2005+ 3rd Gen RWD to 4x4 Conv. -- Chassis Differences? - DODGE DAKOTA FORUM - FORUM AND OWNERS CLUB!
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Old 10-03-2019, 06:51 PM
jlcramer54 jlcramer54 is offline
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Question 2005+ 3rd Gen RWD to 4x4 Conv. -- Chassis Differences?

Hey Everyone!

I am new to Dodge Dakotas, I just picked one up a few months ago. Its a 3rd Gen 2007 ST, RWD, Club Cab, V6 with 6-Speed Getrag.

SO, I might be crazy but I am just toying with ideas right now, but information on these is hard to find. I am thinking of doing a RWD to 4x4 Conversion on mine. I know it will be easier and probably more cost effective to just trade in and buy the 4x4... BUT... mine is really clean and it has the Manual transmission in it which is hard to find in a 4x4 without being rusted to high heaven. If it is clean, I have to get it to WI or pay more than double the price (I shopped for MONTHS for mine). Also, I didn't expect it but I already have a huge sentimental attachment to this truck, its great!

On the 1st and 2nd Gen, I know the frames and front ends are different between 4x4 and RWD, but on the third gen I keep finding snippets saying "new common front end" that share many 4x4 and RWD components... is this true? Does anyone know how common the front ends are?? It sounds like it could possibly be an "easy" swap without tons of custom metal work. I know there will need to be some.

I know the rear of the trans needs to be changed for transfer case but I am not afraid of that...many options. I would probably go with a manual T-Case from a Jeep here. My main question is about the front end and drive line.

My end goal in mind is a cool, V8 4x4 Manual Dakota that isn't rusted to hell!

Thanks!
Jon
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:14 AM
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oldmarine oldmarine is offline
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Reading through the 2005 FSM (3rd generation), and checking the front suspension parts on RockAuto, it appears that there is a lot of commonality between the 2WD and 4x4 models. They both use struts (which the FSM insists on calling shock absorbers with coil springs) and it appears the control arms, spindles, tie rods, and ball joints are the same. The hubs differ to accomodate the axle shaft on the 4x4. The engine mounts are different between 2WD and 4x4 as the front differential is bolted to the engine mount. There are also different part numbers for the (manual) transmission mounts between 2WD and 4x4.

Overall, it looks do-able. Certainly much easier than it would be with a 1st or 2nd generation Dakota (if it can be done at all!).
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Old 10-04-2019, 02:48 PM
RalphP RalphP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmarine View Post
They both use struts (which the FSM insists on calling shock absorbers with coil springs) and it appears the control arms, spindles, tie rods, and ball joints are the same.
Actually, oldmarine, they ARE coil over shocks; they are not MacPherson struts, and are only called that because marketting droids do the parts books, not technicians.

RwP
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Old 10-04-2019, 03:11 PM
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Thanks Ralph. One of my goals in life is to learn something every day. Today it came early!
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Old 10-04-2019, 04:39 PM
jlcramer54 jlcramer54 is offline
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Thanks Fellas! I appreciate it. Oldmarine (sounds like my dad lol) thanks for taking the time to look all that up... I was planning on going through and doing that exact exercise and make a spreadsheet right now but you saved me the trouble.

That is really cool, after reading about 1st and 2nd Gen Dakotas I was a bit discouraged there but now I am excited as I might actually pursue this. It's all going to be down to how much I can get the front drive parts and the T-case. My poor wife is going to have to listen to me now.

Yeah they do look like legitimate coil overs in there, thanks for clarifying that too Ralph.

Cheers,
Jon
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:37 AM
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Sorry, I'm a little late to this conversation, but you said it yourself; it will be much easier and definately more cost effective to trade in the Dakota and buy a 4x4.

The reasons are simple, When you factor in the cost for all the parts you'll need (even if you buy a donor truck to do this swap) and all the down time, you'd be way ahead to look for a 4x4 model. Even if your area lacks rust free trucks, you would still be ahead if you had to travel to the other side of the country, to pick up a rust free truck.

IMO there are better 4x4s out there and it's sad to have to admit, because I absolutely love the Dakota. Unfortunately the front drivetrain isn't very durable. The differential is weaker aluminum, the half shafts are twiggy and the wheel bearings are junk.

The only way to make a Dakota 4x4 durable is to scrap the entire front drivetrain and do a solid axle swap.

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Old 11-13-2019, 04:50 PM
jlcramer54 jlcramer54 is offline
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Hey Ed! Thanks for chiming in. I have done a ton more research on the topic, and I'm finding out a lot about what you're saying. If the 4x4 system was actually tough, and had more aftermarket support i think i would do it. But... I think you're right in that all that effort can be spent elsewhere.

Too bad the Dakota doesn't have a bigger aftermarket and support base, this is one of my favorite trucks I've had! I figured when i bought it, the base would be huge because its been around forever. I struggle to find even basic parts for it.
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Old 12-11-2019, 10:17 PM
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Yeah I have to agree, unfortunately there isn't much aftermarket support for the Dakota, or Dakota specific. However there is a large aftermarket support for Dodge trucks in general and 4x4s in general. So when I decided to "upgrade" my Dakota, I did take on the challenge and did a solid axle swap and a Cummins swap. In the end I spent a bunch of money and could have bought another platform to work on, but then again, I now have something unique.

Ed
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