I own a 2003 Dakota, great truck that I have owned for 8 years. The only significant issues that I have ever had with it all pertain to the coolant system. I have a few questions for the more mechanics out there.
My first question is this: does anyone know if the 2nd Gen Dakotas are notorious for coolant system problems or if I just happen to be lucky?
Second, there is a small antifreeze leak on the water pump inlet tube. (Or what I ASSUME is the inlet tube, it is located on the upper right hand side of the water pump as you are facing the water pump with the hood open.) After cleaning the leaking coolant off the water pump facing, I wiggled the tube a bit and saw that a small amount of coolant leaked out again. It is my assumption that there is a problem with an o-ring or gasket that is on the water pump side of this tube. Has anyone had ANY experience replacing these tubes? If so, are there an tricks to doing so?
Last, the water pump has been replaced within the last five years. It may be that the water pump is bad also, if that be the case, I think I would have leaks in more places than just the inlet tube.
Thanks for any info.
Sparkchaser, aka Kevin
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A dealership replaced the water pump the last time but I do believe it has been around 3-4 years, maybe as many as five. I will replace the inlet tube first before I try to yank the fan and replace the water pump. I haven't checked the weep hole on the water pump yet because I KNOW that it's leaking around the inlet tube. I'll run it in the morning and double check. I know I can replace the water pump if it's needed.
I've never really worked on my truck a lot and after pricing the inlet tube and water pump I figured I could save $120 on labor. I'm sure they'd charge two hours to replace that tube when it shouldn't take that awful long.
Vehicle: 2001 Dodge Dakota Club Cab 3.9, 5-speed manual
Location: Clermont, Florida
Welcome to the forum.....
Dodge calls the tube a "coolant return tube". Auto parts stores will call it a "water pump inlet tube" or "engine water pump inlet tube". The Napa website lists the tube as a "heater bypass tube". No matter what you call it, it returns coolant to the water pump from the heater core. There is an o-ring on the tube which can go bad and cause a leak.
I had a difficult time when I replaced my water pump about 2 years ago; it was because of a poorly machined pump I got from Napa. I posted about that experience here, maybe that post will help you:
If you have to replace your water pump, use the OEM tube from the Dodge dealer. It will save you a lot of aggravation. The aftermarket tubes do not fit correctly, or at least in my case it didn't. It is a good idea to use the Permatex water pump/thermostat gasket sealant that is made specifically for water pumps. It is kind of a bronze color. Coat the inlet tube above the o-ring with the sealant and lube the o-ring itself with clean coolant. You can also coat the outside of the water pump where the tube goes in with the sealant. These few steps will help to keep the tube from leaking.
I have not ever heard of common problems with water pumps, inlet tubes or coolant leaks on Dakota's. I guess any water pump can have problems at any mileage. Most of the threads I have read about it indicated the OEM Mopar pumps last at least 125,000 miles. I think it also depends on how often you drain, flush and refill with new coolant too, that helps extend water pump life.
"As long as you're in motion, you're moving in the right direction." - Ronnie Montrose
Thanks Jimmy! I read your post and will keep it in mind. Barring improper installation or faulty replacement parts, I wouldn't THINK that the water pump is bad. It is only 4-5 years old. My thinking is that the O-ring on the coolant return tube is the most likely culprit.
I have a Haynes manual but it did not mention anything about the coolant return tube. From what it says, it shouldn't be too hard to replace the water pump. I also watched a video on Youtube on how to replace it. Seems easy enough. Just figured someone on here had replaced one of the tubes.
As far as using the forum, I have used the Honda forum for my ATV and I think they're cool.