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1999 Dodge Dakota Diesel Conversion



Well, here we go again. You may already have visited my Jeep diesel conversion page. The Jeep was a difficult and time consuming conversion due to limited space for the diesel and its related hardware. As I state on my Jeep page I don't do this for a living and can't help you with parts or technical information on any conversion you may want to do (unless its to electric power: I do like to hear what other people are converting and always have time to chat about it. :)

The truck is a 1999 Dodge Dakota club cab 4X4 with a V6 gas engine and automatic transmission.

The engine is a 2000 Isuzu 4HF1 normally aspirated 4L out of a NKR 3 ton truck. The NKR was never imported into North America except for a few "demonstration" vehicles, it is a smaller version of the popular Isuzu NPR which uses basically the same engine only with a turbo (which may find its way onto my engine down the road).

The first problem I encountered was the starter on the Isuzu is a rear entry so it was going to end up just about where the gas pedal is supposed to be. I built a 3.5" body lift and a small bump in the floor behind the throttle solved that. The engine mounts worked out quite nice and only had to build them once unlike the Jeep where I had about 4 mounts built before settling on a design.

The front differential is a problem at this point and I will leave it out for the first test runs. It interferes with the oil pan, I could pull the pan and modify it in the future but for now I just want to get the thing running.

Pictures above show the old engine in the truck and the new Isuzu ready to go in.

Pictures above show the engine bay ready to receive the new diesel and the engine sitting in place while I figure out motor mounts.

When adding the 3.5" body lift I found the steering shaft was then too short, A tour of the local wrecking yard turned up a Jeep Cherokee shaft that was long enough to do the job, it even used the same U-joint so it looks totally stock once installed. Next picture is of the new passenger side motor mount welded in place.

October 2007

The truck has been on the road for almost two years and has been great. The turbo really perked up the performance. Its been our shop truck and used mostly for towing a car trailer for delivering our electric vehicles. I never did put the front axle in so it has been a two wheel drive all this time. The fuel economy (26 mpg) is not as good as the Grand Cherokee (43 mpg) diesel swap that we did but I think that is because of the Dakota's automatic tranny and larger engine. I just picked up a 2000 Dakota Quad Cab and will begin a diesel swap in the new year. It has a 5 speed standard so I'm hoping for better fuel economy and may try SVO (Straight Vegetable oil) once its finished.

October 2009

Had a slow winter in the shop so we did a few little upgrades to the truck. It now has an NV4500 five speed transmission. Frame from the cab back is from a new 3 ton Isuzu NKR which has a similar wheel track so the duels fit real well. Had to add a drive shaft park brake as the Isuzu had one on the back of the transmission. We now run mostly on WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil) which has been working very well. The deck has a 3 ton hoist under it for hauling fire wood and dirt. Tires were upgraded to Hankook 285/75R16 (32's) fronts and the rear duels are Hankook 235/85R16. With a little upgrade on the injector pump and bigger exhaust along with the new 5 speed its a great performing little shop truck. The 2000 quad cab is still gas.

Febuary 2012

This winter we replaced the Isuzu rear axle with a 14 bolt. The Isuzu was just too low geared so anything over 90kph was getting close to max RPM. The 14 bolt has 4.11:1 gears and has worked out real nice. At 100KPH its only at about 2200 RPM in 5th. While we had the rear axle out we added air bags to the rear suspension. Removed the springs and installed tube trailing arms with a panhard bar. The bags were a bit big for the job but I only have to run about 10 PSI to get a nice ride. Still left the overload springs in place incase a bag leaked. Finally got the dash finished after all these years. Very nice to finally have a tach and best of all a speedo! The 2000 Quad cab is gone and a nice 2008 Quad cab 4X4 took its place. It's now in the shop getting a Cummins ISB 170 installed. :)


Our shop truck hauling Might-E Truck, an all electric utility truck built from the ground up at Canadian Electric Vehicles.