Replace it or junk it

I have an 04 Dakota that needs a new engine or needs to be junked. It has 163k on it and no major repairs and minimal rust. I do think the trans is not in the best shape. If it were your truck, what would you do?

Find a $3500 drive or pull push trade in and move on. Just curious did you keep up on maintenance, ie trans and oil changes?

Chrysler product? And a truck?

If you can drive it to the junkyard and dump it, you might get a $100.00 for it.

Not a high demand vehicle.


When you say that you think the trans is not in the best shape, do you mean that it is already malfunctioning? Or, do you mean that it did not have its fluid and filter changed every 30k miles, as it should have been?

In any event, no matter which of those scenarios might be the case, if there is a likelihood that this vehicle will need a rebuilt trans in the near future–in addition to a new/rebuilt engine–then I vote to scrap it. If it needs “only” an engine or trans rebuilding, it might be worth saving, but if there is a likelihood of having to spend money on both engine and transmission rebuilding, then you should scrap it–IMHO.

For future reference, good maintenance is invariably cheaper than the repairs that result from lax maintenance.

Tranny has been flushed and fluid looks good. Doesn’t shift well, is jerky when accelerating fast. I’m leaning towards jinking it but finances are making me consider a new engine.

A new (meaning remanufactured and not used) would likely cost more than what the truck is worth.

How sure are you the engine is junk? Has that been determined beyond all doubt? Jerky could mean an engine problem instead of a transmission issue and jerky could also mean something minor.

I ask because as a mechanic I’ve seen engines diagnosed as having serious problems and the cause many times was something mind numbing simple such as a blown fuse, idler pulley frozen, or one bad spark plug wire.

In one case a guy pulled his engine, removed the heads, and brought it to me for a rebuild. It did not need a rebuild. Two faulty spark plug wires was the cause; not low compression due to bad valves and so on.

The engine has been deemed dead by my mechanic, whom I trust. It is making a knocking/banging/clanging, sounds etc. I had new plugs and wires put in a few months ago. The engine failure is definitely my fault, it was 7 months and about 12k since last oil change. it was down at least 3 quarts when it went. My main concern with putting in a new engine is continually repairing other things after the engine is replaced, making a newer car/truck a better option. the replace is cheaper up front but, imo, a more costly option in the long run.


Some dopey mechanics misdiagnose a cracked flexplate . . . which is a fairly common failure with automatic transmissions . . . as bottom end problems

A cracked flexplate makes very deep, ominous, and seemingly expensive sounds, but it’s not a big deal to fix the problem

If I were you, I’d keep that thought in mind. Make sure your mechanic hasn’t overlooked something relatively minor

If this truck were a Toyota Tocoma or a Ford F150 or Chevy Silverado I’d say fix it. It’s a little harder to say for a Dakota, b/c those don’t seem to be quite as popular of vehicles. Which means it will prove to be harder to find parts for and generally more expensive to repair as time goes by.

hmm …so what would I do? ok, here’s my thinking. If you simply can’t pony up the $12-20 K for a good used F150 or similar, I think you should install a new engine and cross your fingers on the transmission. In the meantime be saving up each month b/c eventually you’ll need a transmission rebuild it sounds like.

You might consider when looking for a replacement vehicle to choose one with a manual transmission next time. That will likely eliminate the transmission part of this equation going forward.