This is the place for all Dodge Dakota based IFS information. Here you will find projects new and old as well as the old installation instructions from our kits, hints and tips on alignment and how to get the most of your Dakota based installation. This page is a work in progress, check back regularly for updates.
Why the Dakota IFS
We chose the Dodge Dakota IFS back in 1991 because of a few things, first was familiarity. I knew four people personally with them and had good practical driving experience with the trucks. I really enjoyed how good the were to drive compared to the other small(er) platform trucks on the market. The Mazda, Toyota and Nissan trucks drove very well, but practically they would not have been good candidates for the classic truck market because they were a bit small and not American Made. The Dakota was, and it was the first of any pickup to have a rack-and-pinion steering! The track width is the same or close to the same as most classic trucks. It’s a full 1/2 ton truck front end and can withstand truck like abuse. It handles good and with an improved anti-roll bar and high quality shock it handles very well also.
The patterns and track widths
The Dakotas by this interchangeability have a large range of bolt patterns available.
1987-1990 – the 10.5″ X 0.870″ rotor. In Dakota lingo it is known as the 14″ wheel rotor. This rotor has a 5 on 4.5″ bolt patten with 1/2-20 studs and will narrow the track width to 59.5″. You will need the correct caliper bracket for this rotor but the caliper itself is the same for all the Dakotas from 1987-1990.
1987-1990 – the 11.375” X 0.870″ rotor. In Dakota lingo it is know as the 15″ wheel rotor. This rotor has a 5 on 4.5″ bolt pattern with 1/2-20 studs and has a track width of 61″. If you purchased a complete front end, most likely these will be the standard brakes. Calipers have the brake hose nearest the spindle and have a different profile to the brake pads between the inner and outer. Calipers can be used on the later caliper bracket with the later brake pads.
1991-1996 – the 11.375” X 0.890″ rotor. First years of the odd 6 lug pattern. It is a 6 on 4.5″ pattern, the same as the Dodge Viper and nothing else. If you buy a front end with this rotor on it, the earlier rotors are a direct bolt on. The calipers and brackets are different from the earlier trucks. The brake pads have the same profile for the inner and outer. The caliper is also different by the location of the brake hose on the outside nearest the wheel. Calipers can be used on the earlier caliper brackets with the earlier brake pads.
The D series full size trucks also have some interchangeability. The brakes to be specific. The 1980 through 1993 D150 series full size trucks shared the same spindle upright and ball joints as the Dakotas so naturally there is a ton of interchangeability there. Chrysler used the same ball joints, the K778 Upper ball joint from the 50’s up on full sized cars through the 3/4 ton truck. The same goes for the lower ball joint, K7025. The brake rotors all use the same bearing sets and seals, what you will need is a set of caliper brackets that matches the brake rotor and caliper you intend on using. We will be offering caliper brackets for aftermarket calipers such as the Wilwood D52 dual piston caliper.
The 1980-1984 D100 rotors (7034R) will work, but need machine work to accept the 63mm inner bearing. We have been told there are some rotors that have the 63mm bore, I cannot confirm this at this time.
Dropped spindles and Brake interchanges
There were several manufacturers of dropped spindles for the 1986-1996 Dodge Dakota. All came from a master pattern that we believe was actually derived from the D150 Dodge full size trucks developed by BellTech. Now there appears to be only two, the new BellTech and Airbagit.com. Airbagit is still using the older style spindle and we prefer it for a couple of reasons.
The dropped spindles have an artifact we found about the steering arms. They are in the incorrect position and do induce a bumpsteer not present with the stock Dakota spindles. We developed this tie rod end drop kit to resolve the issue. The kit is $161.50 and includes high strength HIEM joints with dust boots and Grade 8 Zinc plated hardware. Please call to order, we will need to know what rack-and-pinion you have. We prefer you purchase spindles for the 1987-1990 Dakota regardless of what year rack you have. See below.
We have found that if you use the BellTech spindles, you are limited to the stock Dakota rotors. The D-series truck rotors will hit the tie rod. BellTech has not only raised and shortened the steering arm, but now have moved it outboard. This has caused an interference issue, we have not had this issue with the spindles from Airbagit.
Follow this link for the instructions on installing the tie rod drop. Dropped Dakota spindle tie rod drop
The Tie rod drop set is not necessary for stock spindles. They are only for the dropped spindles.
The Rack and Pinions
There are a few ratios available and there are even non-assisted racks. To keep it simple, the earlier 1987-1990 Dakota trucks have a 14mm X 1.5 thread pitch on the tie rods and have a smaller stud and nut on the tie rod end requiring a 3/4″ wrench. The 1991-1996 Dakota trucks have a 15mm X 1.5 thread on the tie rods and a larger stud and nut on the tie rod ends requiring a 7/8″ wrench. There does not appear to be a strength issue with either, I suspect this had to do with the Viper connection more than anything else. If you are going to mix and match parts, be aware that your rack and spindles must match. If you are using dropped spindles and have a 1990-1996 Dakota donor, we recommend you use the 1987-1990 spindles as the bore for the tie rod end is smaller. You will need to drill out the steering arm to 5/8″ for the tie rod drop. If you have the 1991-1996 spindle, the tie rod bore is larger than 5/8″ and could cause issue.
The spring selection in the aftermarket for the Dakota is pretty limited. However, there are two springs the CC770 and CC772 which are variable rate springs and a bit on the heavy duty side. Nailing down if these are the right springs for your front end is not the easiest. Because they are progressively wound, the spring rate under normal conditions is lower than advertized. But as load increases so does the spring rate to keep the front end from bottoming out. I would reserve using these for later model trucks and for using heavier engine/transmission combinations. The CC772 spring should be used with engines that weigh 750# or more.
Something like a 53-56 F100 with a 302 Windsor Ford engine is going to be pretty light on the front end. The Maverick Base ( 1971 – 1973 )springs (MOOG# CS8360) will work well for a situation like this. And getting the spring rate down to 400-500 lb/in is going to be much more comfortable.
A later truck like the 57-66 F100 with the same drive train would use the Mustang 5.0 (1971-1973) springs (MOOG CS8534)
Here is a simple chart of compatible aftermarket springs that may give you an idea of what springs you may need for your particular application. To make sense of this, the spring rate and free length can be helpful in making a decision to swapping the springs you have or to select which ones you have. Typically the loaded height of the Dakota IFS will have an 11″ tall spring. You can subtract the 11″ from the Free Length measurement and multiply that number by the spring rate to determine how much load capacity. For instance a CS8360 Maverick spring will need to compress 3.54″ to get to the proper ride height. Multiply 3.54 X 395 and you get 1398.3 pounds of force (lbF). In comparison the CC770 would be exerting 2148 pounds of force. The biggest difference is the 320 pound per inch spring rate (lb/in). The lighter the truck the lighter the spring rate needs to be to be a comfortable ride.
- Spring# Bar Dia. Spring Rate Free Length Force at ride height
- CC770 0.781″ 716.0 lb/in 14.00″ 2148 lbF *Variable Rate
- CC772 0.781″ 716.0 lb/in 14.56″ 2548.9 lbF *Variable Rate
- CS8360 0.656″ 395.0 lb/in 14.54″ 1398.3 lbF
- CS8534 0.672″ 428.0 lb/in 14.69″ 1579.3 lbF
- CS8356 0.656″ 418.0 lb/in 15.05″ 1692.9 lbF
- Stock 4cyl 0.702″ 463.6 lb/in 14.00″ 1390.8 lbF
- Stock 6cyl 0.740″ 521.8 lb/in 14.625″ 1891.5 lbF
- Stock 8cyl 0.765″ 606.0 lb/in 14.7″ 2242.2 lbF
Stock spring rates and lengths are approximate. There were several different springs depending on application. Use these numbers for reference only.
The old instruction sheets
One of those things that was difficult to do before, now here is what I have. If I can find more, I will post them.
Here is a list of the old instruction sheets in PDF form
The Viper connection
The Dakota shared it’s platform with the first generation Dodge Viper, some of the parts are interchangeable if not a bit impractical to do so. We have had a customer use a set of Early Viper spindles and brakes on his kit. If you are familiar with the Dakota and the dropped spindles available for it, the Viper spindles will look similar. The rack-and-pinons are not interchangeable, but are very similar in construction. Beyond that maybe the upper control arms and not much else. Pictured below are second generation Viper, as I find more picture of the first gen I will post them.