The Dakota was Dodge’s mid-size truck option for almost 25 years before the company stopped making the vehicle in 2011.
There are still used Dakotas on the market today, but how long should Dodge Dakotas last?
With proper maintenance, the Dodge Dakota can last up to 200,000 miles or more. This is especially true for the vehicle’s manual transmission versions since their automatic transmissions are infamous for being widely unreliable and unable to handle themselves well under load.
Keep reading to get the scoop on the Dodge Dakota’s reliability, cost of maintenance, and common issues. Then, find out how to make your Dakota last longer.
How Many Miles Do Dodge Dakotas Last?
With proper care and maintenance, the Dodge Dakota can last up to 200,00 and beyond.
To reach this high mileage, it’s crucial to practice frequent and timely maintenance such as oil changes, brake services, fluid top-offs, and tire air pressure checks.
It’s also important to pay attention to how you treat your Dakota when it is on the road. Drive carefully and pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Are Dodge Dakotas Reliable Cars?
If you’re wondering whether Dodge Dakotas are reliable cars, the answer depends on which year the vehicle came out and how well it was cared for by the previous owner.
Repair Pal rates the Dodge Dakota at 3.5 out of 5, which makes it rank 5th out of 7 mid-size trucks.
As a general rule of thumb, you can assume that any Dodge Dakota that is more than 20 years old is not reliable, especially since early-model vehicles were well-known for early transmission failure.
Dodge Dakota Years To Avoid
Any Dakota models manufactured between 1997 and 2004 are not great options.
Although Dodge tried to create a vehicle with unique powertrain options, there were widespread issues with the vehicle failing under load, which is a huge problem, especially since it has a V8 engine.
When it comes to safety, the second-generation Dakota left much to be desired according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) crash test.
The vehicle scored a “P” for poor, the worst score possible. Overall, it’s a bad option that should be avoided.
Even though the 3rd generation Dodge Dakota solved many of the 2nd generation’s problems, those with an automatic transmission presented problems of their own.
Major issues such as poor shifting, sticky shifting, and frequent “limp-home” malfunctions plagued the Ultradrive transmission in the vehicle.
The 3rd gen Dakota scored slightly better on the IIHS safety test but was still only rated an “A” for average, so the score is not a redeeming quality.
Best Dodge Dakota Years
When it comes to the best Dodge Dakota years, you can count on the models that feature a manual transmission.
As long as the car received regular maintenance, you can expect it to perform near-perfectly.
Perhaps the most reliable Dakota model is the 2004 model.
It is not unusual for these trucks to last 300,000 miles or more and they rarely have mechanical issues.
This year’s Dakota currently holds a 4.2 rating out of 5 on Vehicle History with only 1% of reviews ranking it at 2 stars or below.
Compare that to the 2000’s model of 10% rated 2 or below and the difference is clear.
Many drivers report decades of positive experiences with the 2004 Dodge Dakota, making it an attractive choice in the used-car market.
Owners of 2004 Dodge Dakotas brag about its excellent fuel economy and exceptional towing power.
How Reliable are Dodge Dakotas Compared to Similar Cars
Let’s dive into how the Dodge Dakota stacks up against competitors’ options.
Dodge Dakota vs Ford Ranger
The Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger are both popular vintage options in the used car market.
The Dakota generally has better gas mileage, more room, and carries more weight than the Ranger.
The approximate cost of repair on a Dodge Dakota ranges anywhere from $95 to $4539 while the average price to fix a Ford Ranger is between $95 and $2560.
In terms of reliability, according to Consumer Reports, the Ford Ranger is a better option.
The 2003 Ford Ranger, for example, only has 5 recalls versus the 2003 Dodge Dakota which has 11.
Of course, the Ford Ranger is still in production today, so if you’re looking for a more modern ride with up-to-date safety and reliability features, it might be a better bet for you.
Still, a well-maintained Dakota with a manual transmission could last you for decades to come.
Dodge Dakota vs Dodge Ram
According to Repair Pal, the Dodge Dakota and Dodge Ram are neck-and-neck with reliability ratings at 3.5 out of 5.
The Dakota boasts lower repair costs and needs to be repaired slightly less frequently when compared to the Ram.
The Dakota has a 13% average probability of having a severe repair issue compared to Ram’s 17% probability.
Even though the Dakota has a clear advantage, the differences between the two models are slight.
Dodge Dakota vs Chevy Colorado
If you’re looking for power, the Dodge Dakota is the way to go.
Chevy Colorados are infamous for their inadequate engines, which makes towing difficult.
Dakotas, on the other hand, can be relied upon to tow large loads with ease.
The Colorado is ranked slightly higher in reliability on Repair Pal, the Dakota scoring a 3.5 versus the Colorado’s 4.
The Chevy Colorado does have a huge advantage over the Dakota in the frequency of repairs needed at just .2% probability versus the Dakota’s 1.6%.
However, both numbers are still low, so the Dodge Dakota is still a great option in comparison to the Chevy Colorado.
Are Dodge Dakotas Expensive To Maintain?
The overall cost of maintaining a Dodge Dakota is relatively standard when compared to other mid-size trucks, around $622 per year compared to other similar vehicles’ average of $652 yearly.
Let’s look into the cost and frequency of maintenance on the vehicle.
How Long Does a Dodge Dakota’s Battery Last?
On average, the battery in a Dodge Dakota should last anywhere from 4-5 years or 60,000 miles.
If the battery gives out earlier than this, it is likely due to allowing corrosion to sit on the battery terminals for extended periods.
Performing visual inspections frequently is a great way to get the most life out of the battery in a Dodge Dakota.
How Long Do Dodge Dakotas Engines Last?
The engine in a Dodge Dakota can last up to 300,000 miles or more before breaking down with proper routine maintenance.
When problems do arise with the Dakota, it rarely involves the engine and instead involves the transmission, alternator, or starter.
How Long Do Dodge Dakotas Brakes Last?
Dodge Dakota brake components should be checked every 20,000 miles to ensure maximum safety and efficiency, but the longevity of the brakes depends on your driving style.
If you’re a cautious driver who begins braking early, for example, your brakes will likely last longer than drivers who drive fast and stop abruptly.
Another key factor in how long the brakes last on this vehicle is the quality of the brake pads and rotors.
It can be tempting to opt for the most economical option in these areas, but spending a little extra money for better quality pays off greatly.
Most reputable brake manufacturers for the Dodge Dakota supply brake pads and rotors that last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles on average.
How Long Do Dodge Dakotas Tires last?
The lifespan of Dakota tires depends on the quality of the tires you put on the vehicle.
Typically, the car’s tires should last around three to six years depending on how often it is driven and on what terrain.
If you do mostly city driving on paved roads in a mild climate, for example, your tires will last longer compared to vehicles driven on rough terrain or on streets that are frequently treated for snow or are unpaved.
Equipping your Dakota with the right style of tire is essential to the tires’ longevity.
If you live in an area where you frequently must travel on rough terrain, you should opt for rugged terrain tires.
Frequently checking your tire pressure is another great way to keep your tires in tip-top shape since driving on tires that are low on air can shorten their lives.
Do Dodge Dakotas Have A Lot Of Problems?
Purchasing a used car usually entails a repair and maintenance bill and Dodge Dakotas are no exception.
While their manual transmission models are known for having fewer issues, there are still some problems such as suspension issues and brakes.
The 2000-2002 Dodge Dakota are by far the worst models in the bunch for having multiple issues.
Engine overheating, losing power under load, and recurring issues with the transmission are just a few common problems that Dakota owners deal with.
Here are a few more common problems of these vehicles:
- Airbag malfunctions
- Powertrain issues
- Engine cooling problems
- Electrical issues
Luckily, most issues with the Dakota are not difficult to fix, especially in the case of a manual transmission model.
The repair costs are reasonable, with the average price being around $622.
How To Make Your Dodge Dakota Last Longer
One of the simplest ways to extend the life of your Dodge Dakota is ensuring that routine maintenance is timely and consistent.
Prevention is your best defense against premature breakdowns.
Keeping up with oil changes, engine tune-ups, and transmission flushes are crucial to the health of the car.
It’s also essential to perform frequent visual checks of components under the hood.
Detecting problems early can not only save your pocketbook but also prevents a problem from getting worse, which could potentially leave you stranded.
If you want your Dakota to last, you can’t afford to ignore any problems.
If you hear a strange sound or your vehicle runs differently than you’re used to, consult a certified mechanic immediately.
Final Thoughts – Dodge Dakota Life Expectancy
Overall, if you’re looking for life expectancy in a Dodge Dakota, your best option is a 2004 or newer option with a manual transmission.
Dodge Dakotas can last up to 200,000 miles or more with regular and timely maintenance.
Those vehicles with an automatic transmission are unpredictable, unreliable, and often more trouble than they are worth.
When compared to other vehicles, the Dakota stands its ground in reliability, maintenance costs, and towing features.
Even though there are a few common issues with the Dakota, the average repair cost is low. Most of the vehicle’s common issues are simple and cheap to fix.
Serious issues are few and far between, so if you’re looking for reliability, the Dakota could be the right choice for you.