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jintia

1997 Dodge Dakota 318 magnum SLT 4x4

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Hi I am about to begin restoring this pickup and adding some extra goodies to make it a better truck, but I do not like the auto transmission it has. Being in a cold climate area in the winter, it doesn't like to shift into overdrive when its 10 below zero and colder. I would like to change it out for a 5 speed manual but is that even worth thinking about? I am good with mechanics but not sure if I want to do it if it means a new harness or new transfer case and drive shafts and such. Can this be done without a complete revamping of the drivetrain ?

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Welcome to the forums, jintia!  I think your plan is possible, though there is considerable work involved.  You need a 4x4 manual transmission donor vehicle to serve as a prototype for the changes needed.  The clutch pedal linkage and transmission changeover would be basic.  The PCM and harnesses get more involved.  You have the automatic transmission control module input now.  The changes must address the chassis/electrical differences, engine MIL/check lights, etc.

I'll contact biggman100 and see whether he has time to comment.  He knows the ins-and-outs of the Dakota, including engine swaps and other major changes.  Let's see what he has to share...

Moses

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Jintia, welcome. The swap is possible, but, you would need a complete donor truck, as you would need the transmission, clutch, flywheel, ECM/PCM, complete wiring harness, clutch pedal assembly, gauge cluster (there are minor differences with the auto and manual gauge cluster, such as the shift light), and may also need the transfer case and driveshafts. Another potential issue is that if you have an automatic truck cab, it may be designed a bit different, and the clutch pedal and components may not be able to work with your cab. There are differences in the 1991 to 1996 manual and automatic cabs firewall design, same with the 2001 to 2004, the biggest being, the holes needed for the clutch assembly arent there on the automatic cabs, and neither is the bracing needed for the clutch pedal. If you are having issues with it not going into overdrive when it is very cold, my first question would be, does it have the correct fluid in it? All Dakota automatics up to 2004 take ATF+4, and, from experience, i know that if you run any other fluid in it, it will act funny, especially as it gets colder. I use a 1995 Dakota in the northeast as a plow truck, and, every 3 years, i replace the fluid and filter, and always use a good quality ATF+4.  

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Bummer lol, I was hoping it would be more simple, I dont want to half to change over the transfer case and harness let alone the cab lol, ok, I will just have to buy another truck with a 5 speed and fix that up, not worth all the hassle. I will take it in and get the tranny flushed and replace the filter and fluid and see if that helps for next winter. Thanks guys for all the help its great having you here to stop us from getting into trouble :)

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