The Dodge Dakota first came onto the market back in 1986 and was marketed as a mid-size pickup truck. Until it was discontinued in 2011, it was a popular vehicle thanks to its reliability and size. This article will give you all the facts and figures about the Dodge Dakota, including the vehicle’s history, cylinder heads, and common problems that you may experience with this vehicle.
Introducing the Dodge Dakota
Also known as the Ram Dakota, the Dodge Dakota was first launched in 1986 with the 1987 model year. It was a popular vehicle for the brand until 2011, and was marketed under the Dodge brand until 2009, when it switched for its last two years to the Ram brand. One of the reasons that the vehicle was so popular upon its launch is that it was the first mid-size pickup truck with a V8 engine.
For people working with a tight budget, it was a very attractive solution for anyone looking for a pickup truck without breaking the bank. The quick acceleration and excellent handling really set it apart from other vehicles, which is why it remained on the market for many years.
The Three Generations of the Dodge Dakota
During its lifetime, the Dodge Dakota had three different generations of the vehicle, all of which had slight variations from the previous one. The first generation was around from 1987 to 1996 and offered three different body styles. There were four engine options on offer, and drivers could choose between automatic and manual transmission.
Moving on from this, the second generation was introduced in 1997, and remained on the market until 2004. This came as a 2-door or 4-door pickup truck, with four engine options.
Finally, we saw the third generation of the Dodge Dakota from 2005 until its retirement in 2011. With three engine options, this 4-door pickup truck was discontinued in 2011 due to the decline in the demand within the North American market for this type of vehicle.
Historical Sales Data for the Dodge Dakota
The Dodge Dakota started the early 1990s with average sales figures of around 80,000 units a year. By 1992, the vehicle had sold 132,057 units, and it generally held onto sales figures of around this for the next few years. The year 2000 was a record year for the Dodge Dakota, when the company shifted a whopping 177,395 units. Sadly, by 2006, sales really started to decline, dropping to just 10,690 units in 2009, which led to the vehicle’s retirement a couple of years later.
Common Issues with the Dodge Dakota
While the Dodge Dakota has many benefits for drivers, especially in terms of its affordability and handling, there were a fair few complaints about the vehicle during its time on the market. Engine problems and oil leaks were a common issue for drivers. Many owners of the Dodge Dakota also noticed brake lock-ups and unusual shaft noises, as well as upper ball joint failure. It was not unusual for the Dodge Dakota to have issues with the engine overheating and a loss of coolant, which caused a variety of challenges for drivers.
The Reliability of the Dodge Dakota
The Dodge Dakota received a reliability rating of 3.5 out of a maximum of 5.0 points. This rating comes at the lower end of the scale for this type of vehicle, due to the issues we’ve shared above. Each year, an owner of a Dodge Dakota will spend on average $622 on repairs, which is about average for this size of vehicle. The good news is that the severity of these issues and repairs is quite low, and it’s fairly unusual for owners of this vehicle to experience major issues and repairs.
Awards the Dodge Dakota Received
Although we’ve focused on some of the issues you may experience with the Dodge Dakota so far, there are many benefits of driving this vehicle. The Dodge Dakota was nominated in the year 2000 for the North American Truck of the Year award, which just goes to show how well it was regarded during this time period. While it didn’t win the award, this nomination was a testament to the vehicle’s popularity during this time, before the decrease in demand for the Dodge Dakota a few years later.
The Discontinuation of the Dodge Dakota
In 2011, the final unit for the Dodge Dakota came off the assembly line on August 23rd. After 25 years, the brand stopped manufacturing this vehicle, and it’s unlikely the company will ever bring anything similar back, at least according to the CEO of the company. This discontinuation is mainly due to a lack of interest in this type of vehicle within the North American market, as there are many other great options on offer today.
How to Replace Cylinder Heads on a Dodge Dakota
If you are still driving the Dodge Dakota today, then you might be wondering if you can replace the cylinder heads yourself. The good news is that there are some fantastic guides to this online, allowing you to have a go at tackling this project alone.
Take a look at this video for a step-by-step look at this project, or review this video for another approach to the challenge. As the replacement will usually set you back a fair bit of money, this repair is something that many vehicle owners are looking to try themselves in order to save on maintaining their Dodge Dakota. If you are looking to buy Dodge Dakota cylinder heads, then check out the links below:
DODGE JEEP DAKOTA 3.7 SOHC CYLINDER HEAD VAL&SPR ONLY LEFT SIDE NO CORE
DODGE JEEP DAKOTA 3.7 SOHC CYLINDER HEAD VAL&SPR ONLY RIGHT SIDE NO CORE 02-13
2 DODGE DAKOTA JEEP MOPAR 5.2 5.9 OHV 318 360 CYLINDER HEADS & GASKETS REMAN
2 DODGE DAKOTA JEEP MAGNUM WAGONEER 5.2 5.9 OHV 318 360 CYLINDER HEADS NO CORE
2 DODGE DAKOTA JEEP MAGNUM WAGONEER 5.2 5.9 OHV 318 360 V8 CYLINDER HEADS REMAN
CHRYSLER DODGE Dakota Ram DURANGO 3.9 OHV MAGNUM V6 CYLINDER HEAD 92-03 REMAN
1 CHRYSLER DODGE DAKOTA MAGNUM RAM 5.2 5.9 OHV 318 360 CYLINDER HEAD 92-04 REMAN
2 CHRYSLER DODGE Dakota Ram DURANGO 3.9 OHV MAGNUM V6 CYLINDER HEADS 92-03 REMAN
NEW CHRYSLER DODGE DAKOTA RAM 3.9 MAGNUM CYLINDER HEAD 92-02 BARE CAST NO CORE
NEW CHRYSLER DODGE DAKOTA MAGNUM RAM 5.2 5.9 OHV 318 360 CYLINDER HEAD 92-04
The Dodge Dakota is an excellent vehicle for many reasons, but as you can see, it had a fair few challenges during its life. If you are still driving this vehicle today, then you can take on the challenge of maintaining it yourself to extend its lifespan. While it was discontinued a fair few years ago now, it’s still fascinating to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of this vehicle, as well as the inspiration for this type of car during its launch. While the company has no plans for a similar vehicle to hit the market anytime soon, we know that the Dodge Dakota still offers fond memories for many past vehicle owners.
About Clearwater Cylinder Head, Inc.
Based in Clearwater, Florida, Clearwater Cylinder Head is one of the largest cylinder head remanufacturing plants in the United States. Our sole business is the rebuilding/exchange of automotive, marine, and truck cylinder heads in both foreign and domestic markets. You can view some of our 5-star customer reviews at:
We also sell brand new cylinder heads for popular models. If you are not sure which cylinder head is best for your Dakota, then give us a call at 1-800-572-1963. We would be happy to help you with cylinder head product selection and ordering over the phone.