How to Increase Horsepower on a Dodge Dakota

by Aaron MarquisUpdated November 07, 2017
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intake hose image by Five Arrows from

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

  • Screwdriver set

The Dodge Dakota is an ample truck when it comes to horsepower and torque, but, if you want to increase horsepower for added performance, you can add a number of bolt-on parts from aftermarket and factory approved retailers. Increasing the horsepower of your Dodge Dakota can be beneficial if you regularly tow large items, haul heavy loads or pile passengers into the cabin. Some engine modifications, like air filters, increase the overall gas mileage of your engine.

Remove the stock air intake box and replace the unit with a high-performance cold-air intake system. The stock box on the Dodge Dakota significantly restricts the amount of air that can flow through the vehicle's throttle body and into the intake manifold. A cold-air intake allows an air filter to sit out in the open inside of the engine bay, eliminating the need for a plastic housing container. The stock air intake box can be removed in under 30 minutes with basic tools. Loosen the bolts holding the box to the fender well, then loosen the clamp holding the air intake hose to the box. Install the cold-air intake using the factory provided instruction manual.

Replace the factory throttle body on your Dodge Dakota with a high-flow aftermarket model. The throttle body on your Dakota is responsible for allowing air into the intake manifold. The amount of air that passes through the throttle body is entirely dependent on how hard you press on the gas pedal. When the throttle body is fully open, however, it can only move so much air. A high-flow throttle body provides more cubic feet of air per minute into the engine's cylinders, allowing for stronger combustion and more horsepower. You can remove the stock throttle body by loosening the four bolts that hold it in place. Install the new throttle body and gasket via the included instructions.

Upgrade your Dodge's Engine Control Unit (ECU). The ECU is essentially the "brain" of your Dakota, and performs multiple tasks. An upgrade to your ECU will significantly increase horsepower levels by adjusting your transmission's shift points, timing and fuel mapping. You can find the ECU under the right side of your Dakota's dashboard. Aftermarket ECU program modules simply "piggyback" or click into the unit.

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