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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Back on the Durango again after 2 months of nut gathering. Finally did the parts research and made the decision to use Mopar parts for the few extra bucks. The OEM parts lasted a long time, and this truck still looks nearly new underhood.

After looking into ebay stores, and half a dozen different OEM parts sites, I found the best pricing at factorymopar.com - about 10% less than anyone else. We'll see how their estimated shipping costs end up, and how long the parts take to get here before I pass judgement on a deal.

Since my water pump has been clicking since I bought this thing (not loudly and still random), and dropped a small amount of coolant once - it's time for me to learn my way around under this hood. And usually my fan clutch drags for about 5 noisy minutes as the engine warms up - which can't be good either.

So the first step with this truck is to toss in a water pump and fan clutch, clean things up some and take a look around. I wasn't impressed with aftermarket parts - and you need to be when it comes to water pumps and fan clutches. Two of my friends have lost a serpentine belt while driving, and all I can say is wow. If the water pump breaks and sends the fan forward (and sideways), it's about $800 in parts by itself. Buying cheap here amounts to buying a cheap parachute IMO.

I ordered a stock Mopar water pump, gasket, inlet tube, bypass hose, and fan clutch to get this job done right the first time. For now I'm going to try my best to reuse what's there to limit cost, and I'll be checking everything out (hoses, tensionser, belt, etc).

The stock tune-up parts are on the order also: pcv valve, dist cap, dist rotor, plug wire set, and a breather element. I stopped off at a parts shop for a set of NGK V-power plugs to keep it stock for now. This set-up should give me a clean baseline dyno pull (once it's ready for it), and it's too cheap not to do it (under $100 bucks).

Next up is getting a full set of Moog ball joints and Energy control arm bushings (in black), and R&P bushings on order. This thing just pushes it's front end all over the place, and I'm worried about it tearing up my new tires. Amazon.com had the cheapest listing on Moog joints - around $55 each. The bushing sets are around $90 together, and better come with alot of grease. The key to plastic bushings being quiet and driving well is a ridiculous amount of silicon grease. I'll have to figure out replacement shocks in the mix, but I'll get to that once I get the front end back together.

So there it is, a pile of work ahead of me and waiting for parts to come in. I also found a full set of factory service manuals on ebay today for around $85 delivered, and I hope they've got some good drawings and torque charts. It looked like a clean used set, and the service manual by itself new is about $95 shipped.

In short, I'm excited as hell to get this thing ready for a baseline dyno pull.

OG Comment: I still can't believe how easy it is to build something with the internet in front of you. I used to spend hundreds on long distance bills doing the research and ordering catalogs, and hours on the phone. It seems like a completely different planet, and it was only about 15 years ago. There was a reason it took me almost 10 years to build a GT/CS Mustang, I had to find the parts!
 

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ditch the fan clutch. the factory electric fan works great. i actually have to tune off my a/c sometimes because the motor wont get to operating temperature at idle with the a/c on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
We have a lot of hills and heat (and towing) up here so I think I'll stick with stock for now. I had a Flexalite Black Magic on my Toyota 4x, and never had a problem with it. The fan didn't help my mpg at all, but it helped power alot. After a head, cam, header, windage tray, etc, I think the fan helped more than anything I did.

Just received my manual set yesterday, so I've got that to dig through until the parts come in. I can't say I'm looking forward to pulling that fan clutch loose from the pump, tho.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Okay, parts showed up packed like crap - but they're all there. A few notes for anoyone buying stock Mopar for the cooling system:

1) make sure you order a bypass hose if you're doing a water pump (forgot mine)

2) the stock waterpump for a 5.2 or 5.9 should run you about $75

3) the stock fan clutch for a 5.2 or 5.9 should be about $76

I'll let you know if the coolant tube with the O-ring I bought will come in handy. If it's a bitch to swap and in good shape, I'll use the O-ring off it and return the tube.

I also ran across another Dodge dealer willing to deal on parts. Check out stevewhiteparts.com and they can be found on ebay also. One of the deals I'll try and catch is the stock brake pads for about $45 a pair + shipping for 03 Durango's. They'll also match prices if you go directly through them and avoid ebay and the fees.

Now to get this work done and order the front end parts - yay! As with most jobs, this one's going to sound better when it's done and finished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Bump - here's a lazy build alright - what's up friends?

I took on a few other things - suffering from a workplace accident - etc - and the Durango gathered dust in the garage instead of miles on the road.

It finally started sputtering on the half tank of fouled gas in the tank when I was idling it in the drive a few days ago. And I thought - now's a good time to do something. So here we are - and this time I'll try to drop in some pics - after re-sizing - posting to a site and then linking here. Rocket science to me.

Bear in mind that this Durango ain't the only iron in the fire, it's the one I'm trying to save mileage and weather from. I've taken on a few other projects and had to park this monster - look at the price of fuel!

So on that note, I finally did my factory tune-up, oil change and filter, and took care of the bad fuel issue for the time being. I've got a few notes I want to share on that.

Number 1 - the OEM valve cover gaskets are the most laughable POS crap gasket I've ever seen. I'll take leather over that junk, and no wonder they leaked like sponge. That said - DO NOT BUY Factory Mopar Valve Cover Gaskets - they are a bad joke. Fel-Pro makes a great set with twice the rubber to seal. I highly recommend carefully taking a razor knife, chisel (safe on iron heads) and getting a metal surface again instead of built up deposits and leak trails. Mine stopped leaking completely, and I don't miss the smell of burnt oil.

I highly recommend pulling the plugs wires completely, or doing a full tune-up while you're at it. You can almost see the distributor with the valve cover and air intake plumbing out of the way.

The Passenger side Valve Cover is seriously as simple as they come. Remove the factory airbox (air filter housing) and you have all the room in the world.

The Driver Side Valve Cover is an interesting maze of wires and hoses. It comes out best if you pull the PCV valve out, free it completely from the gasket and head, and then "roll it" back toward you to clear the rocker assemblies. I figured out ahead of time how much give everything had, and once you roll the cover back toward you, you can push it towards the front of the vehicle (underneath all the wiring, hoses, etc) and it should come out just over the top of the power steering pump.

That said, I did the plugs (NGK oem grade), factory Mopar 7mm wire set, Mopar cap and rotor - and they were all way overdue. I'm guessing it needed a good tune-up about 50k miles ago. But when I got it, it ran well enough - and there's been alot going on.

Number Two: The Factory Mopar 7mm Spark Plug Lead Set fits like crap. The coil lead is likely about 8-10 inches too short to reach the factory wirestands - epic fail - most important wire in the set. The main reason I'm using factory parts right now is to AVOID "extra issues" from ill-fitting replacement parts. I'd suggest any name brand 7mm wire set, and look for a set with full looming on them to protect them from arcing. There are none on the factory replacement set, and I pulled all the loom off the aftermarket set they replaced.

I'll be buying a new pair of MSD spark plug wire crimpers in the near future (last pair "vanished" about 15 years ago), a DIY wireset with the right leads, etc. And I think they make a coil for the ignition system on these 5.9's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 · (Edited)
Now that I've gotten that said, the stock cap and rotor are definitely nothing to scream about , but a nice change after the corroded mess that was there. As always, I took a small amount of silicone grease on a fingertip and coated all the terminals in the cap, the 2 on the rotor, and all the plug tips and boots. I wash my engines alot and hate when they run badly afterwards. The plugs all got anti-seize on the threads to avoid thread damage and catch any fine sand from falling in the cylinders when they're removed.

The good side was that all the tune-up parts I bought said Made in the USA on the labels, with the exception of NGK plugs (never failed me yet). I'll buy US made Mopar parts, even if they're owned by FIAT these days.

I used a K&N oil filter and Lucas 5W30 oil, and she starts nice. By far the easiest vehicle on the planet to do an oil change on, although I do need a stronger floor jack - mine's been a piece of junk since new (thanks Sears) and it needs to be lifting flowers in the yard somewhere.

Now that I have a larger tow vehicle and 4x4, this Durango can get back to it's street roots. I'm having the Falken STZ-01's it came on re-installed to save these high dollar Yoko AT/s, and it will save a huge amount of fuel. The AT's will go into the garage until I find some 20's with street tires that fit, and switch the stock 17's back to the AT's again.

That said, I have some cooling work to do - let alone the power window that stopped working a few months ago, the busted power seat track, etc etc. I'll try and take a break to post pics, and hope you're alive and well out there!
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 · (Edited)
Notes: Re-installed Falken ST-Z's, scrubbed them down, shined them with Armor All (no one knows the only purpose for that crap is tire wax). Worthless for anything else. Fixed the Driver Door Power Window with a Dorman Regulator/Motor Assembly - cheap, lifetime warranty, and works like new.

Towed alot better with the tune-up (go figure), and started to get an impressive mid-range back that it did not have before.

Accessories and water pump are torn down right now, it's also getting a new belt tensioner - that was OEM, too. I'll be posting pics, I PROMISE - I know how badly word threads suck - but I hate posting pics even more - mind numbing boredom.

Thermostat was 195 degrees! I'm paying close attention to my hoses, and taking the advice of others in using a 180 T-stat from now on. No cracked heads for me, please. Some of these hoses are showing heat deformity - and the cap neck is oblong, not round, now - (probably the heat also) so that had to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
The original paint is scratched, chipped, scuffed, and has never been buffed once in it's life. I've used Meguiar's Ultimate Compound on it by hand, and put a few coats of Mother's Gold wax on it - I'll be using a clay bar on the rear gate soon and waxing it over with Meguiars Ultimate Wax. I also had to remove burnt-in silver pinstripes with a rubber wheel on a drill motor.

The wheels and tires took me a full day of scrubbing and rubbing - that was previously the inside wall (showing) of the tires for a few years, and you can't tell now that they'd never been washed. Armor All and terry rags. To clean them up, they rode to the car wash in the back of the truck, and got the tire/engine cleaner (simple green) spray and soak, and scrub, then pressure washed - dried at home - and then hauled down to the tire shop in the back of the Durango. Mounted up reversed of what they were before (right/left swap - directional tread), and now looking like they've always been that way.

ps. Front Brakes are still toast. :-D
 

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Good stuff. excited to see results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
update: Successfully moved to Missouri, Durango ran like a champ the whole way and the trip cleaned it out.

Just before leaving out I had the axles and xfer case serviced, a few notes on that.

Regardless of what the lube company VIN computer says, the 8.25" rear end DOES take limited slip additive (if limited slip) - doesn't hurt to add the stuff if you're not sure according to Dodge.

The A/T DOES need to be checked in Neutral (not Park) as I had wondered about - be sure to set your parking brake.

An AWD R/T will actually do front wheel burnouts (when turning) bone stock if it's running right.

And the stock 2.5" exhaust is poop - I thought it was 3" until I had to replace a clamp and got a better look - that'll be changing soon. In the past I've paid for alot of different exhaust systems, and the fact that some moron came up with 2.5" totally shows that they had no idea what they were doing in that department. I normally run 2.5" on a V6 up to about 4.2L - anything above that (in cylinders or displacement) gets a minimum of a 3" single. Duals sound good, but there's no room under these things :huh:
 

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Nice man! I am just getting started on a durango build myself. We have a one year old so I can't really carry the family around in the dakota. Mine is a black 2000 with a 5.2. It is two wheel drive with a 3.55 geared 9.25. I have had it for about a year and drive it daily. I bought it from the original owners that ran it hot and killed a head. I also have plans for a torqe monster 408 in the future when the 318 dies. Sorry to take up your thread but I am stoked to see your progress. :drive:
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Nice man! I am just getting started on a durango build myself. We have a one year old so I can't really carry the family around in the dakota. Mine is a black 2000 with a 5.2. It is two wheel drive with a 3.55 geared 9.25. I have had it for about a year and drive it daily. I bought it from the original owners that ran it hot and killed a head. I also have plans for a torqe monster 408 in the future when the 318 dies. Sorry to take up your thread but I am stoked to see your progress. :drive:
Sounds like a great setup, what's your highway mpg?
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
2.5" is plenty fine for a stock motor. The cats and all the bends in the exhaust is what makes it poop lol
Maybe for a straight pipe from each head about 2 feet long :funny:

The bends and kinks in a vehicle with this much motor are EXACTLY the reason it needs more than 2.5" exhaust. The smell of the exhaust coming from this thing tells me a few things, one - the Y-pipe is leaking (also pops when it's hot). And due to the Y-pipe leaking, it's probably getting some ridiculous 02 readings and pressure variations. In order to straighten all that out, I'll probably have it replaced (with stock size) - it looks like rusted crap - and have a sweep bend installed on the driver side to replace the near 90deg kink in the stock pipe, better than stock Y to 3" instead of 2.5", aftermarket 3" universal cat, and then see what we can clean up going back in 3". There's alot of close quarters and heat shields, so it'll be expensive and time consuming - but a Borla kit taught me long ago (and about 5 others) that there's no such thing as a good system that comes in a box. And the other issue I've got is I want it quiet, and a may have to add a resonator downstream of the single muffler. I'll look into a few sources because quiet also runs hot, and heat destroys mufflers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
KYB Silver Shocks are PERFECT

I wanted to make sure I mentioned that I installed a set of KYB Silver (street performance, you can buy KYB Red if you want truck stiff) about 1,000 miles ago, and this thing rides well. Really well, as in 115mph in highway curves well (kids don't try this at home, and the usual warnings).

The application catalog on their website is correct, and the shocks came with the right bushings (sleeved permanent). Amazon dropped them (with Prime) on my doorstop in 2 days flat in huge padded boxes.

But here's a warning - DO NOT listen to Amazon's application guide, thing told me the manufacturer number was wrong without asking a VIN on the vehicle or 2wd,4wd,AWD,etc - hmmmmm.

Get your numbers from KYB's website, and you will be impressed.
 
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