Removing a Door Panel on a Dodge Dakotaby Don Bowman
The door panel on a Dodge Dakota is held on with plastic friction plugs that look similar to a flathead screw with a larger than normal head. The shank is peeled back to create a friction when pushed into a receptacle. These can be reused if care is taken when removing them.
Removing the Door Panel
Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the two screws in the armrest located in the bottom side. Remove the screw that retains a plastic piece in the front of the door handle. Remove the plastic cover that conceals the mounting point for the outside mirror on the top front of door panel. Insert a common screwdriver in between the door panel and the door frame at the top rear of the door panel. Slide it down until it comes into contact with one of the fasteners and gently pry it out of the hole in the door frame. Slide the screwdriver down until it contacts the next one and so on until all of the fasteners are out. The top of the door panel where it curves toward the window is hooked onto a horizontal ledge. Tip the bottom of the panel outward a little, lift up to unhook the panel from the top ledge and pull the panel away for about 6 inches. There are two rods that extend from the door latch to the door handle. One of them is the rod that activates the door lock mechanism and the other is for the door latch. Unhook the small plastic retainers located on the door handle that are snapped onto the rods. Lift the rods out of their holders. Remove the wiring connector on the backside of the window switch and the wire from the small marker light on the bottom outside of the door.
Installing the Door Panel
Hold the door close to the door frame and attach the wiring harness connectors to the window switch and the lower marker light. Attach the door latch rods to the door handle and snap the retainers in place. Tip the bottom of the door outward and hook the top sill onto the horizontal ledge. Lay it down and line the friction fasteners up with their individual holes in the doordframe. Push them in. Install the screws in the armrest and the plastic cover in the front of the door handle. Install the plastic cover. Install the cover that conceals the mounting surface for the outside mirror.
Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).