way, any damage to a bushing is to the old one you're replacing anyway.

While it's apart, yes, do the shocks (HINT: No struts on this design! It's a short long arm with a coil spring and a shock absorber in the middle). And since the LCA is out anyway, I'd consider doing the upper and lower spring seats or isolators; I did those also, and that may have also helped tame the front end of The Beast.

The sway bar end links are pretty much generic; I also did Energy Suspension on those, and they've done fine.

I ALSO measured the diameter of my sway bar, and ordered the greaseable generic sway bar bushings for my front sway bar; keeping them lubed helps keep the poly squeak down.

Check the rack for tightness first; if the rack is sloppy or leaking any, I'd just replace it and get one with new inner tie rods before replacing the inners.

Caveat: I did an A1 Cardone rack first; it lasted about 25,000 miles or so, not even a year for me. I've put more than that on my RackDoctor rack assembly; it still feels like bran'new. (I also did poly bushings there; what can I say, I'm a bit of an odd duck at times.)

One last thing to check - your intermediate shaft. Mine was starting to fail, but they don't offer a replacement one for a 1988, so I ended up making one. I would like to my postings on another forum, but that's blocked here, so ... Google "Dodge dakota intermediate shaft RalphP" and see what pops out. *grins*

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