I'd rather drive off a cliff and DIE than have it taken away, and only be able to have a Toyota
For the most part, my Dakota has been trouble free until last year.
In the past year and a half, I have redone valve cover gaskets, water pump (I would link that to a previous accident, the fan was bent and replaced, probably didn't help matters) at 158,000 miles, and currently after getting a new set of tires (Firestone Destination A/T P215/75R15 100S-LOVE EM!!)
I discovered that I needed both lower ball joints (they are original), both upper ball joints (replaced 2005 during a recall -- that was 91,000 miles), left tierod end, and left wheelbearing (4x4).
Just for the heck of it, I had the cash to spare, and I have bought all the ball joints (MOOG), both wheel bearings, both tie rods, front brakes, and control arm bushings all around, for approx $850. And a bottle of Neversieze!! Put it around the wheel bearing housing so it will press out easier - if it ever needs to be done again!
I also have had one ongoing problem -- EVAP leaks triggering light. Believe it mostly revolves around the EVAP canister underneath. But the light is always about at inspection time, so I have time to replace it.. sometime.
One last thing I nearly forgot, (amazing what you can almost forget) the 4x4 Transfer case to front axle driveshaft. It has a universal at the axle and a CV joint at the case. I had it replaced by the dealer at around 120,000 miles. Then earlier this year, I heard it again. The price -- around $400.00, dealer only part. However, I found through the Dakota owners web page, a custom built, HEAVY DUTY, all universal type shaft built at Driveline Express in Lubbock Texas. 2 numbers available, no website. 1-800-753-1273, and 1-806-762-5896. Shipped UPS ground and pay COD. BELIEVE ME, there is a difference in the use of your 4x4 with this shaft. That extra torsional rigidity in it makes the front end hook up on both sides, and I have limited slip 3.55, which before always spun on one side or other, now it's HOOKED!
2001 to 2004 was the LAST of a great creation.
Overall I can say the Dakota was a serious truck when properly equipped.
I do wish it would have had available lockers for the front. I'll give Toyota that one, lockers, however I have no use for Toyota, biggest liars in the automotive industry, and as of recent I feel vindicated.
Back to the point, I have a commercial package pickup, bench seat, 5 speed manual, cassette deck, (now Sony Xplode CD) no air, regular cab. That's how a truck should be. If I was doing it all again today however, I wouldn't buy the Dakota, they have KILLED it. I only paid $14,900 for mine. Now you can't find one less than $21,G!! If I were to buy today, I'd go to a 3/4 ton full size. I'd still prefer Dodge, BUT Ford has a great runner up setting there, I drove one one day!!
The dream setup would be with the Cummins diesel, but if I'm not towing often, just get the Hemi, 6 speed manual, lockers all around, regular cab, HD clutch, Plow/Tow package, (Power Wagon??) 16.5 tires or 235/85/16 tires.
Ford would be same concept, but with 5.4L and HD auto/cooler. And bench seat in either one!! Because I want a TRUCK.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 15th February, 2010