what is causing my 02 Dakota to idle rough and pop or backfire through the airflow
Is the check engine light on? If it is, read the codes and go from there
Popping and backfires indicate a timing problem.
Check your PCV valve and the hose that goes to it. Both cheap parts that are 16 years old now. PCV valve may be clogged which will dry out the hose and cause it to fail. This will cause your rough idle and back fire through the plenum. I just repaired mine on my 2001 Dakota. Cured the problem instantly.
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