2003 Dodge Dakota Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 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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14
Known Problems

If the automatic transmission intermittently stays in second gear (will not shift into a higher gear), restarting the engine may fix the condition temporarily. Updated software for the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) can solve this concern.

3.7L V6 and 4.7L V8
Exhaust manifold bolts commonly break, exhaust manifold gaskets should be replaced and replace bolts as needed.

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.

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.

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 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.

A clunk or popping sound heard while turning may mean the intermediate steering shafts need realignment. Replacement of the upper intermediate shaft may be necessary.

The upper ball joints may fail due to moisture damage. Our technicians tell us 2000-2001 models were recalled for this issue. For more information on this recall, please click here»

Front and rear differential pinion seal leaks are common. The leaky pinion seal and differential fluid will need to be replaced.

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.

If the transmission delays initial gear engagement after being parked overnight or longer, it may be due to a suspect transmission cooler return filter. If the transmission was recently serviced and the part number for the cooler return filter contains an "AB" suffix at the end, a new filter should be installed.

One the 3.9L V6 and 5.9L V8 the carbon buildup on the top of the piston is common. As the buildup increases with mileage and over time, symptoms may vary from light ticking, to ticking/hammering, to hammering/knocking noises. Fuel injector cleaner often solves the problem.