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Dakota Performance
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mcarthey
Dodge Dakota
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7/07/2004
13:35:40

Subject: Don't let me make a mistake
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I've hit about 100K miles on my '97 5.2L and it requires some repairs to the wearable items. I figured this is as good a time as any to make some mods. I'd like someone to take a look at the list of items I've picked and make sure I'm not making a bad purchase. I am more interested in improving low to mid-range torque than seeing any huge 1/4-mile improvements or anything like that. The only thing I've changed out was to put upgraded plug wires (MSD 8.5mm) and spark plugs (3923's). I did this a bit ago in preparation for my current round of mods. Other plans for the future are a 3" lift and 33" tires. I'm also considering improved intake and headers.

Currently I'm looking at:

Gibson exhaust, swept-side, cat-back
Jacobs off-road ignition kit
180 degree thermostat
K&N FIPK
Moog Upper/Lower ball joints
PowerStop brake pads and rotors

Thanks for any help!
Mark




mcarthey
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7/07/2004
13:57:56

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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I forgot to list an item... the Airaid TBS.



Ken
Dodge Dakota
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7/07/2004
20:16:21

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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K&N FIPK is the best bang for the buck and will show the most improvement (or any cold-air intake).
180 t-stat - cheap, efficient, easy to do. Though my Dakota doesn't blow very warm in the winter, but that's because most of my trip is on the highway. When I'm driving city in the winter, she's nice and toasty with the 180. During the summer, I have to sit a whole lot with the AC before it ever gets close to 210. With the 195, it would get 210 very quickly.
Gibson - Ummm, I have a Gibson Cat-back side swept myself. I love the sound, etc, but it's not going to make a noticable difference. But it might add .5-1mpg on the highway.

I would find a Mopar PCM, about the same cost as the exhaust, but a lot better overall performance improvement (though you won't get the sound you want from the exhaust). Hyptertech is OK, and might be easier to get, when checking with MOPAR, they don't list a 97 Mopar PCM Federal (auto), only the California version. The Hyptertech gave me better performance over the Mopar PCM California version, but the Mopar didn't ping. With either though (hyptertech/Mopar Federal), you'll probably need to run 93 octane. I had to run 93 oct with my 97 Dakota with a Hyptetech on it until I put intake manifold and headers, now I run 87 and never have any pinging.




mcarthey
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7/07/2004
21:05:33

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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Thanks for the suggestion. The Jacobs system lists that it comes with an 'Energy Pack Computer'. I don't know if this is basically the same as a Jet ECM or does it just modify the fuel delivery like the PCM? If so, would I be justified in going to a MOPAR unit? I would prefer to stick with a "kit" since they're more likely to work together... unless someone has some other information.
Thanks again!




Ken
Dodge Dakota
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7/07/2004
21:23:08

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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No, that is an ignition system, which is to help insure a better spark, etc. I have accel ignition system on my 97 5.2. It'll also allow you to adjust the RPM limit (the Accel will), but I don't think it'll adjust the rev limiter on the computer, but the Mopar PCM will.

The Jet is crapola, don't bother with it. The Jet chip is an add-on to the PCM, and so is the Hyptertech. The Mopar is a replacement, takes about 5 minutes to do it (it's on the passenger side fender in the engine bay with 2 or 3? wiring harnesses, just held in by 2 bolts).

I've had good luck with the Hypertech, but as most will tell ya, it's a spark-knock monster, which is baaaaaad, but 93 octane will usually take care of it. I did have spark-knock with it under heavy load with 93 octane, but 180 t-stat, etc fixed that.

Also, the FIPK won't really help on the low-end torque, but it'll open up that 318 around 3k RPM, when the air really starts moving into the intake.

1/4 mile wise, the FIPK and hypertech/mopar PCM will give you close to .5 sec, and 2-3 mpg on the hwy (if you can keep your foot out of it).

When I originally bought my 97 CC used, the best I would get babying it on the highway was 16.5mpg. Now I get 20mpg on the highway babying it. I would probably see better benefits from the mopar PCM over the hypertech, but haven't gotten around to buying it yet. BTW, check out www.krcperformance.com , he sells the Mopar PCM's



mcarthey
Dodge Dakota
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7/07/2004
22:17:40

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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OK, so I'm thinking the MSD 6A and replacement coil for my '97 5.2L and a Mopar PCM replacement will make some nice changes (instead of the Jacobs). I have the MSD 8.5mm wires. I noticed Jacobs recommended gapping the 3923s from .015 to .020 more than the manufacturers recommendation. MSD doesn't suggest this (as I've seen), but should it be done anyway? In addition I'll be adding the FIPK, and a 180 thermo. I'm torn about the PCM since I'm not crazy about having to up the octane. I plan on upgrading headers and manifold along with exhaust, but it'll be a while before I scrape up the cash for it.




mcarthey
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7/07/2004
23:12:55

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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I noticed this statement on the ordering page for a Mopar PCM... "Not recommended for use when towing trailers." Since I do a large amount of towing (a 3300lb boat) I'm worried about this. Is there a risk of damage to the engine through towing? What is the reason for this? Should I be considering an entirely different set of mods?




mcarthey
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7/08/2004
01:30:14

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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I was wondering... if I were to go with the Hypertech Power Programmer instead of the fixed chip, would I still have problems with towing? It seems that the programmable ones allow you to set the timing and run a lower octane gas? At least this way I'd have some flexibility until I get everything done that I'd like. It looks like the programmer and the chips are about the same price. What advantage does one have over the other?
Thanks!



Ken
Dodge Dakota
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7/08/2004
08:28:28

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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Both the Hypertech and Mopar PCM do the same thing, the Mopar just does a better job of it. That is, adjusting shifting points, remove rev limiter, speed limiter, and adjusts the timing - which this is the reason for spark knock (not sure about the limiter with the hypertech). As for the towing, what happens is when under load, it's more likely to spark knock. If you get spark knock, after awhile, it can start to cause damage to the internals, so spark knock is BAD! What's happening is the fuel mix in the combustion chamber is combusting before the spark plug fires and the piston is in the correct position. The *knock* or *ping* you hear is the force of the piston trying to be forced the wrong way, which, among other things, is causing stress on your internals. A higher octane rating makes it so the fuel mix isn't as combustable. Another way to prevent this is lowering the temp in there via a t-stat, headers, colder running plugs (autolites 3923's), etc.

To remove/disable the hypertech is pretty easy, just unplug the hypertech wiring harness from the PCM, unplug the wiring harness going to the hypertech, and plug it back into the stock PCM, and you're ready to go, takes about 30 seconds. Mopar would require removing the 2 bolts, removing the Mopar Performance PCM, and putting the stock one back in since it's a replacement, or you could have both of them bolted up to the fender so you can just do a quick swap of the wiring harnesses.

Peronsally, I think I gap my plugs at .045. With a good ignition system, I think you can go up to .050 (I might have gapped 'em at this the last time I changed 'em). Just don't gap 'em too large, or you'll get misfires, etc because the plugs aren't making that arc.

Try going to www.dakota-trucks.net and check the FAQ section. Also, might want to subscribe there, those guys are a great source of info on the dakotas.



mcarthey
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7/08/2004
10:32:40

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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Thanks again. I found dakotatrucks.com, but not the one that you mentioned.
Regarding swapping the PCM... I have seen setups that have switches in the dash that allow you to set it for different uses. I just recently saw this on 'Trucks!' and thought it was interesting. I don't remember what the unit was called though. Is there something for the Dakotas that would integrate nicely into the dashboard and give the flexibility I'm looking for?




Ken
Dodge Dakota
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7/08/2004
14:03:25

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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I know exactly what you're talking about, and that's for diesel's only. You can get something somewhat like that, which is the superchips programmer. You hook it up to the OBD connection and program it the way you want it, but this will require more tuning & testing then a PCM, but I believe it does work with the stock PCM, will give about the same performance numbers (maybe better if setup properly), then when you want to switch it back, just plug it back in and set everything back to the default. It's still going to take you a few minutes either way when swapping back and forth, but the programmer requires more initial setup and tuning.



mcarthey
Dodge Dakota
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7/08/2004
22:22:22

RE: Don't let me make a mistake
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Thanks for the tip on the Superchips programmer. I like what I've read about it. I might put off the purchase, though, until I look into a few more mods. I also like what I've read about the Hypertech programmer so I'll be weighing those two against each other.




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