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Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans None
5/5/23 1:17 a.m.

Hello there. My name is Josie. 

Quick backstory: I've been building and modifying vehicles forever. It's a huge passion of mine. As long as I could financially swing it, I've tried to keep some sort of project car around to tinker with in my spare time. A couple of years ago, I entered a super rough transitional period in my life that involved massive personal changes like separation, divorce, moving, selling most of my things, changing my name, my job, and just about everything else you could imagine. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I almost didn't survive the process. It was a lot. When I emerged on the other side, I was no longer the same person anymore and my interests evolved in unexpected ways. I had a project vehicle at the time, but it just sat and I considered selling it. When I started driving it again, that love for all things automotive came roaring back to me and I decided that it would be stupid to get rid of this thing. It's just too much fun. 

So yeah. There's a build thread for this truck that abruptly stopped over a year ago. I contemplated changing all of my info on the forum and just kind of picking up where I left off, but I'm literally not the same person, so it seems more fitting to start over. 

Here are the basic stats:

  • 2003 Dodge Dakota Sport
  • Regular cab, short bed
  • 2WD, 3.55, LSD
  • 4.7l SOHC V8 
  • NV3500 5-speed manual

Here's the fun stuff that I've added:

  • 4/5 drop 
  • Corbeau Evolution seats
  • Custom 3" exhaust with a Magnaflow muffler
  • Roll pan
  • All new lights
  • lots of little fixes and improvements throughout 

How it started:

How I left off:

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 1:28 a.m.

I started adding little things here and there and doing some maintenance stuff like wheel bearings, oil, and plugs. 

I had been eyeing a specific set of wheels for a long time, but they were never in stock, no matter where I looked. About a week before my birthday, I was just randomly looking at wheels online. I discovered that this one wheel and tire shop actually had the wheels I wanted, in stock, as well as some really nice tires to go on them that would fit under my suspension. This made me think irresponsible thoughts. Then my tax return showed up on my birthday and decisions were made...

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 1:54 a.m.

I don't know how many of you have shopped for six-lug truck wheels lately, but it's a total E36 M3 show. Everything is huge, heavy, gaudy, and covered with fake beadlocks. No one has the sport truck scene in mind these days. It's been a really huge struggle for me to find a set of wheels that I actually wanted on my truck. Motegi makes the Trailight, which is a truck version of the Tracklite, but it won't fit my truck. Enkei makes the RPT1, which is a truck version of the RPF1 that I had on my last project car, but again... it won't fit my truck. Volk now makes TE37s for trucks, but of course, they won't fit my truck (probably a good thing since they cost about $900 per wheel). 

Fortunately, I found a wheel called the "Stadium" by Black Rhino. It comes in something other than flat black, it's forged, it's clean and simple, and actually fits my berkeleying truck. So I ordered a set of them in 17x8.5" with some 245/45 Nitto NT555s. They showed up today and I immediately went to work putting them on the truck. This is when I noticed two problems. First of all, they only gave me two center caps. I already emailed them and requested the other two. Second, what is wrong with this picture?

What the actual berkeley?

I mean... who does this? 

I pulled it off and re-stuck it on the inside of the barrel, as close to the same location as possible. I have no idea if it will stay in place or maintain balance, but wow. There's no way in hell I was going to leave it like that. 

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 2:06 a.m.

By the time I got back from my test run, it had started raining. I took some pictures, but it's dirty and that's not a great way to show off a new set of wheels. I couldn't NOT share something, so here's a quick, dirty, center cap delete photo. Even in this rough form, I think they look really nice on the truck and I'm excited about how it turned out. 

I've been contemplating dropping the truck another inch in the front and two more in the rear, so that's why the tires are so short. In order to drop the rear any further, I need to find someone local to do a C-notch for me. Cutting and welding the frame is well beyond my technical abilities and it's not the kind of thing that I want to mess up. Hot rod and fab shops are surprisingly challenging to find in the Greater Seattle area, so that's also been a hangup. But anyway. I still dig it with the current stance. 

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
5/5/23 7:25 a.m.

Welcome, and seeing you're a Mopar fan ....

Toyman!
Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/5/23 7:59 a.m.

I ran into the same wheel problem when I was hunting wheels for my Colorado. There are an amazing number of ugly truck wheels out there. Glad to see you found some good ones. 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/5/23 8:14 a.m.

Howdy!

I like those wheels.

Long ago, I once posted with a Josie who was on the west coast. You ever end up on the FordSix forums? Maybe 15 years back?

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 3:00 p.m.
Toyman! said:

I ran into the same wheel problem when I was hunting wheels for my Colorado. There are an amazing number of ugly truck wheels out there. Glad to see you found some good ones. 

Yes indeed. They're terrible. I don't understand the current trend of extremely cluttered wheels with fake rivets all over the place. Also the weight! I realize that the vast majority of truck owners aren't interested in going fast, but adding tons of unsprung weight is absolutely a killer of acceleration and braking in my experience. All the diesel bros out there with giant lifts on their Superdutys need to add all of the tuners and five-inch exhaust just to make up for the performance that was lost with the addition of massive, 100+ pound (per corner!) wheel and tire setups.  

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 3:11 p.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

Nope! Wasn't me. While I do love almost all imports, I am stupidly brand loyal when it comes to domestic vehicles. I was raised as a Mopar girl and I haven't been able to shake it in more than forty years. I may or may not have had impure desires involving a 6-speed CTS-V Wagon, but we don't like to talk about that. 

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke UltraDork
5/5/23 3:17 p.m.

Those wheels look great! Plus I'm always a sucker for satin bronze.

chandler
chandler MegaDork
5/5/23 3:36 p.m.

The aftermarket for truck wheels is desolate; I went back to 1991 for my truck

Love the Dakota!

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 4:51 p.m.

In reply to chandler :

Thank you! I love the vert! When I was in the market for this truck, I definitely had my eye on a couple of those, but they were in really rough shape. 

I love the diversity of the wheel options in the import/tuner scene. Lots of colors and fun throwback styles to choose from, including lightweight options for those of us who obsess over those things. That's where I gathered inspiration for the aesthetics of this truck. I even toyed with a JDM theme, just to piss off the purists. I really wanted red, gold, or bronze wheels on the truck and these seemed to be my best option. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/5/23 4:59 p.m.

I'll third (fourth? Whatever) the "cool wheels" comments. I never thought about trying to find wheels for a street truck, but I can see how it would be a pain. It's obviously too late now, but did you look at Fifteen52 or Method? 

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/5/23 5:23 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago said:

I'll third (fourth? Whatever) the "cool wheels" comments. I never thought about trying to find wheels for a street truck, but I can see how it would be a pain. It's obviously too late now, but did you look at Fifteen52 or Method? 

Thanks!

Yes and yes. Fifteen52 makes some really cool wheels, but not a single one in my bolt pattern. Method's offerings are super slim. 

Oddly enough, Vipers share the same bolt pattern with this truck. There have been quite a few Dakotas mated to a set of OEM Viper wheels and they can look really nice. I decided not to go that route because they require some pretty huge spacers to clear the springs and I'm not a fan of that. Also, have you priced a set of P295/30ZR18 and P355/30ZR19 tires lately? Yikes. 

chandler
chandler MegaDork
5/5/23 8:06 p.m.
Manual_Trans said:
thatsnowinnebago said:

I'll third (fourth? Whatever) the "cool wheels" comments. I never thought about trying to find wheels for a street truck, but I can see how it would be a pain. It's obviously too late now, but did you look at Fifteen52 or Method? 

Thanks!

Yes and yes. Fifteen52 makes some really cool wheels, but not a single one in my bolt pattern. Method's offerings are super slim. 

Oddly enough, Vipers share the same bolt pattern with this truck. There have been quite a few Dakotas mated to a set of OEM Viper wheels and they can look really nice. I decided not to go that route because they require some pretty huge spacers to clear the springs and I'm not a fan of that. Also, have you priced a set of P295/30ZR18 and P355/30ZR19 tires lately? Yikes. 

I ran the tri bars on my 93 for awhile, they didn't fit right anywhere but they looked cool haha. I actually autocrossed on some 16" Budniks that a buddy had custom built but that was when 16" was a decent size

chandler
chandler MegaDork
5/5/23 8:07 p.m.

Another thought would be to keep your eyes open for some forgeline/bbs/Fikse viper centers to rebuild for your application.

Loweguy5
Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/5/23 9:17 p.m.

In reply to chandler :

I have an abnormal level of love for the first gen Dakotas.  Somehow they remind me of square body chevys just in a 7/8 scale.

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/7/23 9:20 p.m.
chandler said:

Another thought would be to keep your eyes open for some forgeline/bbs/Fikse viper centers to rebuild for your application.

You know, I've never thought about purchasing some of those for the centers alone. People build custom barrels to fit their application all the time. That's actually a great idea.

chandler
chandler MegaDork
5/7/23 9:42 p.m.
Manual_Trans said:
chandler said:

Another thought would be to keep your eyes open for some forgeline/bbs/Fikse viper centers to rebuild for your application.

You know, I've never thought about purchasing some of those for the centers alone. People build custom barrels to fit their application all the time. That's actually a great idea.

And you can do it as you have money. It isn't cheap but it can be done on layaway haha. I built these Fikse for my 300CE that way

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/7/23 9:56 p.m.

I washed the truck and installed the driver's side center caps. I really like these wheels on this truck. The overall improvement in traction is also really nice. The dramatic squeals from those cheap all-seasons was obnoxious. These Nittos just silently grip like they're supposed to and the whole truck feels so much more planted. It still chirps the tires at full throttle on the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts, but it's not nearly as audible. Just glorious V8 noises. 

I think I'm going to address some interior and exterior cosmetic nitpicks next. It really needs a new paintjob, but I have no idea when I'll be able to make that happen. I plan to drive it until the 4.7 explodes and then start hunting for a 392/TR6060 out of a wrecked Challenger to drop in it. I think a sub 3600 pound truck with 500 horses would be more than enough to get me into trouble. Hellcats are cool and all, but I don't want to deal with the added weight, complexity, cost, and extreme traction issues that would bring. 

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/7/23 10:02 p.m.

In reply to chandler :

I honestly can't believe that I never considered that option before. I've seen quite a few retired Viper track wheel setups on bald tires with scratches all over them, and these guys sell them for really decent prices (relatively speaking). They could look amazing on this truck. 

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/15/23 7:10 p.m.

I took the truck to a touchless car wash the other day. It's one of the types where you just pull in and sit while it sprays off your vehicle without making contact. I've been there a few times, so it wasn't a new experience. After I pulled onto the main road, I noticed a misfire at lower RPM. The truck sounds and feels totally normal under full throttle, but it's definitely misfiring when cruising with a steady throttle. I have no idea if the carwash had anything to do with the issue, but it was not doing this before I went in there and it started to act up shortly after leaving.

For a while now, the truck has been misfiring very momentarily when it's cold. I'm talking like two or three seconds after I start it. All I do is rev it up and it stops. There is zero effect on the truck the rest of the time I drive it. Since it's so minor, I haven't been very concerned, but I've still kept an eye out for any potential worsening. This is definitely worse. It's odd, because it revs just fine and seems to fire perfectly when accelerating hard. It's only misfiring at idle and while cruising. The truck is throwing a 0300 code, which is for multi cylinder misfire, and that makes sense. I wiggled all of the injector connections and other various plugs under the hood while it was running and did a brief inpsection for anything obvious. Everything looks normal. 

I'm in the process of internet sleuthing on lots of various, dead Dakota forums to see if there's any consensus. So far I've encountered mixed results. I think I'm going to replace the upstream O2 sensors first, since it's acting like a bad O2 sensor and they're relatively cheap. I believe Denso was the OEM supplier and I can find them for about $30 each. I also watched a video of a guy describing similar issues with his 4.7 and it ended up being his EGR valve. Who knows. I suppose it's to be expected given the high miles, but it still sucks. This is the first engine related issue I've encountered with this thing since I bought it a few years ago. 

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
5/23/23 9:29 p.m.

I bought two new OEM Denso O2 sensors and attempted to install them today. The driver's side sensor went in without much issue. The passenger side was a different story. Back when I had the exhaust installed, the guy and the (admittedly shady) shop who built and installed the exhaust, said he broke one of the upstream O2 sensors. He told me he plugged the hole and said to come back if I had any issues installing a new one. That was about two years ago. 

I crawled under there today and found a seriously chewed up harness with exposed wires on one spot and a couple of plugs that were just ziptied out of the way. One of those unused plugs was supposed to go to the missing upstream O2 sensor, but it was not the correct plug. At some point, someone decided to cut the factory O2 plug off of the harness and splice in a completely different plug. Why the hell would someone do that? It makes no sense to me. So the new OEM sensor that I just bought, wasn't going to plug into the hacked harness on the truck. Now I need to find an '01-'04, 4.7 Dakota near me to cut the upstream O2 sensor harness off of the passenger side and splice it onto mine. What a pain in the ass. 

If that wasn't bad enough, the new sensor that I did install, didn't fix the misfire. I have a new set of coilpacks on the way, so I'll give those a shot next. The plugs are fairly new, but I'm going to check them when the coilpacks are out to see if anything looks off. Maybe I'll run a compression test. We'll see. 

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
5/24/23 10:36 a.m.

In reply to Manual_Trans :

I love how it's just black, on black, on black.

Manual_Trans
Manual_Trans New Reader
6/27/23 2:06 a.m.

Time for an update. 

A couple of weeks ago, I replaced all eight coil packs with new NGK replacements. No change to the misfire. 

I finally managed to source an OEM upstream O2 sensor plug off of a similar Dakota and had it shipped to me. I ripped out the random connector that had been spliced into my truck, cleaned everything up, soldered in the new plug, added heat shrink, and wrapped everything in the appropriate wire harness tape. It looks good as new. With two new, OEM Denso O2 sensors in place, I cleared the codes with my handy scan tool, started it up and... it seems to have been fixed. Maybe.

I drove it around for about half an hour and at first, I thought I could still feel a slight misfire, but I was unsure. If it was still misfiring, it was super minor. Like almost imperceptible. As in, maybe just in my head. After a few minutes, the CEL finally lit back up, so I pulled over and scanned it again. The same P0300 code showed up for a random misfire. But honestly, I can't really tell at this point if it is actually misfiring at all, and that code has popped up from time to time since I got the truck. It seems really smooth and I think I might have just been paranoid at the beginning of the test drive. I'm really tempted to just keep driving it and see if it starts to act up again. 

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