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2001 Dakota Quad Cab 4.7 HEMI Swap - Build Thread

22069 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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Folks, I thought that pan was my answer, but......it was too low for the oil pickup. Luckily I have a few Hemi pans, the new and improved one might be done today. I'll supply pictures and dimensions once finished. I could have "fixed" the one above, but decided to start over. It fits the truck perfectly!
Too low? It should be stock height, correct?
Or are you saying that it's too far back for the pick up tube to reach?
The others I saw do this, extended the tube by about an inch or two.
I cut the pan down to low, so where the tube bolts to the main Stud was hitting
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Info on options for headers...
-Stock ram manifolds work fine.
-Durango set headers most likely fit with 4x4
-Schumaker makes a set of long tube headers, but the fitment on the passenger side isn't very good and the quality of the headers themselves has been said to be pretty shitty. View attachment 110043
-There are some cheap shorty headers you can get off eBay that fit with a little ding on a tube on the passenger side. I believe the brand name ones are OBX. View attachment 110041
-Pacesetter mid length headers seem to fit. Although I believe they require a bit of hammer action on the passenger side also. Someone with a 4x4 said they had to grind the top of a motor mount bolt for fitment, but it isn't a primary bolt and didn't require any pinging.
-JBA headers I think have the same fitment as the pacesetters.
-It looks like any shorty headers will fit. View attachment 110042
-Having some custom made is also an option, but probably pretty expensive.
-I won't be able to confirm this until my swap is done, but evidently there are a couple more options for the 4x4 trucks due to more space available.
**I'm not a professional motor builder, so I don't know this for fact... But someone said that the benefits of headers only come in at around 5500rpm. So unless you're racing your truck, stock manifolds are just fine and what I plan on keeping in mine.
From everything I’ve read & seen, the Hemi truck engines with aluminum heads and cast-iron factory exhaust manifolds are MURDER on exhaust manifold bolts. Specifically, they all end up breaking bolts & develop exhaust leaks on both the driver & passenger sides, typically at the rear. Replacement with stainless steel bolts is an option, but even those eventually break (1-4 years is the timeframe I’ve read), and the speculation is it’s an issue of uneven heat dissipation (heads are aluminum & manifolds are cast iron), causing the manifolds to warp just enough to sheer the bolts off. You can typically see this at any auto wreckers - walk around and touch the heat shields on Hemi Ram & Durango and note they are almost all completely loose at the rear end because of broken bolts. See the multitude of YouTube videos on how to remove broken Hemi exhaust manifold bolts.
Anyway, all this would seem to suggest that aluminum headers to replace the stock manifolds would be a good idea.
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Aluminum headers????? Lol ok
It’s certainly an option. Or stainless steel. Just not the poorly designed stock cast iron variants.

Or have fun removing broken header bolts & replacing gaskets every 2-3 years.
I’d love to see a set of aluminum headers, don’t think they will handle the heat. But I’d love for you to prove me wrong
I’d love to see a set of aluminum headers, don’t think they will handle the heat. But I’d love for you to prove me wrong
I should have said aluminized steel. Like these: BBK RAM 1-3/4 in. Tuned Length Shorty Headers - Chrome 4014 (09-18 5.7L RAM 1500)
Those are the headers I bought. But I opted for the ceramic coated ones. I should have them next Friday.
Awesome write up here guys! been roaming the interwebs trying to find a more condensed list of what's needed to do the swap and you have nailed it so far (y)
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sorry for not posting in a while - life...
I made some updates to the first post as follows:
  • Updated notes on ECM
  • Updated notes on SKIM programming of ECM
  • Updated Exhaust manifold notes
  • Updated O2 Sensor requirements
  • DBW conversion notes - durango pedal is too big
  • Valve cover bolts - DIYHEMI
  • Flexplate notes added
  • Bottom bell housing dust cover notes added
  • Engine rebuild notes updated


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Here's are photos of the Milodon pan and aluminum Dust cover modification


you need to get rid of the Lip on both sides until the side is perfectly flat. you will see this in further pictures





Once you get it notched right, it fits perfectly as you can see.


you will notice that the top bolts get VERY close to the rear of the oil pan, you need to shave them off so that it doesn't rub against it. You will also have to modify the two bolts so they aren't as long. Otherwise you will rub a hole into the pan over time.

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significantly better. after this and cutting a sliver of the bolt end off, there is no rub.
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Here's the Modification you need to do to the Windage tray and The oil pan from Milodon.



As you can see above, it sits right on top of it, and what you can't see is that the Windage tray is blocking the bolt holes for the dust cover.

I measured, and you only really need to remove 1/4" from either side. you have to do this to BOTH the windage tray and the oil pan itself. I asked milodon if this would be an issue and they said no that is perfectly fine and shouldn't affect the structural integrity of the pan.





You need to also modify both gasket's for the removed sections. Just use a razor.

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Once done, it fits, along with the Dust cover. Voila!
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