Dakota Clutch Job: How Hard?



My 94 Dakota (V8 4WD) is squealing intermittently in a way that sounds like the pilot or throw out bearing. Assuming that’s it (mechanic is checking it) how hard is the job for a shade tree mechanic? I have ordinary tools (wrenches, jack stands, small floor jack). I’ve done “easy” jobs (brakes, starter motor, alternator, fuel pump, water pump). Saving the $800 labor would be great but not if I screw it up or drop the tranny on my head. Advice? Thanks!


Some clutch jobs can be a bear…Not that difficult…just a LOT of little stuff.

I looked at doing the clutch on my 98 pathfinder…repair manual said it’s a 16 hour job…And that’s if you have a lift (which I don’t). You have to remove cross members…exhaust…transfercase…driveshafts…There’s a lot too it.

Some vehicles like my 84 S-15 or my 80 Datsun pickup…easy…Took me less then 4 hours to replace.

Get a estimate from the dealer in how long it will take them…then DOUBLE that amount of time it will take you.


Process described in the Chilton manual doesn’t call for any exhaust work – just remove (?!) transmission, transfer case, and drive shafts. Shop estimate was 6 hours, so I’d assume a whole weekend. My real concern is whether there’s any special tools or expertise needed…?


If this was a 2WD I would say you could probably do it but since it’s a 4WD I would advise against doing it. This is a tough job to do laying on your back.

ALLDATA lists the job at about 8 hours depending on what is needed to be removed to gain access. It also says that the exhaust might need be to be removed to gain access.


I’ve always found Chilton manuals to give a GENERAL overview of what needs to be done…sometimes they miss a lot. Willy seems to have a better handle on what needs to be done for this vehicle…I’d listen to him.

Working on the ground to remove a tranny is a pain. And depending on how big the tranny is you may end up lifting the vehicle pretty far off the ground. Personally…I don’t do those types of jobs anymore…When I was young and foolish I replaced a transmission in my driveway on my Chevy Vega in the middle of a HUGH snow storm (66"). Took me 2 hours to remove the old tranny…by the time I removed it 5" already fell…Then took me another 2+ hours to put the rebuilt one it…another 5+" fell.


This might seem obvious, but really sit down and think through what the manual is actually telling you to do. The DIY-er manuals are notorious for offhandedly putting in single-line directions that are really super complicated. Removing the transfer case and driveshafts probably make up the bulk of this job, so read those procedures carefully. And, like MikeinNH was saying, the manuals are surveys of a big range of models and sub-models, so there may be clearance issues with your specific model (which is probably the most cramped one) that will greatly increase the time commitment to this job.

It’s probably not beyond your skill level, but I would say a single weekend is probably pretty optimistic. Any time I’m doing a repair like this that involves removing several major components, I figure at least a couple of weekends. You’ll find special tools you didn’t know you need and you’ll find other stuff you’ll need to order while you’re in there. If you can afford to be without your truck for a couple of weeks and you don’t mind the potentially large time commitment on your part, I’d say go for it!