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I have an 04 Dakota 4.7 V8 4x4 with the 545RFE tranny. My plan is to swap in the 2.8 Cummins crate engine or possibly the 05 to 06 VM Motori 2.8 diesel out of the Liberty. Will the VM bolt up to my transmission? Does anyone make a bellhousing adaptor for the Cummins swap?

thanks

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Hi, wrecks2020...I did some parts referencing.  You should have a 5-45RFE (545RFE) transmission, and this was used in 2005/06 behind the 2.8L Liberty diesel.  The factory uses the same case for your 4.7L 545RFE application as the Liberty 2.8L:  Mopar P/N 04799613AB.  There is also a transmission housing adapter that the 2.8L engine must have:  05015067AA Mopar part number.

If you do the VM/Liberty engine, be sure to get the factory adapter.  It should fit your 545RFE case.  (Compare the bolt pattern.)  You'll need the correct flex plate and torque converter, too.  If you can line up a donor Liberty engine and the automatic transmission parts are still around, make a careful comparison of parts.

The VM is the easier way to go with these factory parts—if you can find a Liberty KJ donor vehicle with a diesel engine.  The Cummins alternative is currently without an adapter to the 545RFE.  Advance Adapters does some 42RLE pieces (like the RubiCrawler) and is familiar with that transmission; the Liberty used the 42RLE with gas and diesel engines prior to the 545RFE.  The Dakota also used the 42RLE before the 545RFE.  The JK Wrangler and late TJ Wrangler used the 42RLE.

Advance Adapters recommends use of electronically controlled transmissions unless you want to do the Cummins 2.8L with an AX15 or NV3550/3500 manual transmission.  An AX15 could be fitted to a Dakota pickup, Chrysler used the NV3500 in the Dakotas.  You can consult with A/A about these mate-up prospects.

Moses  

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3 hours ago, Moses Ludel said:

Hi, wrecks2020...I did some parts referencing.  You should have a 5-45RFE (545RFE) transmission, and this was used in 2005/06 behind the 2.8L Liberty diesel.  The factory uses the same case for your 4.7L 545RFE application as the Liberty 2.8L:  Mopar P/N 04799613AB.  There is also a transmission housing adapter that the 2.8L engine must have:  05015067AA Mopar part number.

If you do the VM/Liberty engine, be sure to get the factory adapter.  It should fit your 545RFE case.  (Compare the bolt pattern.)  You'll need the correct flex plate and torque converter, too.  If you can line up a donor Liberty engine and the automatic transmission parts are still around, make a careful comparison of parts.

The VM is the easier way to go with these factory parts—if you can find a Liberty KJ donor vehicle with a diesel engine.  The Cummins alternative is currently without an adapter to the 545RFE.  Advance Adapters does some 42RLE pieces (like the RubiCrawler) and is familiar with that transmission; the Liberty used the 42RLE with gas and diesel engines prior to the 545RFE.  The Dakota also used the 42RLE before the 545RFE.  The JK Wrangler and late TJ Wrangler used the 42RLE.

Advance Adapters recommends use of electronically controlled transmissions unless you want to do the Cummins 2.8L with an AX15 or NV3550/3500 manual transmission.  An AX15 could be fitted to a Dakota pickup, Chrysler used the NV3500 in the Dakotas.  You can consult with A/A about these mate-up prospects.

Moses  

This is very helpful! Thank you so much! Of course I have more questions:

1. The 545RFE is electronically controlled. If I swap in the VM 2.8, can I use it's PCM in my Dodge? And will I need a seperate transmission controller? How much of the donor Liberty will I need to do the swap? many thanks!

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This is a really good question, wrecks2020...The 5-45RFE/545RFE is controlled by the PCM, and your PCM is for a 4.7L gasoline V-8.  The 2.8L VM uses an engine controller with a different part number than your 4.7L.  You need to control both the engine and transmission (converter, too) through the PCM.

In the Advance Adapters' conversations, discussion has been aftermarket, 3rd party standalone computers for the electronic transmissions.  These controllers are available for popular G.M. transmissions like the 4L60E and 4L80E.  I am unclear whether there is an aftermarket, standalone computer for the 545RFE Chrysler transmission, though I doubt it.

So, the question is whether the 2.8L turbo diesel engine computer will work with your transmission.  The PCMs are different.  You need to run the diesel engine from the Liberty VM computer.  Here are part numbers for engine controllers, note that the part numbers are not the same.  In this comparison, using a 2006 Liberty example, the Liberty VM 2.8L chassis has a hybrid PCI/2006 CAN-Bus electrical system, the Dakota is your 2004 model year 4.7L V-8 with PCI:

Dakota vs. Liberty PCM.pdf

This raises a bigger question:  How do you use a VM/Liberty PCM/engine controller with your Dakota chassis?  You would need to study wiring diagrams for each vehicle and see whether the PCMs and plugs will interchange;  if so, will they work on each chassis?  The 2006 Liberty is a partial CAN-Bus wiring system, your 2004 Dakota is not.  This could be a big challenge around wiring and what each wire does.  So the biggest obstacle if you use a 2006 engine would be wiring and the PCM interface.

Now we've gone full circle.  In the 2017 walk-around interview of the Cummins 2.8L diesel at SEMA Show (see the magazine home page for the video), Steve Sanders explains how easily the Cummins engine will operate as a standalone unit.  That still leaves an automatic transmission with controller needs.  The prospect of either the Cummins or VM diesel engine into your Dakota chassis involves consideration for the PCM, wiring and the chassis electronics.  Also, the Liberty has a PCM and a body controller in 2006, likely reflective of hybrid CAN-Bus wiring needs.  It makes sense that the 2005 2.8L VM engine would be an easier chassis and wiring package to swap over.

Here are the PCMs for the 2005 Liberty KJ with the 2.8L VM turbo-diesel.  If you can find such an engine, transmission (for comparison purposes) and PCM, compare the wiring harnesses and color coding/schematics with your 2004 Dakota PCM and wiring system.  This is from the Cardone parts catalog:

  2.8 Liters; w/OEM #5604 4562AD
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;First Source -Call For Avail.
79-4952V
  2.8 Liters; w/OEM #5604 4562AF, 5604 4562CA thru CF or BA thru BF
Vehicle specific Flash programming req'd ON or OFF the vehicle.Accurate VIN and mileage are req'd. Additional vehicle specific on-car programming must be performed AFTER installation to prevent drivability and starting issues.;First Source -Call For Avail.
79-9962V
     

A 2005 KJ Liberty would be my focus when seeking a 2.8L VM turbo diesel and its PCM.  2005 Liberty wiring would be more like your 2004 Dakota.  (Dakota did go CAN-Bus in 2005.)  Compare wiring schematics and connectors...A place to start.

For those curious about CAN-Bus vehicles, here is a guideline:  http://www.auterraweb.com/aboutcan.html.  Also note the issues around OBD-II and post-OBD diagnostics.

Moses

 

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  • 2 years later...
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Hi, BadDecisions...I'm not sure where wrecks2020 went with this project.  We covered the VM and Dakota/Liberty components thoroughly.  The changes involving CAN-Bus and other concerns deepened the project.  Is your 2006 Dakota an automatic?  If so, there is the PCM/TCM module issue discussed at length with wrecks2020.

The Cummins engine is an option but very costly.  A swap into a TJ Wrangler can run $16K-$20K with adapters, and this currently only works with a manual transmission.  Advance Adapters took the Cummins to an AX15 adaptation (5-speed manual) then stopped there due to lack of demand.

I did a lengthy piece at the magazine on the use of a Cummins 4BT or 4 ISB in a conversion.  This is a commercial grade four-cylinder or Ram truck bellhousing pattern, which does provide some room for automatic and manual transmission applications. We're back to the wiring/PCM/TCM interface again.  

You may find this article and my conclusions helpful.  Any of these diesel swaps are expensive, which raises the bigger question whether the cost will amortize in enough fuel savings over time to pay for the swap.   Then there are emission requirements in many states, which I address at length in the article:

https://www.4wdmechanix.com/Cummins+4BT+and+4+ISB+Diesel+Engine+Conversions

At present, I'm in a holding pattern about swapping an R2.8L Cummins engine into our 1999 XJ Cherokee 4x4.  This is an AW4 (Aisin) automatic with no adapter currently available.  The AW4 has a mechanical cable throttle pressure valve (TV) rather than electric/electronic.  Advance Adapters recommends the use of a GM 700R-4 in this kind of swap, which they can mate to the Cummins R2.8L with some creative adapters.  Or I could convert the XJ to a manual transmission and readily adapt a new AX15 unit to the R2.8L Cummins.  Advance Adapters is direct sales for the Aisin AX15 and has components for mating an AX15 to the R2.8L Cummins. 

The AX15 will directly replace an NV3550.  You might explore this approach for a Dakota manual transmission if the pattern is the same.  

Moses

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  • 3 months later...

So much info and knowledge here. I just lost the engine out of my 03 Dakota. 4.7 with manual tranny. so my question is this: What is the best, light and easy Diesel engine swap that I can bolt up to my 5 speed tranny?  Also, I'm planning on being able to tow a camper so power is also a consideration.

 

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Well, rephil2316, your Dakota uses the NV3500 transmission, similar to the NV3550 used in the Wrangler TJ, which in turn will interchange with an AX15.  All of the comments regarding the R2.8L diesel conversion apply, and Advance Adapters would have the parts to mate your NV3500 to the Cummins R2.8L four. 

In my view, despite the ability of the R2.8L to be serve in vehicles like the Brazilian F350 Ford trucks, there is no substitute for cubic inches.  The engine would be more than adequate for a Dakota until you add the terms "tow" or "camper".

I have an '05 Ram 3500 with 5.9L Cummins engine and could see the Cummins 4BT or 4ISB (preferable—newer and 16-valve) getting the job done in a Dakota.  That noted, each of my comments on November 7th (above) apply.  If you could do a 4ISB swap and attach an NV4500 iron-case five speed, that could make sense—don't forget higher rate front springs!  This kind of swap involves mounts, a transmission crossmember modification, driveline changes, a radiator upgrade, exhaust system, wiring, ECU interface, and so forth—certainly not a "bolt-in" swap but possible if you have experience with engine conversions.

As for a bolt-up to your NV3500 and more straightforward swap, tested in Jeep Wrangler applications, the Cummins R2.8L would be the choice.  If emissions compliance is essential, check out the Cummins website.  Despite the low emissions technology, the swap did not have 50-State legal status as of a few years ago.  Perhaps that has changed.  I detail everything related to diesel swaps and emission issues at the link in the November 7th reply above.

Moses

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  • Moses Ludel changed the title to 2004 Dakota R2.8L Cummins Diesel Swap
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rephil2316...Aluminum diesel engines are passenger car, smaller displacement designs.  Any truck or even light truck design will have an iron block with iron or aluminum heads.  There is the 3.0L V-6 EcoDiesel that Chrysler uses in the Ram 1500.  Lots of torque (480 lb.ft.), good for a Dakota and towing.  If the engine's bellhousing pattern is a match for Chrysler Hemi V-8s or your 4.7L, this might be a possibility.  I'm not aware of any Ram light truck or Jeep using this engine with a manual transmission.

Check around about mating a manual transmission to the back of this V-6 EcoDiesel.  The torque is way too high for your current NV3500 transmission.  I would consider an NV4500 swap at the same time.  The biggest issue/obstacle would be the engine management interface with the chassis of your Dakota.  This is not like the Cummins R2.8L, a self-contained engine package that is easily placed in any chassis.  Lots of electronics on the EcoDiesel, and lots of chassis interface issues to consider.  If you are not sure about electrical and electronics work, this swap could be a rabbit hole.

Back to the 4BT or 4ISB, they have their challenges and cost is surprisingly high.  You may find that restoring the 4.7L V-8 makes the best sense.  After that work, consider your needs.  A pre-owned Ram 2500 or 3500 with an ISB 5.9L or 6.7L Cummins engine would be optimal for towing.  If you can find a 2003-up 2500/3500 Ram with a manual transmission, in good shape with a known history and reasonable mileage, that might be worthwhile.

Moses

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