Dakota R/T Audio Install

April 2004 to January 2018


As seen on the lot

In it's new home

The heart of the beast


The "salvage" Dak



This was my daily driver "toy" project and the last HRBYTRK.

I started out looking for a Toyota Prerunner due to the reliability and gas mileage mainly. After years with the 11-14 mpg of the F-150 I thought maybe I should get something more efficient. And since we already have a Camry maybe make it a Toyota household. It's a completely different type of truck than the F-150 and so I wasn't sure I wanted something that small.

I drove a coworkers Durango and felt comfortable with the ergonomics of it. I decided that maybe I should look at Dakotas. They're considered a "mid" size truck and I've always liked the styling but the reliability issues kind of put me off. After doing some "in depth" research. I checked the usual pricing sites for values (KBB, Edmunds, etc.) and some Dakota/Durango message board sites for info. In perusing those I came across the R/T. I'd heard of the Dakota R/T's but didn't know much about them. After a little more research and liking what I saw I decided to begin looking for one. Most seem to be a CC (Club Cab) which worked as I like the extra cab space. Along with the "big" 5.9 V8 (I know not much mpg there!!), the 1" lower suspension with 17" wheels and what seems like all available Dakota options they are pretty well setup. They were built from 1998 thru 2003. See the details here. Not much changed style or option wise in that time so the only thing I really needed to decide on was what color and how much I was willing to spend. 

The most common colors seem to be Intense Blue, Flame Red and Black. They also came in Bright White, Silver and some not so common colors like Solar Yellow, Deep Amethyst (kind of dark pearlescent purple and very rare) and Amber Fire (a burnt orange). I decided I liked the AF plus it was fairly rare. I liked both Intense Blue and Solar Yellow but I seemed to see a lot of blue ones (it was a common color for standard Dakota's and Durango's) and the yellow was a bit too bright. I kept my options open though.

I scoured the usual internet car sales sites including e-bay and craigslist and checked the Dakota/Durango classified sites almost daily for about 2-3 months. I found a 2000 Intense Blue CC on craigslist fairly locally for a great price. After calling him I found out it had a salvage title. He assured me it was in great shape and I hadn't actually driven one yet so I figured I may as well check it out. I also found a 2001 CC in Silver with low mileage on a local lot. I figured I would check that one out at the same time. Silver wasn't on my color short list but hey, WTF the price was good.

I kept surfing and the day before I planned to check out the 2 R/T's I found an Amber Fire CC listed at a lot in Roseville (about 2 hours away). I was jazzed so I called to make sure they still had it and found that they did. I planned to set off on a Saturday to look at the local blue one and figured if I had time I'd check out all 3 trucks. After checking the salvage R/T I was bummed. It did have JBA headers and Flowmasters and also a hard tonneau but was a bit rattier than I expected. It looked so good in the pictures too (see left). I have seen other salvage vehicles and though I wasn't expecting a pristine example it was less than I expected. It did run pretty good and was very fast however so it affirmed my choice of buying an R/T.

I decided to hit the furthest one next so the next stop was Hayes Auto Sales in Roseville to check out the 2000 Amber Fire CC.  Not only was it not a salvage (I ran the Carfax ahead of time) it was a totally stock original with the only add-on/changes being the hard tonneau, bedliner (both dealer options), the side window wind deflectors and body color mirrors. I checked it out from top to bottom and although it isn't perfect it is in very good shape. It does have the usual nicks and dings and does have previous accident damage though well repaired. The original (original type more likely) Goodyears on the rear were almost bald. After a quick 15 minute drive on city streets and some freeway I brought it back and walked away to mull it over and call my wife. While I was doing that another guy showed up to check it out. I talked to him a bit and found out he already had 2 Dak's and was a former R/T owner. I was kind of bummed but he checked it out for awhile then left. I negotiated a little (the salesman playing on my emotion of another possible buyer) and made an offer I could live with. He came back 5 minutes later and said "let's write it up!" So after I waited for the finance manager to finish with some other buyers and wrote out the check I was the proud owner of a 2000 Amber Fire Dakota R/T CC! (Hayes had a busy day, I saw 3 other trucks sold in the short time I was there)

I decided to leave my F-150 there and drive the R/T home (duh!!!) so that gave me a good 2-3 hours to get used to it. It felt very comfortable! The power drivers seat helped that quite a bit. I had familiarized myself with the light and wiper controls before leaving as it was threatening rain. Once on the freeway I found even the passing power compared to my F-150 is amazing. Needless to say I was not disappointed in my purchase and I obviously blew off the silver one. It wasn't my first color choice anyway. Seeing it in my driveway the next morning was almost hard to believe. Even my wife was reasonably impressed (she considers a vehicle just a conveyance).


See the Dakota Zone for info on these hot rod trucks. More horsepower than a normally aspirated Lightning and lighter weight too.



2000 Dakota R/T Specs
  • The Dakota R/T package available only on the shortbox regular cab and Club Cab Sport 4x2 models includes all  these functional and appearance items as standard:

  • 5.9L Magnum V8 engine (250 HP, 345 LB/FT Torque)

  • 4-speed automatic trans. (46RE) with 3.92 axle ratio

  • Limited-slip differential

  • Dual inlet with single exhaust and 3-inch tail pipe

  • 17x9-inch cast aluminum wheels

  • P255/55/R17 BSW Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires

  • Lowered suspension (w/15mm front and 19mm rear stabilizer bars)

  • Color-keyed front and rear bumpers

  • Color-keyed wheel flares

  • "Dakota 5.9 R/T" graphics

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

  • Deluxe Convenience Group includes tilt steering column and cruise control

  • Light Group

  • Infinity 6 speaker stereo system with steering wheel controls

The 2000 Dodge Dakota R/T is available in the following  colors,
Flame Red, White, Black, Intense Blue, and (new) Amber Fire
(also some Solar Yellow)

(only 165 Amber Fire Club Cab R/T's were built for 2000)


Herbytruck II Dakota R/T Log




K&N 33-2175

Custom R/T billet on the Volant airhat

IP Stage III Cold Air Intake

 Had to reinstall the stock airhat

 I tried the stock hose with the Volant first

Yeah, the tie wrap is kinda ghetto. It was temporary

UPDATE: Pix of the mount I fabbed to hold the filter can.

APC Clear Corners


Expanded metal grille

Donk Sprite?
The 29" Falken's are taller than the Sprite!



Date of purchase - 4/30/05; Mileage as purchased - 55.385

Other than a little clean up I spent most of the next month driving the Dak and getting the F-150 prepped for sale. A week after purchase I replaced all 4 tires with Kuhmo Ecsta 711's in the same size, 255/55-17. Much safer in the rain now and it rides a little smoother. They also stick quite well. This truck handles better than my urethane bushed 5/5 slammed Ranger GT and is almost as fun to drive as my Sprite!

I'm already planning to upgrade the audio system. The factory Infinity system is decent especially at lower volumes but it's not quite enough for me. See the upgrade plans on the DAK AUDIO page.

6/25/05, 56,463 miles: Once the F-150 sold (first person who called!!) I turned my attention to the R/T. First up (after I put 1000 miles on it) was an oil and filter change to Mobil 1/Purolator Pure One. I also added a Mobil 1 oil filler cap, maybe a silly add-on but I like it :) Then I replaced the sparkplugs with some new NGK's (I've now discovered that Autolites are said to be better for this engine). For a little better night vision I replaced the headlight and foglight bulbs with Sylvania Silverstars.

9/13/05, 57K+ miles: Since the factory decals were partially missing on the doors I looked around the web for replacements. Someone had added a dual pinstripe in silver (probably after the body damage repair) so I thought I'd change all the black decals to silver. I found some on e-bay pretty cheap and they're not bad. They came out really good if I must say so myself.

I did buy some really nice outline ones from Super Dak Renzoni  but I think I'll save those if I decide to repaint.

11/05/05, 58,641 miles: I decided to replace the stock airfilter with a K&N replacement filter (33-2175). I plan to replace the whole air induction with an Intense Performance Stage III air intake system but that may be awhile. I'd rather replace the intake and exhaust together. Not sure yet what exhaust to install or if I'll have a custom one done locally. A set of Gibson, Mopar or PPH headers might find their way on too.

I bought some extra door handles so I can paint them and the tailgate handle body color to match. The mirrors are already painted. I picked up an APC white face gauge panel (e-bay again) but found I like the Nu-Image one better. The APC panel is all white vs the Nu-Image white gauge faces only. A more "factory" look.

I snagged another set of R/T wheels as all of mine have curb damage (it came that way). I thought about some 20's but I don't know if I want to firm up the ride any more. Maybe I'm getting old but I've BTDT on the stiff riding vehicles. I could change my mind though, a set of silver 20" R/T's would look sweet.

11/18/06, 64,360 miles: One whole year has gone by and no updates to the Dak :( Yeah, I know less than 6K in a year but hey work is only a 20 mile round trip. I've been working on the Sprite more lately.

I have been collecting pieces for upgrades though. I did buy a Nu-Image white gauge face. It definitely is much better looking than the APC. Hopefully I'll get it installed in the coming months! I picked up an Xtant 603X 3/5 channel amp off e-bay. Much better than the Hifonics and will fit better in the sub box/amp rack. Nothing else to report but fillups, oil changes and lots of driving fun!!

05/30/07, 66,850 miles: I've finally added some things to the Dak! The pictures at left show 2 cool billet items. The battery strap and the airhat nut with the CNC'd R/T lettering are custom items by Moore Custom Billet. He can be reached thru the forums at DakotaUSA.com  or Dakota-Durango.com. I also added the Volant airhat I picked up off ebay. Much cleaner than the stock one. I managed to procure a used Intense Performance Stage III CAI from a fellow Dak owner. That will be installed soon. I stumbled onto a group buy (on the Durango Owners Club site) of possibly the last batch of PPH headers to be made so those will be on their way in a few weeks. Slowly but surely it's coming together. Oh yeah, Powerslot front rotors and Hawk pads are waiting for install as well as  pair of Belltech front springs and DJM 1" rear blocks. I'm waiting till I do the balljonts so I can do the suspension all at the same time.

06/19/07, 67,362 miles: I decided to pull the Intense Performance Stage III CAI out of the box and get in on the Dak. With the original supplied directions and some detailed pictures from SLVRBLT (on the Dak USA site) who I bought it from it was almost a snap. The supplied rubber connector for the intake tube to the airhat didn't fit the Volant airhat. I tried using the flexible factory tube but it looked too ghetto and required a ty-wrap on the can to keep it from flopping around. I tried stretching out the IP one a little but I need more than it'll stretch. Have to just buy another connector.

Don't know about performance yet but it certainly sounds faster :) I also adjusted the Throttle Valve (TV) cable.

PPH/Mike Leach headers will be here next week, Woo-Hoo!!

A few weeks before this I also installed the mids from the Image Dynamics CXS62 Components. The cone on the factory Infinity on the passenger side separated from the basket again. I didn't want to waste time pulling the door panel off just to glue it again. See DAK AUDIO for pix and detail.

06/27/07, N/A miles: I got my PPH/Mike Leach headers today!! UPS crushed and ripped the box up but the headers were undamaged and unmarked. Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3. Luckily Positive Performance packs them quite well. They are constructed very nicely. Smooth welds and bends. If the manufacturing is any indication the fit should go smoothly too. Here's all the pieces laid out on the garage floor. The box behind the headers holds the full set of Bilsteins I received today as well. Those should be a simple bolt on process, I hope.

I also picked up a new hose adapter and put the Volant airhat back on with the Intense Performance CAI. Now I gotta figure out a way to keep the "can" from bouncing around.

07/21/07, 67973 miles: First off, I put the stock airhat back on. I made a mount for the IP can but it still bounced around too much (for me at least) with the Volant airhat and silicone hose adapter. A lot of guys on the Dakota and Durango boards say the stock airhat flows well so I'm not worried about it. It still sounds sweet at WOT.

For mods, I was kind of busy. I got the Bilsteins on front and rear. It only took about 2-1/2 hours and I took my time. Although air tools are sweet to have here for sure. Made really easy work of it. What a ride difference!! I thought it would be too stiff but it actually smoothed out the ride. I also discovered that one of my rear shocks may have blown. It was obviously leaking.

Next was the APC clear corner lights. They're not totally clear as they have an orange reflector on the side. I actually like the style. I did see a few complaints on the boards about the fit of the APC's but mine fit fairly decent. I do see some "misalignment" but I think it's minor. Full one-piece headlights are probably a better option. Maybe later.

The latest mod is a custom expanded metal grill. I picked up a piece of black powder coated diamond pattern metal at OSH. I pulled the stock plastic grills out by snipping off the plastic "tabs". Then I laid them out on the expanded metal and traced the size. With various cutting tools (diagonals or "dikes" worked best but were tedious) I cut out the shape leaving extra material in the areas where the grill shroud mounts. These are my "tabs" that mount the grill pieces. It took a lot of trial and error to get the right fit but it was worth it. Instead of doing a remote hood release I opted to cut the grill out for access. It's not too noticeable (I hope). After I got the fit right and all the cuts were done I touched up the cut ends by brushing on some gloss black enamel. It was the right thickness and should keep the grill from rusting in those areas. Of course I had to add an old school R/T emblem. It could use a repaint but it works for now.

I'm still debating whether to do a lower grill.

Still to add are the Nu Image dash, Powerslot front rotors/Hawk pads and the PPH headers and exhaust. I also have a carbon fiber look dash surround (e-bay!) to install although I need to have a few other interior pieces done to complete the look. Bell Tech 1" drop front springs, DJM 1" blocks and Energy swaybar bushings are sitting in the parts bin waiting for install. My big score though was a Reflexxion steel cowl hood. Found it locally on craiglist for about half the cost of new and it's never been installed. Saw it on Sunday morning and had it in my garage Sunday afternoon. Need to get it painted though. Figure I'll do the door/tailgate handles at the same time. The guy I bought the cowl hood from is an automotive painter (side biz) so I might have him shoot it.

01/04/08, 70350 miles: 6 months and 2300+ miles since the last update. I still haven't installed any of the items mentioned above. Been lazy I guess. I did score a new head unit though. It's an Eclipse CD 7000. It has many great features. I also picked the iPod adapter for it.

03/31/08, 71705 miles: Well, even though none of the items noted above are installed yet I was in need of tires soon. So what to do? Of course, a new set of 20" chrome wheels to go with the new tires!! I have been looking at wheels for a few years but hadn't narrowed the choices down. I decided I really like the deep lip look. I came across the Incubus Game and started checking prices. I liked the 9" width too. Same as the stock R/T wheels.

I found out IndyD on the DOC board has a line on a wheel distributor offering many choices. His distributor listed the Game but they are apparently on a long backorder. He offered some other choices that were in stock. I saw the Hollywood 5 (Vision Wheel/Milanni) and found my second choice. A set of 275/45-20 Falken Ziek S/TZ04's mounted on the 20x9 Hollywood's and they were on the Big Brown truck headed to me.

I'm very happy with the look and the fit. The ride isn't as bad as I thought it would be either.



It does need to be about 1" lower to fill up the wheel well a little more. So I guess the Bell Techs and blocks will be on the agenda soon.

09/03/08, 73,370 miles: The Dak isn't lowered yet but I did get the Power Slot rotors and Hawk pads on the front. I needed to check out a squeak in the front end and discovered it was the stock rotor rubbing on the wheel studs. I could have just cleaned them up and been done with it but why?

So off came the calipers and old rotors. I had picked up some VHT orange caliper paint so that was the next step. I cleaned them well, shot the paint on and let them dry overnight. The next day I popped the Power Slot's on and remounted the calipers. I also discovered that the caliper guide clip was missing from the drivers side. Don't know how long it was missing! Even though the brakes still worked fine I decided I'd better replace it.

While doing the brakes I remembered I wanted to replace the sway bar bushings with polyurethane ones. The weekend after the brake job I tackled that job. One of the rear sway bar links was worn and rattling so it needed replacing anyway. A few guys on the Dak-Dur board had replaced their rear links with the Hotchkis links that come with their sway bar kit. They sell them separate if you call them up ask and they weren't much more than new stockers either. It's a nice piece, all metal tubing with greasable poly bushings. They came with everything to bolt right up to the stock bar location. The only difference is they use 1/2" hardware vs 3/8" hardware which required drilling out the sway bar mount hole.

I picked up some universal Energy Suspension bushings mainly because they are greasable. It's easier to keep any squeaks in check. Since I had to remove the bars and I had a few cans of safety orange paint I cleaned them up and painted them. Adds a little color underneath that can be seen through the spokes of the Hollywood 5's. Not sure yet if I'll paint the drums orange. That may be too much!

The first week of driving with all the new pieces and I'm impressed. It stops very well and handles much flatter. On-ramps and off-ramps are a real blast now. Still bedding the pads in so haven't tried any panic stops yet.

I'm still collecting upgrades too. I grabbed a used 50mm Fastman TB off a guy on Dak-Dur. It's in great shape. Another Dak-Dur member is porting a stock "Kegger" intake manifold in a trade for my stock R/T wheels and tires. This way I'll be able to keep all my stock parts.

05/24/09, 77,785 miles: Haven't updated the page in awhile. Mostly just driven' the Dak. However I did finally get the Nu-Image dash in. Really changed the look of the interior. I also popped the carbon fiber dash surround on. Looks kinda nice. Now I have to get the door pieces done.

Stock - Almost out

Nu-Image in

All in!

With a little Christmas bonus money I bought the Dak a Carriage Works billet grill, upper and lower. I like the look although I'd like to modify the lower to fit more flush. I also picked up some clear lens headlights complete with 80-100W bulbs. I also picked up an LED 3rd brake light/bed light. It required some very minor modifications but fit up perfect and looks great.

Right side in Clear on the left - Stock on the right Both clears in



Stylin Trucks had a "name your price" sale happenin' so I called them up and ordered a Bedrug. Got it for the lowest internet price plus free shipping. The under rail plastic bedliner was okay but with the tonneau cover being carpeted underneath I thought a Bedrug would be more usable and look sweet. It fit well and I really like the look now. It matches the carpet style of the tonneau an almost matches the color. Maybe I'll spray dye the tonneau carpet to match!

12/03/10, 85,370 miles: A few changes since my last update more than 1 year ago! I bought a 6000K Bi-Xenon HID light system off another Dak-Dur member. They were a good deal, brand new never installed too. The Bi-Xenon works like a hi-lo by telescoping the bulb out for the " high beam" to replicate the lo beam high beam of the halogen lights. The 6000K temperature is kind of in the middle and has slightly blue light. Above this they get very blue to almost purple. These look and work out perfect with the clear lens.


Some reproduction 20" R/T wheels came up on e-bay for a good close out price so I bought a set. I always liked the stock R/T wheels and really wanted 20" ones but they were a bit out of my price range. These repro's were better priced before but an even better deal now. My battery was now at least 6 years old so it was time to replace it. I went to Wheelworks and had them install a new Interstate battery and throw my Falkens on the R/T wheels. I like the way it looks now. It still needs to be lowered. I'm working on that by picking up new ball joints and bushings to redo the front suspension at the same time. I also scored some brand new Hotchkis coils off ebay. Locally too so no shipping charges. The Belltechs will go up on the Dak-Dur board.

I'll get pictures of everything posted soon.

03/20/16, 111,222 miles: A long time since I have updated this page. Quite a few changes have been made since the last post in 2010. I'll catch it all up below.

5/26/12 @ 92,626 miles: Replaced a blown water pump. Replaced with Napa True Flow #43034. Since I was tearing the front of the motor off I decided to install the stage 1 ported intake manifold with the Hughes aluminum belly pan (HUG7700). On top of that I installed a custom ported/polished 50mm throttle body. This all added a little more performance and the belly pan took care of the pesky oil leak common on these engines. I apparently didn't document it but sometime around May/June 2013 I installed a 200A alternator including an extra #1 gauge cable to handle the load. The original was still working but when the W.P. blew it sprayed water all over the front of the motor and covered the alternator. I figured it was good insurance to go ahead and replace it. Plus I needed it for the upcoming audio install.


8/18/13, no mileage noted or needed: Finally got around to doing the audio install. I had been working on the sub box for a few months and got it done enough to do some test fitting. Ripped out the interior and over about a month got it all fit up and installed. See the Dak Audio page for details.

8/27/13, 98,888 miles: I finally got around to dropping it. Due to time constraints and this being my everyday vehicle I took it in to East Bay Frame & Axle to have them install everything and align it. A day and a half later I had a 2 inch lower Dak with all new Moog front suspension components and Hotchkis springs front and rear. The ride was definitely firmer but it handles much better now. The Bilsteins were designed for stock ride height (or higher) so I ordered some non adjustable QA-1's front (TN505) and rear TN703). Had to make some custom bushings for the rear shocks as the options that came with them were all the wrong size. McMaster-Carr is great for finding just what you need. After a couple thousand miles I realized the front needed to be stiffer as the tires were hitting the fenders. I ordered up some TS505's which are adjustable for compression. Much better although I still need to dial up a little more firmness. Still haven't taken any pictures of it lowered.


9/29/13, 99,942 miles: Installed Air Lift (#59508) air springs on the rear to compensate for any heavier loads I put in the bed. Helps in winter when I fill up the bladder in the bed to add weight for better wet weather traction.

10/07/13, 99,995 miles: Installed a Magnaflow Stainless Cat-Back exhaust (#15657). My stock muffler was beginning to leak so it was time. Looks good, has a little more rumble than stock at idle but much throatier at full throttle. The tailpipe hangs a little lower than I'd like but that can be fixed by cutting and shortening the rear hanger. Need a welder though.


Other than oil changes and new tires 2014 was pretty uneventful.

7/20/15, 108,151 miles: Water pump blew again. Not impressed with the Napa parts. Lasted just over 15K miles. Hopefully this one lasts longer. When I was checking out the water pump I discovered that the rubber on the harmonic balancer was split and coming out. Too much for me to handle so off to Greg's Automotive. One day and all was replaced and good as new. I was trying to find time to replace the rear brakes. I had all the parts just hadn't found the time. Since I was taking it in to Greg's I had him replace the brakes while he was doing the W.P. and balancer.

The Dak is still running okay at 111K. Still passing smog and still averaging about 12 mpg. I decided not to install the PPH headers (noted above) since they aren't technically legal in CA on a 2000. I also replaced the IP Stage III cold air intake with the stock setup for the same reason. Still using the K&N replacement filter though.

One unfortunate thing is the clearcoat is starting to go in more places other than the roof (hood, tonneau, bed side). Really bummed about that. Not sure what I'm going to do about it at this time. I also discovered that my left clear corner was leaking and ate up the chrome plating inside. Doesn't reflect very well. I temporarily installed the original stock ones but I bought some clear one piece headlight/corner lights. Putting LED bulbs in the turn signals and corner lights.

During this time (@ 105,061 miles) I also replaced the front tires (they were most worn per Brian at Mel's Tires) with Falken S/TZ-05, 275/45-20's. The same size and same brand and style but the newer version.

7/22/15, 108,192 miles: Replaced rear tires with same as the fronts.

10/03/15, 109,199: Replaced front shocks with QA1, TS505 single adjustable. Set about 3/4 hard it doesn't bottom out like it did with the non-adjustables. Sold those on ebay.

3/26/16, no mileage noted: Installed new clear headlight housings and corner lights. Left corner light developed a leak and destroyed the reflector. Reinstalled LED bulbs. Kept HID bulbs in foglights. Installed LED back up bulbs.

3/25/17, 116,101: Replaced front rotors and brake pads. Powerstop K2139-AR8738XL/XR and Powerstop Z23-820 CF/Ceramic. The drivers side pads were worn down to metal scoring the rotor. This was due to a worn caliper seal which was replaced as well. Replaced transmission speed sensor (Dorman #917-602) to correct transmission shifting issues. Seemed to help.

11/08/17, 116,344: Replaced battery with another Interstate MTP-27. Old one was 8 years old! Replaced rear axle speed sensor (Standard ALS203) to try to correct transmission shifting issues. Didn't help.

1/09/18, 118,767: Check engine light activated. Code P1757, Governor pressure not within limits. Took to mechanic fro replacement. Found it was more than that. Tranny was toast. New rebuilt transmission installed. Works sweet now.

1/20/18, 118,785: Truck sold. On to the next toy (see home page).

Never took any pictures of it lowered on the 20" R/T wheels. Probably because of the peeling clear coat the truck was no longer very photogenic.

I'll probably see it occasionally. I sold it to my next door neighbor's uncle.

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