The Dodge Dakota is a truck that was around for a long time, and its production was halted in 2011. It was first produced in 1987 and was a truck loved by thousands of people all around the globe.
It was modern, athletic, and checked all the right boxes, making it a solid overall truck. The truck has not been in production since 2011, and even the most recent model is more than a decade old, meaning any model is bound to have issues.
One of them has resulted in many owners scratching their heads and wondering, “Why won’t my Dodge Dakota start?”. Unfortunately, there can be more than one reason. The good news is, this article will be covering them all.
Before we do that, let’s take a look at them:
- Weak Battery
- Corroded Battery Terminals
- Faulty Ignition Switch
- Malfunctioning Fuel Pump
- Clogged Fuel Filter
Don’t worry. I won’t be wasting any of your time. Just take a deep breath and start reading through this article. Once you identify the problem, you will be able to start working on a solution, so you can be on your way.
So, let’s get into it!
What Would Cause A Dodge Dakota To Not Start?
If you were not in too much of a hurry, you may have read the five possible reasons which could be preventing your Dodge Dakota from starting. This section will discuss them in detail.
1: Weak Battery
If your Dodge Dakota is not starting, the first thing you should check is the battery. It may not have enough power to start your car if it’s weak.
Check the voltage of your battery by taking a voltmeter and testing each terminal while the engine is running. The voltage should be at least 12V. If it is not, there are two possibilities: either the battery is low on charge or completely dead.
You can also identify a weak battery when the lights or the electronics inside the truck are not functioning as intended. They may flicker and turn off, signaling they are not receiving enough juice.
What Should You Do About It?
- When a battery is low on charge, it won’t have enough power to crank over the engine.
- If this is the case with your vehicle, there’s an easy solution: jump-start it with another car!
- You’ll need a set of jumper cables (available at any auto store) and another car with a working battery (which you can borrow from a friend).
- This solution is viable for those people that don’t have a battery charger in hand.
- If jumping did not help with the problem, then it means that the battery has finally reached the end of its lifespan. It may need to be replaced. I would suggest getting an AGM battery.
2: Corroded Battery Terminals
If your Dodge Dakota having issues with starting, one of the first things you should check is the battery terminals. If they’re corroded, it could be causing a problem with your ignition system.
Corrosion on battery terminals can cause a poor connection between the battery and the vehicle’s electrical system. This can prevent your vehicle from starting or running properly. Corrosion can form over time due to the chemical reactions in the battery.
The fumes start to crystallize and then solidify on the battery terminals. This is a very common problem and, fortunately, an easy one to fix.
What Should You Do About It?
- Clean off those terminals! You can do this by using a wire brush or sandpaper to remove any rust or corrosion built up.
- Once you are done, coat them with thin grease or petroleum jelly coating to prevent future corrosion from building up again.
- If you don’t have any grease on hand, Vaseline will work as well—just make sure not to get any on any other parts of your engine because it could damage them!
- In some cases, the corrosion is too intense and cannot be cleaned, so the only solution is to replace the entire battery.
- You can take preventative steps with the new battery too.
- Or you could invest in an AGM battery. It does not rust at all, so you will never have to worry about something like this again. Plus, these batteries are also maintenance-free.
3: Faulty Ignition Switch
The problem could be a faulty ignition switch if you are facing problems in starting your Dodge Dakota. A faulty ignition switch can cause the vehicle not to crank when you turn the key.
The problem may be intermittent or permanent. If you have problems with the ignition switch, it can prevent the engine from starting or make it difficult to start.
Your Dodge Dakota’s ignition switch is under the steering wheel and has two primary parts: a key and a lock cylinder.
The key is what you insert into the lock cylinder when you turn on your car, while the lock cylinder holds the key in place as you drive. If one of them becomes faulty or de-shaped, your engine will not turn over.
What Should You Do About It?
- If you’re experiencing problems with your ignition switch, it’s probably time to replace it.
- First, ensure the issue is with the ignition switch, not something else. You can do this by checking the wiring and fuses.
- If they seem to be in order, then it’s likely that your ignition switch is faulty.
- Next, ensure you have a replacement ignition switch before starting this repair. Your local auto parts store should be able to help you find one that fits your truck.
- If not, look up how much it costs online and order one, and it will be delivered to you soon. Make sure to choose express shipping, so you can get your truck on the road as soon as possible.
4: Malfunctioning Fuel Pump
The fuel pump is a small electric motor that pushes gas from the gas tank to the engine. It works with a fuse box, which relays power to it. If the fuel pump is not working, your Dodge Dakota will not start.
If your Dakota’s fuel pump is malfunctioning, there are several reasons why it could be:
- A faulty fuel pump relay switch or a faulty wiring harness.
- Damage to the fuel pump itself (which may be caused by corrosion or debris).
I must clarify that a fuel pump failure is a rare issue, which means that you should not jump to the conclusion that it is the source of the problem. After ruling everything out, you should only check if the fuel pump is faulty.
What Should You Do About It?
- If your fuel pump is malfunctioning, you might want to consider replacing it.
- Replacing a fuel pump isn’t difficult. You can do it yourself with the right tools and knowledge of how cars work.
- The first thing you’ll have to do is locate the fuel pump. It’s typically located near the fuel tank in most cars.
- If you can’t find it immediately, check your owner’s manual for more detailed instructions on where to look for it.
- Once you’ve located your fuel pump, unplug any wires or hoses connected to it and remove the screws holding it into place.
- Reattach any wires or hoses previously attached and secure with screws as needed. Then pull out the old pump and put in your new one.
5: Clogged Fuel Filter
Your Dodge Dakota will not start if you have a clogged fuel filter. The fuel filter keeps dirt and grime out of your engine.
If it’s clogged, your vehicle won’t be able to get enough fuel from the tank and will eventually stop running altogether.
It is indeed true that the fuel you put in your engine is not clean. It has debris and contaminants, which has to be stopped from entering the engine.
In the process of doing so, it starts getting clogged, which may build up to the point that it may not let any fuel through. That is the job of the fuel filter.
What Should You Do About It?
- If you have a clogged fuel filter in your Dodge Dakota, there are two ways to deal with it. You can clean it out, or you can replace it.
- The latter is recommended because cleaning a clogged fuel filter can be tricky and time-consuming, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could damage the filter.
- You may think that it is cleaned, but it may let contaminants pass through and will damage the engine.
- This is why many mechanics will tell you that replacing the fuel filter is the best action in this situation. It is cheap, and you can get one from any auto shop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start With New Battery?
The new battery could be drained. You may need to charge it before starting to use it. Another possibility is that your alternator is bad and needs replacing.
In this case, I recommend taking it to a mechanic or auto shop in your area who can diagnose the issue.
Q2. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start Even With A Jump?
Your Dodge Dakota’s battery may be completely dead, which would be the simplest explanation for why you are unable to jumpstart. However, it’s also possible that your Dakota has frayed cables or corrosion on its terminals.
You can check this by taking a voltmeter to the battery terminals and measuring the voltage. If there is no voltage, you’ll need to replace your battery.
Q3. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start But Lights Work?
This can happen if you’ve left your lights on overnight. If that is the case, you may need to charge the battery again.
Another possibility is that the alternator is dead and not charging the battery. This means that it may need to be replaced. You may need to tow your truck to the nearest mechanic.
Q4. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start But Cranks?
It sounds like the problem could be one of two things. Fuel is not reaching the engine. Or spark plugs are not creating a spark resulting in the engine not starting and a cranking sound being produced. Fuel not reaching the engine could be due to a faulty fuel pump or a clogged fuel filter.
Q5. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start Just Clicks?
A dead battery can cause clicking sounds, but so can other problems. The battery cables may be frayed, preventing current from being sent by the battery.
The same issue could also be due to corroded terminals. You need to check all of them, and if they are not causing the issue, then it needs to be checked by a professional.
Q6. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start In The Cold Weather?
If you’re having trouble starting your Dodge Dakota in cold weather, it may be because the battery is not designed for cold weather situations.
It may have low cranking amperes (CA), which means it doesn’t have enough power to start your vehicle. A battery needs at least 800 CA to function properly in cold weather.
Q7. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start After I Get Gas?
If you’ve noticed that your Dodge Dakota is not starting after you’ve taken it to get gas, it could be because of a few different issues.
One common reason is a failing fuel pump. Another possibility is that something is clogging up your fuel filter. A clogged fuel filter can also prevent your engine from starting up properly.
Q8. Why Won’t My Dodge Dakota Start But Radio Works?
If you’ve got a Dodge Dakota that is having problems in starting, but the radio is working, then it’s likely that your battery is low on charge.
If your battery is at the end of its lifespan, it may not hold a charge anymore. The issue could also be due to a faulty alternator. It may not be charging your battery.
Related: What Are The Worst Years For The Dodge Dakota?
I hope you’ve learned a lot from this article and that you’re now armed with the knowledge necessary to troubleshoot problems with your Dodge Dakota.
Don’t get frustrated. Slowly read through the issues listed above, and you will find the one preventing you from being on the road.
If you’re still having trouble getting it started, don’t worry—plenty of resources are available to help. If you’re having trouble with your truck, I recommend contacting a professional mechanic or doing research online.
I hope you found this guide helpful and that it helped answer your question, “Why won’t my Dodge Dakota start?”.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to creating an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.