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Discussion Starter #1
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! :D

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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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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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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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Discussion Starter #9
Hey Ed,

I've read some of your stuff in other posts and your truck sounds cool... well done. What axle did you put in your truck? How did you weld it in? Some pictures would be cool.

I also am slowly coming back in line with doing this again. Since I am finally getting financially cleaned up (not easy for a sub 30's millennial with wife+3 kids), I just get really peeved when I look at used truck (or any vehicle) prices or condition. I don't want to finance or wait 10 years to spend like $20k on a 10 year old truck to get a 4x4....the more I look the more it makes me just want to cut mine up and build it how I want.

one thing I learned is that my Getrag 238 transmission itself is a unicorn.... especially in a 4x4 config. However.... through hours of research I learned that a Dakota NV3500 will bolt up to the engine as well, and shifter is pretty close to the same location (like 2.5" rearward?) and most of the electronic controls are in the ABS system or rear diff. So.... I may continue down this path and get a stock 4x4 system to start with out of a parts truck. The 6-speed is cool and all, but I'm okay putting an old American 5-speed transmission back in there. I like the Dakota for its American content and AMC heritage (I'm from southeast WI).

The things that may throw me for a loop will be drive shafts... and crossmount but i will find some way to make them work. Im planning on getting it all to fit in the Donor truck first.

Anyone know for sure what the difference in shifter-to-bell housing length is on the NV3500?
Anyone selling an NV3500 or a parts truck for cheap? :D

Thanks!
Jon
 

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Hey Ed,

I've read some of your stuff in other posts and your truck sounds cool... well done. What axle did you put in your truck? How did you weld it in? Some pictures would be cool.
I installed a Dana 60 front axle from a 98 Ram 3500, and a Dana 70 rear axle, I had. I didn't do the welding myself. I don't have welding skills and this wasn't the place to learn, so I hired someone to do that part of the job.

I have a ton of pics on Imgur and I have a build thread on another forum, but I don't know if the rules here allows me to post the link of other forums here. You could try searching my username

I also am slowly coming back in line with doing this again. Since I am finally getting financially cleaned up (not easy for a sub 30's millennial with wife+3 kids), I just get really peeved when I look at used truck (or any vehicle) prices or condition. I don't want to finance or wait 10 years to spend like $20k on a 10 year old truck to get a 4x4….the more I look the more it makes me just want to cut mine up and build it how I want.
Its sort of the way I thought… With how much I spent, I could have bought a nice used truck, but then it wouldn't come with the hardware I put in the Dakota.

one thing I learned is that my Getrag 238 transmission itself is a unicorn…. especially in a 4x4 config. However.... through hours of research I learned that a Dakota NV3500 will bolt up to the engine as well, and shifter is pretty close to the same location (like 2.5" rearward?) and most of the electronic controls are in the ABS system or rear diff. So.... I may continue down this path and get a stock 4x4 system to start with out of a parts truck. The 6-speed is cool and all, but I'm okay putting an old American 5-speed transmission back in there. I like the Dakota for its American content and AMC heritage (I'm from southeast WI).

The things that may throw me for a loop will be drive shafts... and crossmount but i will find some way to make them work. Im planning on getting it all to fit in the Donor truck first.

Anyone know for sure what the difference in shifter-to-bell housing length is on the NV3500?
Anyone selling an NV3500 or a parts truck for cheap? :D

Thanks!
Jon
You could make any trans work, but you'd be better off with a trans/t-case combo, since it's always a PIA to take a 2wd trans and convert it to 4wd.

Driveshafts are easy to deal with. A competent shop can build them.

The NV3500 was an option for some Dakotas, so it should work.

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey Ed,

That all sounds good to me. I will try to find your truck online, it sounds super cool. I have delusion of grandeur of doing the same stuff. I for sure want to do something with the rear diff. Yesterday my RWD, open diff made me look bad in the snow.

I've been reading about NV3500's for hours now... I think I have a fairly decent plan. I for sure will go a 4x4 instead of converting it. At first, I wanted to do that with the G238 but once I started looking for the parts it was a complete no-go. No shafts, no cases, special obsolete seals, no way... I'm not worried about the drive shafts either. I'm planning on making sure everything fits in the parts truck before I cut mine up.

If I pull the trigger, I will keep everyone updated.

Cheers,
Jon
 
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