What is odometer fraud?
There are dishonest dealers out there who intentionally roll odometers back so they can artificially inflate the vehicle’s value. Vehicles that have a low mileage are priced higher. By omitting 35000-40000 miles, they can boost the vehicle’s value by $2000-$3000 or more.
There are two types of odometers: mechanical and digital. With mechanical odometers, the speedometer can be removed from the dashboard and the digits can be rolled back manually.
The second type is the digital odometer. Digital odometers were supposed to make it harder for criminals to tamper with them, but they have still managed to find a way to hack them.
Most vehicles store their digital odometer reading on the instrument cluster on a rewritable EEPROM chip. Once the chip is located, they will have it desoldered from the board and get it connected to a computer where its data can be downloaded and manipulated.
The odometer data are then edited to reflect a lower mileage, which is then re-soldered to the odometer board and put back into the car.
Why is odometer fraud a problem?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, odometer fraud throughout the country results in consumer losses of approximately four billion dollars annually. Victims of this fraud are commonly the least able to afford it, since buyers of used cars include large numbers of low income people. In addition, consumers generally are unaware of being victimized.
Tampering the odometer not only raises the value of the vehicle, it also deceives buyers with the vehicle’s remaining useful life. In many cases, the vehicle was sold for several thousand dollars above its actual value, but the new owner is already out there spending money because of unexpected repairs.
How do I protect myself from odometer fraud?
Here are a few tips that will help you determine if the odometer has been tampered. Make sure that you keep these things in mind when you buy a used car.
Check The Instrument Dashboard
Make sure that the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned correctly. They shouldn’t be crooked, and there shouldn’t be any gaps. Check if it jiggles when you bang on the dash with your hand. If the vehicle has an analog odometer, as opposed to newer digital readouts, check that the numbers are lined up straight.
Look for some man made marks inside the instrument cluster. Look for fingerprints or smudge marks. If you find some, it is a sure sign that someone has been in the cluster. Look for loose parts and switches that do not belong. There have already been reported cases of vehicles being rigged with switches that turns the odometer off and on.
Check The Wear And Tear
Make sure that the wear and tear match the declared mileage. Look out for signs such as worn seats, scratches on the keyhole, the steering wheel and other vehicle parts. These are indicators that the vehicle has been used a lot. If it looks too worn for the declare mileage that means that it has been rolled back. Check the vehicle’s tires. If it shows 20000 mi or less it should have the original tires.
Look For Service Stickers
If you are checking a car with a digital odometer, it will be difficult to see physical signs of tampering. You can only know by dismantling the instrument cluster to see if the odometer has been desoldered.You can look for service stickers inside the door or under the hood that may give the actual mileage.
If the odometer has been replaced or if a mileage correction was done, there will be a sticker showing:
Get A Vehicle History Report
Get a vehicle history report to compare the recorded mileage and the displayed mileage. Check the mileage on the car’s title records and the odometer, it will help point out any discrepancies.
The most comprehensive Automotive Data & Analytics
- Automotive Market Trends & Insights
- White Papers & Researches
- Auto Market Analytics Articles