COAL: 1989 Dodge Dynasty – Can’t Escape That K-car Heritage

Note: None of these pictures are of the actual car

After my wife’s Bonneville was totalled by the insurance company, we needed to get another car fast.  Fortunately, I was able to dip into the flipper vehicle pool for a 89 Dodge Dynasty LE that I had just purchased.

This car was tan like the first picture in this post.  It was purchased from a co-worker, who routinely traded his cars.  I had purchased several cars from him in the past, so I knew that they were relatively well cared for.  Not pristine, but not bad considering the price.  It had been driven by his daughter, who tangled with a deer one evening.  The left front fender was badly dented and the grille was cracked.  Everything else looked to be in good shape

The interior room of this car was good and the cloth covered seats were comfortable.  One thing I didn’t like about the dash was the instrument cluster.  It didn’t look symmetrical like those in other Chrysler cars.

An issue with the instrument cluster that I encountered was that the gauges and speedometer would intermittantly go to zero and then back to their proper positions.  Investigation over a couple of weeks revealed corrosion on a wiring harness connector that was routed under the battery tray.  Took the connector apart, cleaned the contacts, and all was well.

The trunk of the Dynasty was much more spacious than the standard K-car.  The spare tire was relocated to the floor to increase usability, but it still suffered from a high liftover.

After I got a new fender and grille to repair the collision damage, I then set to work to repair any other maladies.  The air conditioning didn’t work and the fan didn’t seem to have more than one speed.  The condenser had been damaged in the deer collision, so I replaced it and recharged the system.  The blower fan problem was due to a failed fan resistor as seen above.  Unfortunately, it was only accessible from inside the car.  Why not fasten it to the firewall from the engine compartment and then you would have spent on 5 minutes to change it.  You could see it from under the hood, but it could only be removed by disassembing part of the dash.

The resistor only cost $12 at the dealer, but required a significant amount of time to get at it along with a great amount of physical distortion.  The funny thing was that some of the resistors had rusted through and the previous owner tried to repair it by using silicone sealer to reconnect them.  LOL.  Once the resistor was replaced, the blower motor worked well.

Another problem with the car was the tendency of the engine to smoke when at idle.  Turns out that this was well known as worn valve guides.  Time to pull both heads and get them repaired.  Reassembly required replacement of the timing belt, which on this engine was a little tricky.

The sprocket on the right bank matched the mark on the engine at a neutral spot on the rear cover.  In other words, the marks lined up and the cam was in between opening valves.  The left bank was a little more challenging.  The timing marks only lined up when one of the valves was open.  Moving the sprocket a little too far resulted in the cam moving to a “no valves open” position the timing and not in alignment with the timing mark.  After a few tries, I was able to get things lined up and the auto-tensioner released to keep it in time.  Overall, the 3.0L engine was a decent design that offered good performance and fuel economy.

Overall, the Dynasty served its purpose well while I was waiting for delivery of a new car.  I drove it for six months and sold it for more than I had in it.