Question about 2001 Dodge Dakota

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2001 Dodge Dakota 3.9L oil pressure

I have a 2001 Dodge Dakota with a 3.9L V6 in it. When I first crank up the oil pressure guage show right in the middle. After 15-20 min of operation the guage swings to low (but not critical) pressure when at idle or around 500-800rpm. It returns to normal (the middle of the guage) around 1200-2000rpm.

FYI, the guage never reaches ''below normal'' or critial (red) position but the does get down to the bare minimum.

I changed the oil and the pressures got a little better but still run lower than they use to.

I'm running Mobile 1 10w-30 full synth.

Any suggestions? I'm down to the following. Clogged screen and pickup tube...faulty oil pump.... or..... bad cam shaft bearings....

What do you think?

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  • Alan Conner
    Alan Conner Feb 20, 2009

    I have a 1990 dakota, and if I go into reverse, stop at a light, or sit on a hill, my oil pressure goes down enough to where the light comes on. I was just told my truck was old and it happens. It also has another problem, I have never heard this before, but it smokes when in reverse. I can drive all day with no problems, but once it goes in reverse, white smoke comes out of the exhaust.

  • sleepy_user
    sleepy_user Feb 21, 2009

    Thanks plkruger.

    I was hoping that it was only the pickup tube and screen issue. I don't have the time to do anything with the truck for 3-4 weeks. Do you think this will cause any major issues at this time? (Since I'm not super low on pressure right now).

    I have also heard that you can drain a quart, add 1 qt diesel fuel and let idle for 10-15 min. Drain and refill afterwards. What is your take on this for a temp fix? I think that it could possibly cause more gaskets, etc.

    From looking at everything, it appears that I'm going to have to jack the engine up to get the pan off. This maybe more than a "weekend" project... for me at least. I have rebuilt a couple of 2.5 chevy shorts but, I'm not sure that I want to really mess with it if its going to a huge hassle. I might bring it in.

    What is the average labor hours this takes?




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The pickup tube is a bad design in these engines, I have fixed several with the same problem, you can weld on a GM screen move it 1/4 of a inch away from the pan or add 1 inch to the bottom of the pan, (use a high volume pump) the problem is the screen is too close and too small and will pick up any sludge off the bottom. also it's great to make a access plate on the bottom of the pan using a Volkswagen Bug oil cover plate, it can be removed with bolts after a oil drain to clean the screen without the hassle of removing the whole oil pan by lifting the engine on these trucks. Good Luck

Posted on Feb 20, 2009

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  • plkruger
    plkruger Feb 20, 2009

    Again I have repaired over 50 trucks in my shop with the same issue and have happy customers, however if you are skeptical you can test the oil pump or screen and tube the same way we do prior to any modification's to the oil pan, First drain the oil, replace the oil plug, with a funnel down the dipstick tube only pour 3qts of lacquer thinner ( same thing as Chemtool !) into the oil pan, then find a rubber or solvent resistant tubing that will slide down the dipstick tube, run this until it hits the bottom of the pan, on the other end connect it to a air supply with a regulator set at 5-6 lbs, this will cause a "Bubbling" in the solvent that will agitate the sludge or carbon on the screen and built up the bottom of the pan, leave this going overnight, the next day add 1qt more for 30 min and using a small rubber mallet tap GENTLY on the bottom of the pan to free any remaining sludge, then drain the pan and refill with new oil , we prefer valvoline since 90% of our customers who had this problem had been using Pennzoil. Start it up and check your oil pressure if its good then it was the tube screen problem. but remember this is not a solution to the problem , just a test.

  • plkruger
    plkruger Feb 20, 2009

    Be safe use plenty of ventilation and using the air line in the dipstick tube keep running it wile you drain the solvent and after to purge the solvent vapor from the engine, drain plug out, oil fill cap off, breather off etc...

  • plkruger
    plkruger Feb 26, 2009

    Hi, Sleepy_user , to answer your question, yes your oil press is not too low now . however it will slowly decrease, also the pressure you have now is probably partial blocked as far as the flow of oil is concerned, when you first start up it will build pressure in main channels but be not enough in other possibly critical areas. Remember, old race engine builders often block off a oil passage to give more oil to a normally oil starved main ( factory design flaw) Well , Your engine has a area's that need more oil even on a good day.

    As for time involved that will vary with skill level and knowledge of using the correct tools to save time, but around 4 hours is a good guess, please remove your distributor prior to lifting the engine up to avoid damage to it and to get enough lift to deal with the pan.

    I agree the diesel oil will not be good on engine parts, but the thinner method only goes in the pan so no harm done and it does not take very long to find out where you are and it is a good temporary fix for now. Good luck.


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My 01 dodge dakota 3.9L 2wd v6 engages in reverse but will not reverse it just revs like its in neurtral

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