Dodge Dakota - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-10-2008, 04:20 PM   #1
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I'm looking at switching out the Jeep Liberty for towing our Scamp 13 to a Dodge Dakota. Principally, the reason is that now that I've been doing this over a year and a half, I have discovered that it would make setting up and breaking down camp a breeze if everything could be in a pickup bed that had a locking cover and didn't need to be hauled in and out of the trailer and the back end of the Liberty.

My question is this. I am mainly looking for a V6 due to the gas situation, but the V8's are sitting at ridiculous prices. The epa rating is only 1mpg difference between the two. Would having a V8 pulling a 13 Scamp not experience the drop in gas mileage when towing as much as a V6 would? It seems like I have seen references to this before, but does anyone have direct experience with it?
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Old 09-10-2008, 04:58 PM   #2
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Get a Toyota Tacoma V6-I get 17-19 mpg.
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Old 09-10-2008, 06:10 PM   #3
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I drive an extended cab 2002 Dakota 4x4 with a 4.7 V8 rated at 230 horse power.. The V8, for that year, actually gets slightly better gas mileage than the V6 due to a better fuel injection system. My mileage is normally 20-22 mpg unless I hurry and then it gets so bad that I really don't want to talk about it. My towing capacity is about 6500 lbs. so towing any fiberglass trailer is no problem. The difference in size between the two engines is about that of two beers divided between 8 cilynders.
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Old 09-10-2008, 07:59 PM   #4
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Wow Greg!!

I was shocked to read your posting...as my husband and I are thinking the same thing.

We have a 2006 Red Jeep Liberty - no problem pulling our 16ft trailer what-so-ever...but the last time we went camping (last weekend actually) it seems like we're taking more and more - and while on the way to the CG, we were discussing getting a pick up, and I happen to like the Dodge Dakota - so much that I didn't tell my husband I had already found one that I liked (used) in a parking lot for sale.

The one I was looking at had 69,000 miles on it, extended cab, V8 - and $3900. I figured the low price was because of the V8 engine - and it was in a high school parking lot so I also figured som kid couldn't afford to keep putting gas in it. I forgot what year it was..

Great Minds Think Alike!!
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:03 AM   #5
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Wow Greg!!

I was shocked to read your posting...as my husband and I are thinking the same thing.

We have a 2006 Red Jeep Liberty - no problem pulling our 16ft trailer what-so-ever...but the last time we went camping (last weekend actually) it seems like we're taking more and more - and while on the way to the CG, we were discussing getting a pick up, and I happen to like the Dodge Dakota - so much that I didn't tell my husband I had already found one that I liked (used) in a parking lot for sale.

The one I was looking at had 69,000 miles on it, extended cab, V8 - and $3900. I figured the low price was because of the V8 engine - and it was in a high school parking lot so I also figured som kid couldn't afford to keep putting gas in it. I forgot what year it was..

Great Minds Think Alike!!
Carolyn,
I'm just glad ur in Ohio so we won't be competing for the same truck. We spent the entire month of July in Scamper and it really dawned on me then that the pickup is the perfect mate for this endeavor. We only used the awning once in the whole month in Wyoming and MT and it could have sat quietly in the bed of the PU, instead of me having to load and unload it everytime we moved. :-)
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:13 AM   #6
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I've been pulling with a 01 Dakota, 4.7L w/80k since we got the trailer in October. A fair amount of my driving is freeway's at 65MPH and we get +/-12MPH. The gas tank is small - only 18 gallons so your range is limited to around 200 miles. Also I won't claim to be "easy" on her. I drive pretty aggressively so you my do better. Also, this whole state is above 4500 feet elevation so I think that is a factor.

With my 17' SD fully loaded we more than meet the capacity of the truck. However I felt that when fully loaded, with all my extra gear in the back of the truck (cooler, extra water, generator, etc), it seem to to sag a bit too much for my liking, so I added an extra leaf to the rear springs. That worked out really well.

All that is above are the negatives. I love my truck and trailer. The truck pulls that little guy VERY well and I'm extremely happy with this setup.

-Kyle
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:15 AM   #7
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The V-8 Dakota mileage is no different than a full-size truck; unless you have a reason for a smaller vehicle, I'd be tempted to go for the room, comfort and ride of a full-size truck (a lot more selection as well)
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Old 09-12-2008, 11:00 AM   #8
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The V-8 Dakota mileage is no different than a full-size truck; unless you have a reason for a smaller vehicle, I'd be tempted to go for the room, comfort and ride of a full-size truck (a lot more selection as well)
I agree Cam and I did go drive the full-size, but personally it was just too massive a vehicle for me. Just normal driving around town, getting it in our garage and driveway just wasn't a fit.
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Old 09-12-2008, 05:48 PM   #9
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We tow an '86 Bigfoot with a 2002 Dodge Dakota (a 6 cyl.). The Dakota is kind of the "family car" since we both commute to work and around town in much smaller cars with 33+ mpg. ratings. Neither of those cars are great for long trips with the whole family as they are too small to carry much luggage or big enough so everyone has some elbow room. The truck isn't as smooth to ride in (it bumps us around a lot with every little dip in the highway) but it's a quad cab with a 5 foot bed so is great for long trips-and camping trips- and fits the whole family (up to 5) and our gear comfortably. It also gets between 20-22 mpg. driving (mostly highway) and only takes 1 more gal. of gas for every 200 mi. we travel while towing a trailer (we're on our second trailer, the former being a 13ft vintage pop-up).

We were originally looking for a Toyota Tacoma, since I am not a big fan of Dodge vehicles (I owned an '87 Dodge Daytona from Oct. '87- Jan '90 and that car was the biggest lemon I have ever owned-the battery died about 2 weeks after I bought it with 23,000 mi. on it, the water pump went out at 31,000 mi. and from then on it was one major component needing replaced about every 3 months till I got rid of it in early '90, from the alternator, transmission including the linkage, clutch and seals twice, electronic components, hoses, fuel injection system, and the entire brake system TWICE due to a fault in engineering according to the garage! When I traded it in the dealer sounded amazed that the car was "in as good as shape" as it was, since in his experience 3 year old Dodge Dakotas with 66,000 miles on them rarely had a functioning turbo drive or electric windows or locks that still worked!)

I take good care of vehicles too-drive very conservatively and get the oil changed every 3,000 miles, etc. The next new car I traded my lemon in for was a Nissan Sentra, which ran fine with NO mechanical problems and only one brake shoe replacement at 70,000 mi. (and standard oil change/tuneup stuff) until I had the clutch replaced at 125,000. It still had the original battery the car came with!

Needless to say I was not overjoyed when my husband came home with a Dodge Dakota after a trip to the dealership to "test drive" a couple of trucks. The good thing was that we got it with 32,000 mi. at about $3,000 under it's Blue Book value.

It's at 53,200 mi now and so far the main computer has gone out once for us (under warrantee-phew!-but my husband saw the work order and it went out for the original owner at around 20,000 mi. as well), some fuses have blown, there was a slight problem with the differential (that still ran $250), and now the fan isn't working (after 2 months of having to be on full blast in able to work at all) so when the heater or air conditioning is on it doesn't blow out any air (I guess this isn't under warrenty). I am still not convinced Dodge has overcome past concerns about quality, I guess.

I've also noticed that I have to downshift considerably to make it up steep hills and then floored can only get the truck up to 40-50 mph. while towing. I have also had this problem on moderately steep inclines such as the one between Palm Springs and Quartzite.... so I personally feel that it is a little gutless despite the fact that my trailer is only "supposed" to weigh 2,500 lbs. max and the truck we have supposedly has a 3,500 towing limit. I am getting my trailer (fully loaded) weighed at the Lake Casitas Gathering just to make sure that I am not vastly underestimating my weight, however, so *may* be back to retract the "gutless" statement!


I guess I would go with Consumer Reports and the guy up above and look around for a Toyota. You might find the same issue that we did when we were shopping for a truck, though-not that many people are selling "used" Toyota Trucks, and we just didn't feel like shelling out for a new one. Good used Toyotas take a long time to find. We got tired of looking, but now I kind of glance at the Toyota classifieds now and then in preparation for the day some big expensive thing (more expensive that the $450 it will take to fix the heater fan) goes wrong with our current truck......

Then again, maybe I am just really unlucky with Dodge vehicle choices and get the ones made by the hungover guys on Monday morning or the TGIF guys on Friday afternoon that had a few at lunch!

I am curious if any others on this site have had the same issues (when you google "Dodge Dakota reviews" you'll get plenty of horror stories about repair costs but also some people who think it really looks great and is affordable, so I guess it depends on your perspective.)
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:37 AM   #10
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I had a 1997 Dodge Dakota with the V-8 and the tow package.. It towed great, but only got about 13 MPG towing my less than 2,000 lb. 14' 0" Burro. My problem was that I was going into the shop once a year for four years for front end suspension work. Ball joints, control arms, etc. This spring I traded in the Dakota for a Toyota Tacoma, and it is great. I now get about 16 MPG towing.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:56 AM   #11
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Things MUST have changed a little with Chrysler products in these later years.
We bought our '06 Dakota 4.7L H.O. new in late November of '06. A co-worker also bought a 'clone' truck, as ours. ( we have since found out that there are only 6 identical vehicles in all of Canada!!) Neither of us have had anything go wrong with either vehicles, knock on wood (....where's my head when I need it, LOL). Granted milage isn't all that, as I'm told the full sized Ram gets equal milage, but the smaller truck is easier to manuver/park, etc. (TRY parking a Ram in a double car garage in a townhouse....)

Toyota/Nissan vehicles DO hold their market value better than domestics but you DO pay more to purchase them, I'm speaking of new/off the showroom pricing.

Getting back to the original thought of this thread, IMHO, I feel that MAYBE the V-8 setup (from the factory) will have better charging capacity ....bigger battery, maybe stronger brakes(?), larger rad, etc! I know it has larger wheels n tires, which also greatly affects fuel economy.

Our Dakota tows our 13'er like its not even there. IF you are concerned about sagging (from a loaded box while towing) perhaps a weight distribution hitch might be a better (and cheaper choice) than messing with the rear suspension which will affect the trucks empty rideability too.
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:32 PM   #12
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IF you are concerned about sagging (from a loaded box while towing) perhaps a weight distribution hitch might be a better (and cheaper choice) than messing with the rear suspension which will affect the trucks empty rideability too.
I'll strongly second that recommendation!

A Weight Distributing Hitch does just that, moving rear axle weight to the front axle and trailer axle in proportion to the distances involved (and can also come with anti-sway far superior to the cheap friction bars...).

Other remedies, like heavier or adjustable shocks, air bags/springs, overload springs, etc., do NOT shift any weight nor do they correct the effects of the load on the front suspension and steering -- All they do is lift the BODY in the rear and provide some stiffness to the rear end -- They just give the appearance of a level tow, but not the actuality.
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