1996 Dodge Dakota Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 Dodge Dakota as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

On the 3.9L V6, 5.2L V8 and 5.9L V8 the Oil leaks commonly from the valve cover gaskets, intake manifold gaskets (front and rear), timing cover gaskets, distributor O-ring, and the rear main seal area. Using fluorescent engine oil dye can be helpful in determining the source(s) of the oil leak.

Engine overheating can result from coolant leaks which are commonly found at the thermostat housing gasket, water pump, heater return tube O-ring at the water pump, intake manifold gasket, and timing cover gasket. Our technicians recommend a complete inspection of the cooling system after any repairs are made to be sure there are no other leaks.

If the HVAC (heater) housing is not properly sealed at the bulkhead (firewall), water can leak into the passenger compartment. Foam sealant should be used to seal any gaps and the evaporator drain tube can be modified to prevent further water entry.

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.2L V8, rerouting the ignition coil wire and spark plug wires can help solve a misfire and/or surge problem that occurs at approximately 45 mph. A service bulletin was published that outlines the specifics of the repair. It states the rerouting procedure should be performed before other repairs are done for misfires, surging or spark knock.

If the threads strip where the front brake caliper mounts to the steering knuckle, a steering knuckle repair kit is available. A new steering knuckle is not normally necessary.

On 3.7L V6 and 4.7L V8 engines the camshaft position sensor may fail causing the engine to crank but not start or it can cause intermittent stalling. A failed camshaft position sensor will require replacement.

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.2L V8, an intermittent connection in the crank position sensor wire connector can cause poor engine performance or the engine may crank but not start.

A surging or bucking during acceleration can be caused if the distributor is moved or mis-indexed. This is a result of the cam and crank position sensors being out of synchronization. Wear of the oil pump drive gear can cause similar symptoms because it allows excessive free play in the distributor drive. The distributor drive gear and bushing should be replaced if the rotor tip moves back-and-forth more than 3/16th of an inch when checking drive gear free play.

The distributor pickup plate commonly fails causing intermittent stalling, or the engine may not start (usually when the engine is hot).

On the 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 the engine oil leaks at the distributor can be misdiagnosed as leaks from the intake manifold seal, oil pan gasket, or rear crankshaft (rear main) seal. A revised distributor is available if oil is found inside the distributor.

On 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 engines, the intake manifold gasket may leak and cause increased oil consumption and a spark knock during acceleration; the gasket should be replaced.

Black smoke from the tail pipe, hard starting, and a rough idle can be caused by a leaking fuel injector. With the air cleaner removed and the engine idling, fuel can be seen leaking from around the injector (O-ring leak), or from the nozzle (fuel injector leak).

Various drivability problems can be caused by vacuum leaks. This engine has plastic tubes that become brittle and crack over time. These tubes can be replaced by normal vacuum hose but be careful when changing the Tee fittings or hose connectors because some have built in restrictor orifices (usually color coded). If the restrictions are missing, drivability problems will most likely result.

A loud buzzing or whining noise when the transmission is in reverse may be caused by the regulator valve in the transmission valve body. A revised regulator valve was released that does not resonate. Careful diagnosis should be performed because other issues can create this same type of noise.