I bought this truck out of a mud hole. It had slick tires a cracked windshield and a dented back bumper. That was 5 years ago and I fixed everything on it. I have never had a single problem out of this truck. I have 175k on it now and it has been the best truck I have ever owned. And I will be 60 years old soon. If you run mobile one synthetic oil with a k/n filter these 4.7 liter engines will last a long time.
2005 Dodge Dakota 4dr Club Cab ST 4WD SB (3.7L 6cyl 4A)
I got this truck dirt cheap from a relative's estate for $300. It started right up after sitting a year, and didn't smoke or tick, and the 4x4 worked. I knew the service history of the truck, he had put a new front end in it (struts, bearings, ball joints, tie rods) and a new transmission, and always changed oil- so figured mechanically it was ok. it had 142,000 miles but relatively easy miles. he had owned it for 10 years. it needed quarter panels and bed painted, and grill/headlight, and interior cleaned- but other than that my first impression was, it's all cosmetics- that mechanically it was sound. and boy was I wrong. these trucks are inferior metal and rust out very easily. I had the rear quarters replaced/painted and found 4 Dodge mags, and put them on- the truck looked great. but the first night my kid took it out, it blew a trans line and leaked all the fluid out, and had to be towed home. ok- I replaced both lines with high pressure rubber, and refilled trans- back on road. well then I had it out one day and after climbing a local road that is a long winding mountain, a few miles later it developed a miss and stalled. had it towed home again- it had a BROKEN VALVE SPRING in the engine, drivers side last cylinder. I changed that myself ($3 part, $50 special tool, and 3 days in driveway in cold weather) and it ran again fine. I put new 4-tip spark plugs and Amsoil synthetic oil/filter for good measure. ok no more engine problems. shortly thereafter I was hauling 6 rims/tires in the bed and heard a crack/thud- unloaded the wheels at destination, looked under bed, the right rear leaf spring eye had broken off the shackle, first time I ever saw the spring itself break at that point- usually it's the shackle. checked the other side, that one has the front spring eye cracked in half. so it needs new leaf springs, and rear shackles. ($400 in parts plus labor). I pulled the emergency brake release one day, it snapped off in my hand, had to epoxy glue it back together. the radio in this truck can't pick up hardly any stations, and the CD player while ok sounding, acts up sometimes. the seats are very comfortable for a truck, and in 4x4 mode it will go anywhere. I also like the 4wd on the fly, just turn the knob, no hubs to lock. problem- it has a 3.92 rear axle ration, and weighs 4500 lbs.- and only gets 14-15 mpg daily driving. I checked it repeatedly. you MUST run premium fuel in this engine, or it runs like crap. the valve springs are only single springs, not double or triple like other makes, so they have the tendency to wear or break. you can't beat on this truck, the engine will break. it does always start, it rides nice for a 4x4. oh BTW this also needs upper/lower ball joints- again- even though my relative put them in new not too long ago. he did have a tie rod break on his once on the way to my house, I had to go pick him up, and get the truck towed. I talked to Dodge mechanics, they said these trucks eat front end parts. I bought 4 upper/lower ball joints and front struts too, going to do it all in one shot along with the back springs/shackles. so now it's banging on nearly $3000 in this truck including insurance, title, repairs- and if I had to do it over again, I never would have bought it. something told me don't buy a Chrysler, cuz they are the lowest quality American car made- I've been a GM guy for 40 years- but I have owned a few Ford and Chevy 4x4's and 2WD trucks, and one International 1 ton 2WD- and this Dodge is the worst for reliability. one more thing, from sitting the brake lines rotted out, but I knew that ahead of time, and had them replaced first thing- the lines under the master cylinder. and the tailgate hinges are rotted out, only the top latches hold the gate on. so if you are considering a Dodge Dakota, look all these factors over closely first, and if you do buy, don't pay more than $500 or so. unless it was garage kept with 60,000 miles or less. these trucks don't run forever like a Chevy or Ford.
BEST FEATURES: low price, rides nice for a truck, 4x4 on the fly no locking hubs, comfortable seats WORST FEATURES: terrible gas mileage, frequent mechanical breakdowns over 100,000 miles- construction quality spotty due to inferior metallurgy and parts, cheap to buy but expensive to repair and keep running
The body and paint are still attractive. The V 6 is adequately powerful and overall gas mileage has consistently been 18/ gal in mixed driving. Ride has always been a bit rough with stiff suspension and interior road noise with my basic no frills version would be found noisy, but I’m quite pleased with it. Nothing fancy about passenger compartment. My transmission was rebuilt at 170,000. If it hadn’t had a busted fluid line that made it run low on fluid, I believe it would still be fine. Air Conditioner has never required Freon, or compressor replacement which amazing. My previous Dakota was similarly reliable. Of course I use it mostly as a commuter vehicle and rarely as a work horse. It’s now 13 yrs old and if they still made Dakotas, I would give them another look. If you want a mid sized pickup, you might have to go to Chevrolet. The Honda is a dream but pricey