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Advice for Noob

Discussion in 'Residential Snow Removal' started by JohnCT, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Hey all. Just registered after days of searching posts. Learned some stuff but still have questions about a few things. Just picked up an 02 Dakota SLT QC with a Snoway MT80 plow. Only has 50K miles on it. Will be using it to clear our 300ft driveway along with a couple family members'. Need to figure out if it has the towing package, otherwise I will look into getting a tranny cooler for it. It did come from the factory with a hitch. I also read about tightening up the torsion bars a bit? I'm guessing this is to lift the front end a bit? One other thing, this will be a daily driver for me. I noticed taking the truck home when I bought it that the coolant temp spiked due to the plow being on it. Is there any way to stop this from happening? An aftermarket electric fan maybe?

    Anything else anyone can add to help me out would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Heres a shot of my new toy...
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    Have you got the owner's manual? It should show how to tell if you got the plow prep package (coded on the VIN, probably). As for overheating - drop the moldboard (blade) a little to allow air flow to the fan & radiator. Angle left or fight, which might will also help. Check the owner manual - some trucks don't do well with an angled plow (my Chevy 2500HD for example. Owner manual says not to angle plow and it wasn't fooling.)
  3. JBMiller616

    JBMiller616 Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    Here is a VIN decoder for Dodge Trucks, didn't say anything in there about a tow package though. Best thing to do would be to pop the hood and look in front of the radiator. This is usually where the coolers are mounted, along with the AC condenser. Both of them look very similar, just trace the lines to see if you have any running to the transmission.
  4. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks. I've looked. Tranny lines run into the radiator and there's a cooler with A/C lines running to it in front of the radiator. I also see what looks like an electric fan on the backside of the radiator in front of the clutch fan.

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,136

    take it easy, and plow slow, we had an 02 dakota v8 with a blizzard plow and blew the trans at 30k miles. if it doesnt have one ABSOLUTELY add an aftermarket tranny cooler, and a trans temp gauge. the dakota really doesnt hold up well if your beating on it.
  6. JBMiller616

    JBMiller616 Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    Sounds like you have a tranny cooler then. I wouldn't really be able to tell w/o looking at it, but if it does in fact have coolant lines running from the transmission to the rad you should be fine. If not, like Goldpro said, I would add one. You can get a B&M cooler from a place like summit or maybe even pep boys for cheap, and they're pretty easy to install.
  7. cvfl

    cvfl Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Even if it has a factory tranny cooler - I would swap it for a B&M plate cooler - much more efficient than a factory fin and tube style. More surface area = more cooling.
  8. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks guys. Makes sense, but I don't know if I'll be able to fit it with that other factory cooler in front of the radiator. Anyone know what that one's for? Haven't seen a cooler for the air conditioning system before, but the lines entering it run to the a/c condensor. Also, was looking at the one below.

    B&M Tranny Cooler
  9. CarCrazed4Life

    CarCrazed4Life Senior Member
    Messages: 171

    The Factory Tow Package included a Trans Oil Cooler. If it doesn't have one, install it. The Factory Tow Package also included 265/70/16s instead of the stock 245/70/16s. I swapped out the 265/70/16s for 245/75/16 with the Severe Winter Weather ratings (aka Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armors in Load E rating)

    Besides that, install a set of Timbrens Front (& Back, might as well...) and crank up the torsion bars to level the front and back. I have an MT90 (7'6") plow and I'm not easy with it. Its a great truck if you setup it up right.

    I actually swapped out my 2wd/4hi/4lo Transfercase for an awd/4hi/4lo... I usually use a tail gate salter filled with salt which acts as my ballast, and I keep a few bags of salt against the tailgate. I've never had to worry about much with this truck. I've had it since 19k and it now has 79k. This is my 4th winter plowing with it, and I'm pretty rough with her.

    Great truck. You'll love the big truck feel in a small footprint!
  10. cfdeng7

    cfdeng7 Senior Member
    from CT
    Messages: 376

    even if it has a factory one ive heard of guys running a second trans cooler
  11. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks for all the replies guys.

    Can someone explain where the bolts for the torsion bar adjustments are? At the lower control arms or near the tranny crossmember? Are there any threads here with pictures of it?

    Also, the stock tranny cooler is inside the radiator. I also have the A/C condensor that looks like a mini radiator mounted to the front of the radiator, so there is no room for an auxiliary cooler there. Don't know where else I'd be able to put one.
  12. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    Remember that Dodge Trans pumps do not run in park. Let the unit idle in drive for a while to allow the trans to cool.
  13. topdj

    topdj Senior Member
    Messages: 396

    wow I didn't know that Basher, I though all auto's trans pumps ran in idle.
    I do know since I have a trans temp gauge, that coming to a complete stop before shifting keeps the trans much cooler. but my wife does not listen to me and I see her shift from Fwd to Rev while still rolling :)
  14. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    That is covered in chapter eleven of Dr. Semen Fraud's* new book Snowplowing 4 Dummies. under the title Sluffting the Trans or how to cook a transmission in one Micky D's parking lot:D

    *Doctor of Theology; Church of the Holy Insurrection, PhD, NAPA, MADD, STD, PITA, Executive Director; Institute for the Study of Snowplow Pornocology
  15. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Thanks for the heads up about the tranny pump. Does raising the front suspension by tightening the torsion bar bolts one or two turns require the front end be re-aligned???
  16. RipT

    RipT Senior Member
    Messages: 184

    Agree with most of the suggestions mentioned above. Since this rig is for personal use, minimize driving on highways with plow on....even with trans cooler, blade will severely obstruct air flow into the grill which will reduce cooling to everything. Moderate distances on secondary roads should be ok but still best not any more than you have to.

    I would also recommend plowing in LowRange to minimize stress to the transmission and to keep the engine revs up to keep the battery charging at max. Also minimize use of lights & blade lift & angle as you will suck that battery down real quick otherwise. Make sure you have good winter tires, not just all-season.

    4 to 500 lbs of ballast (sand bags work well) in the back will also aid plowing performance a lot!

    Should do the job for you .....good luck!
  17. JohnCT

    JohnCT Junior Member
    Messages: 11

    Great info. Thanks.
  18. ajman21

    ajman21 Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    yes if you like your tires to last you'll want to get it aligned. be careful cranking the toursion bar to much as it will wear out your cv joints and other front end components faster as well.
  19. dougiu

    dougiu Junior Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 6

    Same setup as you

    Hey, I basically have what looks to be the same setup as you except I have an '04 Dakota and my new plow is a Snowbear 82". I have a tranny cooler from the factory and it sounds like you do too. My plow weighs 206lb according to the manufacturer which is why I went with that one.
    Anyway, I knew some stuff had to be beefed up to plow but I struck out on anything really meaningful to upgrade the suspension. I ended up replacing the stock front shocks with heavy duty Bilsteins from Summit Racing for $120 and a new crazy-huge battery for $100.
    My plow only sinks the front end an inch or two so I'll drop a few hundred pounds ballast in the back and see what happens.
    I've heard some horror stories about wearing out my Dakota and then some that have had no problems. Hope I'm in the latter group!
    Let me know how yours does and I'll do the same.
    It's frickin' 60 degrees in Indy today so it may be awhile before I get to test mine.
    Happy Plowing!
  20. bravada75

    bravada75 Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    i got a 04 dakota quad cab with a boss 7 ft sport duty about 400# and i put timbren on the front did not have to crank the tortion bars at all just take it off when not plowing i know it is not that hard to do it will make your truck last a lot longer then keeping it on all winter