Monday Mileage Champion: Discovering A Lost Dynasty

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

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.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Mr Imperial Mr Imperial on May 07, 2013

    As I mentioned in a reply above, odometer fraud is very unlikely. The internals to the odometer probably broke due to age. Several posts mention the Ultradrive transmission-which did sour many an owner to these cars. My 1992 Imperial had its original unit fail at 110,000 miles. The rebuilt unit from Quality Transmission of Kalamazoo (highly recommend them to anyone local) lasted until an accident retired the car at 267,000 miles. I'd be driving it today if I could. The 3.3/3.8 V6's were nearly bulletproof. Common to these engines were cylinder head covers that needed to be retightened or new gaskets (an easy fix), and fuel rails that leaked at the hinge points. Other than those issues, the engine is reliable. If equipped with the air suspension, many an owner decided to rid themselves of the car instead of pay for costly replacement parts. The Bendix ABS assembly was also very failure prone and costly. I miss these cars and their gaudy backwards-looking luxury!

  • Modelt1918 Modelt1918 on May 07, 2013

    Growing up, the talk about any Chrysler product was that the driveline was bullet proof but, the body and interior was junk. Because of that, I would never have bought a Dodge or Chrysler of any kind much less a Dy Nasty in this time period.

    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on May 07, 2013

      I was waiting for the Die Nasty joke -- was surprised it took this long.

  • C-b65792653 I'm starting to wonder about Elon....again!!I see a parallel with Henry Ford who was the wealthiest industrialist at one time. Henry went off on a tangent with the peace ship for WWI, Ford TriMotor, invasive social engineering, etc. Once the economy went bad, the focus fell back to cars. Elon became one of the wealthiest industrialist in the 21st century. Then he went off with the space venture, boring holes in the ground venture, "X" (formerly Twitter), etc, etc, etc. Once Tesla hit a plateau and he realized his EVs were a commodity, he too is focused on his primary money making machine. Yet, I feel Elon is over reacting. Down sizing is the nature of the beast in the auto industry; you can't get around that. But hacking the Super Charger division is like cutting off your own leg. IIRC, GM and Ford were scheduled to sign on to the exclusive Tesla charging format. That would have doubled or tripled his charging opportunity. I wonder what those at the Renaissance Center and the Glass House are thinking now. As alluded to, there's blood in the water and other charging companies will fill the void. I believe other nations have standardized EV charging (EU & China). Elon had the chance to have his charging system as the default in North America. Now, he's dropped the ball. He's lost considerable influence on what the standardized format will eventually be. Tremendous opportunity lost. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.