really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,247 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Dodge Dakota drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2003 Dodge Dakota Owner Comments

problem #12

Apr 062014


  • 128,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Dakota. The contact stated that the key fob failed to lock and unlock the vehicle. Additionally, the driver's side master window control was also inoperable and the doors could not be locked or unlocked. The contact then started the engine and the 4-wheel drive warning light illuminated. The headlights and tail lights had also failed to illuminate. The vehicle was taken the dealer for diagnosis where the dealer stated that the central timer module would need to be repaired. The contact referenced NHTSA campaign number: 02V322000 (exterior lighting) however, the contact was advised by the manufacturer that the VIN was not included in the recall campaign. The contact believed that the failure described in the recall was the same failure that had been experienced with his vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 128,000.

- Columbus , OH, USA

problem #11

Oct 052012

Dakota 4WD 8-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
When driving down the road straight no curve, the rear axle of my truck on the passenger side broke off and lost control of the vehicle fortunately, there was no traffic near by while vehicle was moving uncontrolled down the road. In a coincidence Dodge is have a recall of same issue for only the 2009 and 2010 models.

- Sun Prairie, WI, USA

problem #10

Sep 302012


  • 100,012 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Dodge Dakota. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the rear axle pinion nut became loose. The axle then seized without warning, causing the contact to lose control of the vehicle momentarily. The manufacturer was notified of the issue but offered no assistance. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis and was repaired. The failure mileage was 100,012 and the current mileage was 100,205.

- Norawlk, CT, USA

problem #9

Aug 082007

Dakota 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


2003 Dodge Dakota, 2wd, 5 spd manual, V6. At speeds from 15 mph and up the brake system seems to fail as the truck jumps and skids very rapidly. The first time this happened I was on the freeway, traffic came to a halt quickly, I applied the brakes and almost lost control and hit the car in front of me as this jumping and skidding occured. All parts on the truck are factory and have not been modified. I am concerned and wondering if this has anything to do with the front suspension clunking.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #8

Feb 162006

Dakota 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
I was caught in an ice storm in my 2003, Dodge Dakota, 4X4 quad cab. The truck went into a slight spin and bumped a small curb then slid up over the curb. I was only traveling at approx. 5 mph when I bumped the curb. The axle sheared off and broke the hub, rotor, wheel, tire, and bent the axle housing. The truck was rendered undrivable and was towed to a Dodge dealership for repairs. I called DaimlerChrysler and asked for the parts to be tested for defectiveness. I had seen several web sites devoted to axles put into Dodge trucks that were known to DaimlerChrysler to be defective due to poor heat treating. I was treated very rudely and the problem was not addressed. Since the accident, I have had several mechanics and machinists look at this axle and all say that it should have never broken under the circumstances it was subjected to. I am now afraid to drive this vehicle, fearing that the rest of the axles are also defective. I am getting no satisfaction in solving this problem and my own insurance had to pay the $3,000. Damage caused by a 5 mph bump.

- Camanche, IA, USA

problem #7

Jun 012004

Dakota 6-cyl

  • miles
Various problems with 2003 Dodge Dakota. There were backfires at times, the pedal would barely move at stop signs, when backing out, the vehicle would stay in second gear for a long period of time and the consumer would have to let off of the gas pedal then shift into high gear, sometimes the vehicle wouldn't shift into overdrive, then as soon as it started to misfire, the vehicle would drop to overdrive, the cruise control was inoperative, there was a whine and or howl in the rear differential around 50 mph, the engine light would never come on, sometimes the shift lever would be placed in park and the vehicle would start, at times when shifting to reverse or drive, the vehicle would not move and the would have to be jerked around on the shift lever, the heater controls were inoperative, and there were noises when the lights on the radio were turned on. The valve on the transmission was change and helped the vehicle, but sometimes when the vehicle was shifted up or down in gear it would be a problem.

- Eldorado, WI, USA

problem #6

Nov 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles


When the truck is started and put into drive it hesitates then shifts really hard. Also when the truck is started and allowed to warm up for around three minutes it dies when it is put in reverse. When it does this none of the lights on the instrument panel come on. The truck just dies. I have had the truck into the dealership four times now. The first time I took it in, the dealership told me that they couldn't get the problem to replicate and told me to bring it back when it got worse. I am now on my forth attempt to get the problem fixed and they are continuing to tell me that they can't get the problem to replicate. So I went to the dealership and replicated the problem for them. That was on 10-27-03. It is now 11-06-03 and they called me today to tell me that they still can't get the truck to replicate. But they have hooked up a "co-Pilot" which will read the trucks computer and hopefully catch the problem. I am having a really hard time believing that they can't replicate the problem. I have had the truck for three months now and the damn thing has died every single time I have put it in reverse. I am positive that I am being bent over. I know that I will never buy another Chrysler again.

- Mcclure, MO, USA

problem #5

May 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,571 miles
Transmission will not shift from 2nd to 3rd gear when climbing grades. Also truck will stall out with no warning or check engine lights.

- Linden, NJ, USA

problem #4

Oct 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,100 miles
Peeling paint from front grille assembly. Also at 10600 miles the transmission shifts hard. Both upshifts and downshifts cause a noise and a slight hesitation, followed by a very harsh shift. And the engine seems to engage the electric heat/exchanger fan assembly causing a tremendous amount of cab noise. No temperature change has been detected with the dash gauges when the electric radiator has engaged. Very noisy. There will be a follow up letter after the truck is taken to the dealer. Oct. 5th, 2003. 2:30 pm mst

- Park City, UT, USA

problem #3

Aug 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,500 miles
Transmission intermittently jerks/shudders when accelerating around 30-40 mph.

- St. Ann, MO, USA

problem #2

Nov 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
We have recently submitted a claim to the bureau of automotive repairs. Our truck has been in the shop 6 times for the same and new problems. We bought this vehicle in June with 12 miles on it. They recently had our vehicle for 3 days in a row and wanted to keep it for a 4th day, however we declined. Below please find a list of the problems: 1) loud howling noise when backing up in reverse 2) slips out of gear when in reverse or drive 3) idles roughly 4) occasionally dies when backing in reverse or going forward 5) wheel well guards are starting to peel away 6) runs in the paint job 7) there was electrical wiring issues 8) transmission issues

- Cotati, CA, USA

problem #1

Jul 102003

Dakota 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 778 miles
Vehicle (1)shifts harshly, (2)does not upshift smoothly/upshifts at excessive RPM, (3)stalls when making low-speed left-hand turns, (4)idles roughly, (5)fails to maintain speed in cruise control, (6)downshifts harshly after losing speed in cruise control, (7)transmission gear indicator did not indicate actual gear vehicle was in, (8)vehicle failed to shift from reverse to park, and from park to reverse, and (9)vehicle emergency brake failed to release, then failed to hold.

- Attleboro, MA, USA

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