If you are thinking about buying a used car then read carefully. In the state of California alone, there are an estimated 295,000 cars with false odometer readings. Dishonest used car vendors know that low mileage is a big selling point, so they use odometer rollback or “clocking” to increase sales. Let’s see how this is done and how to protect yourself.
Tampering Easier Than Ever
In the past, with mechanical odometers, it was more difficult to rollback the mileage. Now, with digital displays, it is easy to alter the odometer with equipment designed for mechanics. The scam artists just plug in the tool, push a few buttons, and shave off thousand miles from the odometer reading. Other illegal methods are odometer replacement and disconnecting the odometer.
The US Department of Justice estimates that victims of odometer rollback fraud lose an average of $4000 per vehicle. Unfortunately, this type of criminal activity is on the rise. So if a used car salesperson claims that a vehicle was only driven by a little old lady for grocery shopping once a week – and that’s why the odometer only shows 500 miles – think twice.
Ways To Spot The Scam
Here are some tips for spotting odometer rollback:
- Check warranty, service, and oil change records. If service was completed under a warranty, the mileage should have been recorded. Also, oil change stickers with mileage notation might be found under the hood, on windows, or in the glove compartment.
- Ask for inspection records. These always record the mileage.
- Take a close look at the title. The mileage at the time of sale should be recorded. Examine the document carefully to see if it has been altered or smudged.
- Multiple sales in a short time are a red flag. New titles might be issued only to hide mileage rollback.
- The salesperson’s ID should match the name on the title and registration.
- Get a vehicle history report which indicates mileage in many cases. Find out how to get a report with a CARCHEX partner now.
Vehicle History Reports
Perhaps the easiest method to detect odometer fraud is with the vehicle history report. Every motor vehicle carries a vehicle identification number (VIN) that is recorded, along with mileage, whenever the vehicle is serviced. This data is also recorded when an accident is reported or when the car is sold, inspected, or has a title or registration change.
No report includes all the data on a vehicle, but a vehicle history report typically has a lot of useful information of interest to any used car buyer – including odometer readings.
Don’t Get Taken For A Ride
Unfortunately, odometer fraud is on the rise, but you don’t have to be a victim. Get a vehicle history report and get the real odometer reading plus a lot more useful information to help make smart buying decisions.