Sometimes the cheapest vehicle you can buy is one that strongly discourages you from ever becoming a life-long auto enthusiast.
Few cars do a better job with this than the Dodge Dynasty.
The one you see above managed to go 328,946 miles before it got finally traded in to a dealership in Louisville. At that time the odometer appeared to be devoid of defect.
Then something strange happened. It got labeled ‘true miles unknown’ somewhere between trade-in time and finally being sold on the front line. True miles unknown is abbreviated as TMU in the East coast and ‘not actual miles’ or NAM in the West Coast, and it means that at least three things could have happened to this vehicle.
1) The odometer did indeed break before the vehicle was traded-in.
2) The odometer ceased to function while in the dealer fleet due to ‘natural causes’.
3) Someone replaced or damaged the odometer cluster and decided to sell it as TMU instead of telling the buyer about the actual mileage.
I see an awful lot of #3 at the auctions and, in my experiences, new car dealers who are wholesaling the same brand of vehicle that they retail to the public are by far the worst offenders of the brood.
Ford F150’s will have the dimming switches for their instrument clusters broke off so that no matter how you turn them, the odometer reading will never light up. At dealer auctions, a professional familiar with this trick will always price these trucks accordingly.
But I fondly recall a public auction where the dealer in question would send a fleet of F150’s every month that were all true miles unknown along with a few choice low mileage trade-ins with working odometers. The public who attended this auction was clueless, predominantly Latino, and either illegal and/or unable to easily follow the auctioneer’s chant.
The ring personnel, all of whom spoke Spanish, would smile earnestly and help these struggling newcomers buy vehicles that were often times as wore out as an old mop. Everyone knew what was going on. But could you prove actual wrongdoing?
The buyers would end up paying about an $800 to $1500 premium over the wholesale price. Multiply that by about ten sales a month, and the dealership was netting right around a $10,000 monthly premium by doing this. The auction got to sell more of their inventory and with the public sales, fees were more than double than what was typically charged at the wholesale dealer auctions.
I always noted to myself that the ‘soul’ exceptions who took part in this douchebaggery were counterbalanced by the ‘sole’ exceptions who didn’t realize that auctions are not level playing fields. The guy who is afraid of signing sixteen pages of legalese at a dealership because he can’t read English, is often no better off attending a public auction in the hope of finding a better deal.
Wanna beat the system? Don’t play it in the first place. In the meantime, I’m willing to bet that the last buyer of this 18 year old, 328k miled Dynasty sold as true miles unknown back in 2010 will not become an auto enthusiast anytime soon.