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2001 Dakota Quad Cab 4.7 HEMI Swap - Build Thread

22068 Views 115 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  McMopar
Hey all, new to this forum.

I currently own a Dakota Quad Cab 2wd w/4.7L V8 16tooth. 143K miles. Ran into engine troubles about a month ago and finally figured out I had loss of compression in cylinder 2. I'm about to rip the engine out and rebuild it, but then I got to doing research and it seems that even if I rebuild or find out whats wrong, there's no real way to make the engine not have this exact same issue down the road, even if I buy a rebuilt motor with a warranty (Which is $2000+). Finding a low mileage 16 tooth used 4.7, if i'm lucky, is running me easily $1500, and thats for 140k+

I started seeing that people were dropping 5.7L HEMI's into the Dakota and that it has its challenges, but it also isn't that insurmountable. I've only had this truck for 3 months, but I want it to last me a while, mainly because I love this style body and look. I want to put in an engine that is going to give me a good long life and be repairable much easier than the 4.7.

At any rate, I figured it was time for someone else to do another HEMI swap, so here I am volunteering. My plan is to document this and answer ALOT of the questions that I have and probably others as well. I have been full on researching this for around 3 weeks now and finding ALL of the information in one concise spot is futile at best. There's a wealth of information, but you have to know where to find it. At any rate, i'm going to compile it here and I am open to correction and suggestions, in the hope that others can use this knowledge.

So here's where I am currently at. Please confirm or correct what I have below. Again, this is not just for me, but anyone.

  • Target Dakota
    • 2001 Dakota Quad Cab 4.7 2WD
  • Donor Vehicle
    • 2005 Durango 5.7L
    • Need Engine
    • Need Accelerator pedal for DBW Conversion
  • Questions
    • What year engine is the best for swapping into the 2001 Dakota
      • 03-08 HEMI
  • Does it matter if I get a car engine or a truck engine?
    • Truck engine - the car engine seems to be tapped differently at the motor mounts, and will be problematic for the Dakota
    • Donor 04-05 Durango's seem to be the preferred source
    • Engine is confirmed to be in the truck configuration, which allows the use of the aftermarket motor mount conversion.
  • What model transmission do I have in the Dakota? How do I tell?
    • 45RFE
    • Durango comes with a 545RFE, which is supposedly identical to the 45RFE, but has a different programming. If you plug the 45RFE into a RAM ECM, it becomes a 545RFE
    • What Dakota transmissions mate up to the Hemi without issue?
      • 45RFE
      • manual?
  • What model ECM should be used
    • I have heard that people are using the Dakota ECM to run the HEMI. I am not going that route, but would like to collect that information for others
    • How does this mate up to a HEMI, or can this even mate up to run the HEMI (with programming).
      • TBD
  • Should I grab the Donor 05 Durango's ECM with the engine and use that instead?
    • No - problematic and also a 2 wire bus system, not 1 wire which is what Dakota needs
  • Is there a wiring harness I can buy that is prebuilt or can someone/some company build it for me?
    • Hotwires - expensive ~2300
    • Derek502 is building a kit that will be easy to mate to an existing dakota harness via two automotive grade connectors. He is currently working it out for the 01-02 Dakotas and the 03-04 are next. When he gets done he will be able to sell the harness, connector and ECM as well as program the ECM for your truck.
  • Need 04-05 RAM ECM
    • Removes need for separate TCM on the Dakota, ECM will run trans, which is why Ram Wiring harness is key.
    • Need to make sure you get one that does NOT have SKIM on it, which is the key fob security programming that shuts off the engine if you try to hotwire it.
      • Derek502 sells a kit and can find you an ECM and harness and will do the programming of it for you.
  • Need 04-05 Ram Wiring Harness
    • Minimal conversion necessary, especially for transmission, plugs mate right up.
    • Working on full wiring diagram and spreadsheet of connection mapping, using what Derek502 has and others.
  • Engine Questions
  • Engine mounts
  • Oil Pan and pickup replacement to fit Dakota
    • The following will work for a 2WD Dakota Only. Milodon Says it will work for the 4x4 but we have users here that report otherwise.
    • Milodon
  • Does the exhaust manifold mate up exactly or do I need to modify it to fit?
    • I was looking at getting the Schumaker Creative Services Hemi Package, and he was building Headers specifically for this, but it seems they may be out of business or not fulfilling orders. Is there another company that I could get a complete kit from? I haven't currently seen anyone else selling a complete Hemi Swap kit, Schumaker was the closest thing, and he didn’t handle any of the electrical.
    • Schumaker seems to be out of business, I also have seen posts on FB where others bought the Ceramic coated manifolds and the coating is already rusting off after less than a year.
    • Currently there is NO confirmed manifold that will work. I am looking at the Durango or Jeep Grand Cherokee manifolds to see if they will mate or get close to it. From there i am going to try and find a spacer online that will mate it up the rest of the way.
    • The O2 sensors MUST be changed, they will not work from the 4.7. Make sure to purchase 05 ram Sensors all around.
  • Is there a drive by wire conversion for the accelerator pedal? Id much rather not run the wire into a converter, but I am open to that if it’s the best way.
    • (Recommended) 2008 Dakota DBW pedal will work. You need to be sure and get it with the metal plate it mounts to, as that will literally bolt right in with no issues.
    • You can use 2005 Durango DBW pedal, but if so, you must drill the firewall for it to work
      • IMPORTANT!!!!!!! Mount Pedal BEFORE you install engine, holes need to be drilled for top mounting and it can't be done with engine installed
      • Test placement to be sure that it is in the right area with no obstructions.
    • Tony.vot tried the Ram 1500 Pedal and it is too large, mainly due to the size of the Ram Cab.
  • Fuel Rail Conversion
  • Flexplate, Flat Metal Dust cover, and Starter
    • It is recommended to use the flexplate, the flat metal dust cover (between the engine and transmission) and the starter off of the 4.7. The Durango Hemi has the starter mounted on the passenger side and there's no room for it in the Dakota engine bay. By using the 4.7 flexplate and dust cover plate, you can then use the 4.7 starter on the drivers side and it works perfectly.
    • The Flat metal dust Cover from the 4.7 MUST be modified slightly to work with the hemi. i have detailed how later in the post.
  • Bottom oil pan bell housing dust cover
    • If you want to re-use the stock bottom dust cover(thick aluminum) on the bell housing, you need to modify it to work with the milodon pan. I added pictures of what you need to do to make it fit. You also need to cut two of the bolts for it so that it doesnt rub a hole into the oil pan.
  • When I pull the Motor out of the Durango (it’s a running/driving Durango) is there anything I should do to the motor immediately (manufacturer defects, timing chain replacement, xyz replacement because the engine is out and its easy, etc)
    • Depends completely on target use case or engine condition at time it was acquired.
    • My engine is purring like a kitten and makes no strange sounds or noises and has no rough idle or anything.
  • Common Issues
    • Valve Springs
      • The Factory springs are supposedly a failure point and should be replaced regardless of what age or mileage the engine is.
    • Valve Seats
      • This is an issue due to overheating of the engine and the factory Seats can drop out of their home. According to my machinist they just need to be "Pinged" back in and will do fine or can also be replaced.
    • Lifters
      • They are notorious for going bad and should be replaced if original. some will even eat away the cam and destroy it. Best to replace while the engine is apart.
  • Here's my current plan
    • Water pump
    • Idler pulleys
    • Tensioner pulley and assembly
    • Pull valve covers and Inspect
    • Pulls heads and inspect
    • Milodon oil pan and above parts (required)
    • Intake manifold Bolts
    • Valve Cover Bolts
      • I went with DIYHEMI Billet Hold down's for the valve cover bolts. Way more cost effective and look nicer than the Holley ones I bought that were black allen bolts.
      • Billet Valve Cover Hardware | Mysite
    • Valve Springs
    • Valve Stem Seals
    • Valve Seats checked
    • Valves
    • Timing chain and sprockets
    • Iridium Spark Plugs
    • New plug wires
    • Lifters
    • Head Gasket
    • Front Timing Seal
    • Rear Main Seal
    • Rod Bearings
    • Main Cap Bearings
    • Piston Rings
    • Oil pump
As questions are answered and things progress I will be re-posting the completed answers as a reference for others going forward.

Lets dig in!
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I havent posted forever but i got my password fixed. In my time doing what i can to figure out how to put a gen 3 hemi in my 2001 dakota 4x4. I joined a facebook site and someone there has worked with milodon to make their oil pan work on 2 wheel and 4 wheel drives. he also has punched up motor mounts for a 4x4 as well. i Have to figure out how to contact him again but i ordered the oil pan and needed parts so i will tell you how it looks when i get it. JPM
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i have to figure out the name i cant seem to get back to where i was on facebook, i am just learning it. I talked to a person at milidon and he said they made the changes and it is the same part number. will know in a while. JPM
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