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My g/f has a '97 Dakota, and another friend has a '00 Dakota Sport, both of which have the exact same problem. In both trucks the interior dome light is inoperable, as are the bed lights (white lights on either side of the third brake light) and there are no blown fuses in either vehicle. (Yes, I checked the bulbs!) In both cases the interior floor lights come on just fine, and both owners report that for a few months the lights were intermittant, sometimes they'd work, sometimes not, which gradualy escalated to the point where the lights will not come on at all.

Before I go and replace the switch I'd like to know if this is a common problem with the Gen III Dakotas, and if so, what remedies have been developed.
 

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Sounds like a loose switch or wire to me.
 
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I'm inclined to think it's an issue with the dome switch portion of the rehostat (dimmer) on the headlight switch. I've not gotten under the dash with a test light yet, so I can't say for certain. I just figured it couldn't hurt to post a general question about it, especially since it's the same problem with two different vehicles. That made me suspect it might be a very common problem, and that there may be an updated part for it, or a TSB by Dodge concerning it.
 
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Aha! I think I may have found a relevant TSB (08-10-98)

Here's the details:

Electrical - Multiple Systems Inoperative

NO: 08-10-98
GROUP: Electrical
DATE: Mar. 13, 1998

SUBJECT:
G202 Ground Diagnosis

MODELS:
1997-1998 (AN) Dakota
1998 (DN) Durango

DISCUSSION:

Inspect the G202 ground connection when multiple electrical complaints are encountered, such as the following:

Blower Motor Inoperative
Power Door Locks Inoperative
Dome Light Inoperative
Chime Inoperative
Keyless Entry Inoperative
Cigar Lighter Inoperative
Power Outlet Inoperative
Console Lights Inoperative
Radio Inoperative
Overhead Console Inoperative
Instrument Cluster Gauges Inoperative

The G202 ground connection uses the same bolt that secures the right and left lower instrument panel to the side cowl panel (Figure 1). After verifying that the mating surfaces of the ground connections are good, re-torque both right and left lower instrument panel bolts to 28 N.m (250 in. lbs.).


And the diagram:
 
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