2002 Dodge Dakota Rattling sound in first and second gear

2002 Dodge Dakota 3.9l 2WD Manual
There is a distinct rattle that comes when I’m getting up to speed in 1st and 2nd gear. However in other gears, the sound is not heard. At idle the rattle cannot be heard. From what I’ve noticed, it only does this when the truck isn’t fully warmed up yet. After the truck has been running for about 5-10 minutes, the noise stops. At first I figured it was a heat shield or a blown cat, but since the noise only occurs in 1st and 2nd gear when it is not fully warmed up, I am doubting those. Thank you for the help.

Don’t rule out a heat shield.

Heat shields can rattle at a certain frequency, and stop rattling once they heat up.


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If it is a deep ball-bearings-in-a-can sound it could be the transmission forward countershaft bearing. Ist and 2nd are forward on the countershaft, 3rd and 4th are farther back. Check the fluid level and consider changing it. If it is a trans bearing, it will get worse.


Do what you can to figure out what part of the car the noise is coming from. If all else fails there’s a product called “chassis ears” which allows a mechanic to figure out the location of the noise source. That may be your best option here. Get an accurate pro diagnosis, then to save some money you can always decide to fix it yourself if you like.

Is that bearing’s a roller at the end of the shaft and located in the trans case? If so, and that was the only problem, it should be relatively quick and easy to replace. Doesn’t require a complete trans rebuild. Cross fingers.

Yes, pretty common to have a tapered roller or ball bearing in the front of the case. If it has started to shed metal by the time you get in there, that changes the task!

Just a quick update. I’ve been trying to pinpoint the noise source and haven’t had much luck. Heat shields are all tight and don’t rattle. I also noticed that the noise DOES occur in neutral whenever I rev the engine. With this in mind, could it still be a bearing?

It could be something inside the muffler or exhaust system that rattles only at certain RPMs. Or only when the engine is cold.

Being a 2002 model, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. I’d take the truck to a muffler shop first thing in the morning while the engine is still relatively cool.

How is the clutch throw-out bearing linkage configured on that truck? Hydraulic force all the way to the bearing ? Or is there a mechanical fork linkage? Does the rattling sound change when in neutral, clutch pedal in vs out?

Yes it could still be a countershaft bearing.