Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
8/14/13 11:52 a.m.

What's the scoop on these? I'm talking engine/drivetrain (especially transmission) reliability.

Here's my story:
-I don't want to spend a lot of time working on it
-This is for camping with the family and eventually towing a small camper (~4k lbs)
-I want/need a four door and v8
-They are just the right size for my needs- full size trucks just feel too big for me

I can get them for around $5k with about 150k fairly commonly with what I want:
http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/3995420631.html

Am I an idiot? Are the transmissions going to E36 M3 on me right away? How much is a rebuilt going to cost me? It is hard to find a manual 4x with the 4.7, but they occasionally pop up for a premium.

itsarebuild
itsarebuild HalfDork
8/14/13 12:14 p.m.

Add bigger radiator, ditch the clutch drive fan, and add a seperate trans cooler if you are towing anything that large

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory HalfDork
8/14/13 12:16 p.m.

This may help...

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/2003-durango/17562/page1/

http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/expedition-vs-suburban-vs-durango/67034/page1/

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
8/14/13 12:25 p.m.

Look out for rust. I'm going through my entire braking system on my '97 now because I've popped two lines recently. Rusty brake lines are very common on these.

Also, other things to look for are bad front suspension components, especially the ball joints. The aftermarket (like Moog) has better solutions for this.

Otherwise, they are good trucks. To me, they are the perfect size, too. The 318 is a dependable motor, but if you are going to get a 4-door, you are limited (I think) to the AWD auto/4.7L V8. If well cared for, they should be fine. They get a bad reputation usually due to the lack of maintenance.

A friend of mine has a 4 door with the 4.7 and it's been a good truck. That truck replaced a 2003 that he bought new that had a regular cab/ 4.7/5-speed, and he had it until last year with no major issues. He totalled it and got a 4-door instead of finding another rare combo like he had before.

Vigo
Vigo UberDork
8/14/13 1:11 p.m.
but if you are going to get a 4-door, you are limited (I think) to the AWD auto/4.7L V8.

They dont have to be 4wd. I've seen them in 2wd.

In fact, one of my best dakota experiences was borrowing a 2wd quad cab 4.7/auto dakota to go get some gas for a generator. I loved every second of that drive. I honestly think a 4.7/quad cab/2wd dakota is a REALLY GOOD vehicle.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
8/14/13 1:12 p.m.
ebonyandivory wrote: This may help... http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/2003-durango/17562/page1/ http://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/expedition-vs-suburban-vs-durango/67034/page1/

Thanks- I keep hearing anecdotes about glass transmissions, but no one who actually has one of these has mentioned in any Dakota thread about their failed trans. Am I missing something? I googled dakota transmission failure, and there actually weren't that many firsthand accounts. Don't know if this is similar to the WRX transmission OMG FA!L thing, or is real in some way (I have an '02 WRX with the "glass" transmission, and it has been trouble-free for 115k so far).

I didn't think to cross-shop the Durango for drivetrain info. I'll do some more work on that.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
8/14/13 1:13 p.m.
Vigo wrote:
but if you are going to get a 4-door, you are limited (I think) to the AWD auto/4.7L V8.
They dont have to be 4wd. I've seen them in 2wd. In fact, one of my best dakota experiences was borrowing a 2wd quad cab 4.7/auto dakota to go get some gas for a generator. I loved every second of that drive. I honestly think a 4.7/quad cab/2wd dakota is a REALLY GOOD vehicle.

Is the 4.7 quad cab 4wd Dakota bad?

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
8/14/13 1:14 p.m.

Here is another option, although not really a full four door, and a bit bigger than I really want/need:

http://smd.craigslist.org/cto/3993971058.html

Powar
Powar Dork
8/14/13 1:18 p.m.

The Silverado will be a better vehicle in every perceptible way.

Teh E36 M3
Teh E36 M3 Dork
8/14/13 1:23 p.m.

Ha ha... I was afraid someone (everyone) would say that. I like the idea of the Dak better because I think it's better looking, more "right" sized, and has the full four door. My idea was to drive the drivetrain until it died, then buy a 5.3/4l60e and swap. Then I thought, well, that's stupid, because you can get a chevy with all that E36 M3 stock for about the same price as the original (probably crappy) Dakota.

itsarebuild
itsarebuild HalfDork
8/14/13 2:12 p.m.

My info is from a 5.2 Durango. I haven't had a trans issue yet and I've towed a bobcat on an equipment trailer and flat towed my e30 multiple times. They aren't glass. But they are I adequately cooled for lots of heavy trailer/ hill climbing action.

motomoron
motomoron Dork
8/14/13 2:43 p.m.

I had a 2001 small cab-medium bed w/ the 3.9 V6 and auto trans and sport package. It was fine. Ok but not great gas mileage, reasonably reliable. I did a water pump and replaced every bushing in the front end which really helped it drive like a car.

The '01 Tacoma SR5/PreRunner 3.4 V6 2WD/auto that replaced it is better in every way.

Kenny_McCormic
Kenny_McCormic SuperDork
8/14/13 4:03 p.m.

My Dad wrenched for a Chrysler dealer in that time period. Saying "Dakota" or even worse "Durango" still makes him visibly agitated.

81cpcamaro
81cpcamaro HalfDork
8/14/13 4:16 p.m.

I liked the 2000 Dakota R/T I had, it was easier to park than full-size trucks and was fun to drive. Of course the 5.9L and 3.92 rear gears made it fun. Not a big fan of the 4.7L when it comes to towing, but it is adequate for everything else. Once the transmission is rebuilt (good rebuild), it usually lasts a long time. I would add a external cooler if it doesn't have the factory one. You could get the 5.9L in a 4-door without the R/T package too. I towed an open car trailer with it and it handled it quite well. I did use a WD hitch, that helps out quite a bit.

Pat
Pat HalfDork
8/14/13 4:41 p.m.
Vigo wrote:
but if you are going to get a 4-door, you are limited (I think) to the AWD auto/4.7L V8.
They dont have to be 4wd. I've seen them in 2wd. In fact, one of my best dakota experiences was borrowing a 2wd quad cab 4.7/auto dakota to go get some gas for a generator. I loved every second of that drive. I honestly think a 4.7/quad cab/2wd dakota is a REALLY GOOD vehicle.

That's exactly my truck...'01, 2wd, quad cab, 4.7/auto, 3.55 sure grip. 87k miles on it and love it. Big enough to do what I need it to do, tows just fine, and small enough to park in the DC area.

JKleiner
JKleiner Reader
8/14/13 7:08 p.m.

Daughter and I have a pair of em'; hers an '02 with the 4.7 V8, mine an '03 with 3.9 V6. Both 4X4 automatics, hers the 4 door Quad cab and mine a 2 door Club Cab. Over 400k miles between them with only routine maintenance and wear items. Both were purchased by us new and neither engine or trans has ever been cracked open. The 4.7 V8 is strong but the 3.9 V6 (a 318 with 2 cylinders lopped off) despite being reliable as an anvil won't pull a greasy string out of a cat's ass.

Jeff

beans
beans HalfDork
8/15/13 9:05 a.m.

I loved my '03 SXT RCSB 2WD 5-speed. We got it new for next to nothing(<$10K out the door). The V6 sucked though. Ate a cam with less than 1000 miles on it, and by 8000 miles it needed a new block. Got out of its own way decent enough, but that was probably due to the 5-speed and 3.55's. Perfect sized truck. Very comfy on the road.

I'm very partial to the 4.7's, with good maintenance and no overheating, those suckers are stout. Same with the 45/545RFE. Use only Mopar stuff. I threw a transgo shift kit/royal purple/Sonnax LB2 in my WJ 4.7/45RFE, waaaay better than stock. I want a 2wd RCSB with a 4.7. Auto or 5-speed. Then, when it dies, swap a new Hemi right in.

Vigo
Vigo UberDork
8/15/13 10:22 a.m.
the 3.9 V6 (a 318 with 2 cylinders lopped off) despite being reliable as an anvil won't pull a greasy string out of a cat's ass.

The 3.9 drove a lot better in the earlier 92-96 dakotas. The later ones weigh a lot more, and a 4dr or a 4wd or an automatic in particular (let alone all three?! BARF) only adds to that problem! Weight wise that isnt a whole lot different from the 3.9V6 conversion vans..

Got out of its own way decent enough, but that was probably due to the 5-speed and 3.55's

At one point i had a short race with a modded 3.9/5spd 3g dakota. It was pretty quick! I barely beat it in my 3.5L Intrepid, and that intrepid was able to outrun pre-PI 4.6 Mustangs. My dad's 2g 96 3.9/auto ext cab 2wd auto Dakota, when it was newer and in good shape, felt like a high 16 1/4 mile and i had it up over 115mph (pegged) so it wasnt that slow to begin with. Later ones just have the potential to be really obese.

beans
beans HalfDork
8/15/13 11:46 a.m.

It was pretty good at those.

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