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2003 Dakota Sport
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75 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I installed a DJM 3/5 kit this week. I cut half a coil off the front springs to get a 4/5 drop. I used Belltech Street Performance shocks. Everything fit well, but that DJM kit was a nightmare to install. Nothing wrong with the kit; it's just that those rear spring hangers were terrible to work with. Getting a grinder on all the rivets was really challenging and the air chisel took forever to get the heads off. The whole process took me a few days, but I was working by myself in the driveway. Check out how chewed up the original hangers got:



But anyway, here's the truck:







It rides pretty stiff, but not terrible. No hitting the bumpstops yet, which is good. I really like the way it turned out. I'd prefer it be another inch or two lower in the rear, but then the frame would be almost on the axle and that'd be no fun. No c-notch yet. At this point, I don't think it needs one.
 

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02 4.7l Dakota
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Wow, that's sharp! Just needs some R/T rims or maybe just paint the stocks 馃憤
 

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I installed a DJM 3/5 kit this week. I cut half a coil off the front springs to get a 4/5 drop. I used Belltech Street Performance shocks. Everything fit well, but that DJM kit was a nightmare to install. Nothing wrong with the kit; it's just that those rear spring hangers were terrible to work with. Getting a grinder on all the rivets was really challenging and the air chisel took forever to get the heads off. The whole process took me a few days, but I was working by myself in the driveway. Check out how chewed up the original hangers got:



But anyway, here's the truck:







It rides pretty stiff, but not terrible. No hitting the bumpstops yet, which is good. I really like the way it turned out. I'd prefer it be another inch or two lower in the rear, but then the frame would be almost on the axle and that'd be no fun. No c-notch yet. At this point, I don't think it needs one.
Nicely done Jeremy. Like 02Gen said, it looks really sharp. What kit did you use, how much, and what all did you have to do?
Just an idea, I happened to stumble upon this guy's walk through instructions of how to customize a Dodge pickup's grill. He took the metal screening used on safety doors (in case you don't know they are like a typical screen door on a house but made with a square steel frame and a steel screen or mesh is tack welded on it) and cut, bent, and formed it inside the plastic grille opening. I have been meaning to do that to my wife's Dakota but there are more pressing issues, such as it just running lol. I'll try to find that guy's instructions and upload the pics or at least find a link. You may not like what he did but ya never know. I liked his idea but then along came the new style Durangos and I would love to take the front (lights, bumper, grill) and transplant it on my wife's '03 Dakota, but...
Again, great job
 

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02 4.7l Dakota
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Nicely done Jeremy. Like 02Gen said, it looks really sharp. What kit did you use, how much, and what all did you have to do?
Just an idea, I happened to stumble upon this guy's walk through instructions of how to customize a Dodge pickup's grill. He took the metal screening used on safety doors (in case you don't know they are like a typical screen door on a house but made with a square steel frame and a steel screen or mesh is tack welded on it) and cut, bent, and formed it inside the plastic grille opening. I have been meaning to do that to my wife's Dakota but there are more pressing issues, such as it just running lol. I'll try to find that guy's instructions and upload the pics or at least find a link. You may not like what he did but ya never know. I liked his idea but then along came the new style Durangos and I would love to take the front (lights, bumper, grill) and transplant it on my wife's '03 Dakota, but...
Again, great job
Yes, that鈥檚 a very good, cheap mod I recommend. You can use a piece of gutter guard from Lowe鈥檚 or Home Depot. I went all out and did just a grille shell filled with aluminum mesh, and I鈥檒l make a stencil and paint a Ram badge on my AC condenser behind it in the same green my truck is painted. But now I have the same problem as you, gotta get it running first 馃槀

Here鈥檚 the only pic I have handy of my grille, from when the zip ties were still in while the glue was drying. I still need to refinish it since my first paint job got rained on. And also a link to a write up I saw suggested in this thread.

110996
 

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2003 Dakota Sport
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75 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I used the DJM 3/5 kit, which cost about $700 after shipping. I cut half a coil off the stock springs to get and extra inch out front, so it's a 4/5 drop. I also added Belltech Street Performance shocks, which were another $225 plus tax. I've got about $950 into the suspension total. Plus about 26 hours worth of install time, but I work slow and take a lot of breaks.

The front was a bolt-on affair, with DJM lower control arms, plus the time to cut half a coil off the front springs with a cut off wheel and a grinder. The rear was a nightmare. You have to remove sixteen large rivets from the stock spring hangers and then bolt new ones on in their place. Lots and lots of work.
 

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I used the Belltech 2/4 kit with the lowered rear hangers and 2" front shocks on my 2002 Dakota SXT. To be honest you can't even tell it's lowered. I had a shop do it as I didn't want to go through the hassle. When I first had it done, it was a horribly rough ride, however here's a bit of advise. In the rear, add some shock extenders. I used Belltech Nitro Drop shocks in the rear thinking it would be enough, and it was still harsh. Once I added the rear shock extenders, it was a night and day difference. I suggest getting a set for sure, I picked mine up on eBay. I also made sure to use the Nitro Drop shocks in the front with the 2" drop coils. Truck isn't as low as I want, but rides amazingly well.
 

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FYI, I had the DJM 3" lowered control arms on the front before I swapped out for the Belltech 2" Springs. Ride was good, but every now and then, the lowered spring pocket would scrape over a bump or dip. I loved the look, but hated the scraping sound and was always paranoid about bumps and dips. In the end, just thought it wasn't worth it.
 

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2003 Dakota Sport
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have a set of shock extenders ready to go on. I just haven't made the time to put them on yet.

I am concerned about the height of the control arms. They do hang pretty low. I've heard about people hitting man hole covers and breaking them before, so I'm going to be hyper vigilant when I'm driving. It's too bad they're the only option other than springs, to lower the front. I wish someone would make spindles.
 

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Yes, that鈥檚 a very good, cheap mod I recommend. You can use a piece of gutter guard from Lowe鈥檚 or Home Depot. I went all out and did just a grille shell filled with aluminum mesh, and I鈥檒l make a stencil and paint a Ram badge on my AC condenser behind it in the same green my truck is painted. But now I have the same problem as you, gotta get it running first 馃槀

Here鈥檚 the only pic I have handy of my grille, from when the zip ties were still in while the glue was drying. I still need to refinish it since my first paint job got rained on. And also a link to a write up I saw suggested in this thread.

View attachment 110996
Cool idea. I always like thinking outside the box. I never thought of using gutter mesh at Lowes. That said, my dad always told me, when he was working on a project, that he'd ask different people for their opinions or ideas. He'd say that it didn't mean he was going to use anyone's suggestions; that he may like their whole suggestion, or none of it, or he may like part of it. But he then had multiple views, ideas, opinions, or whatnot instead of just one, his own. That's a bit long winded but I hope you get my point. So I like asking people what they think or what they'd do.
By the way, here's the link for the grille model using safety door steel screen or mesh. It used to be sold by Lowes. It came in 4 x 8 sheets for roughly $15 next to the paneling sheets. But apparently they stopped selling it.

 

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2003 Dakota Sport
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks. I'm going to paint the stockers first. Then something bigger will happen later.
I painted the stock rims to hold me over until I can find some decent aftermarket wheels. I think it turned out pretty well.

 

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02 4.7l Dakota
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Wow that鈥檚 super slick! Did you just use duplicolor or what?
 

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2003 Dakota Sport
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75 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Krylon appliance epoxy. It's basically just super thick black spray paint. It goes on smooth and shiny and it's really tough. Not the first set of wheels I've painted with it. I like it better than the wheel-specific paint that's out there. That stuff tends to flake off easier and is a little harder to apply smoothly.
 
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