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We’ve already talked about the frauds and the tricks that dealerships can pull on you . One of the most destructive, dangerous and, unfortunately, the most widespread is odometer fraud. According to carfax.com data, approximately 1 out of 10 used cars are sold with rolled-back mileage on the odometer.
The used car market is full of swindlers trying to make a fortune by fooling unaware buyers. One recent example is Kyle Novitsky and Judith Aloe , who in the past 9 years sold about 247 vehicles in Florida, California and Philadelphia, with rolled-back odometer readings, sometimes by up to 100,000 miles.
The government has taken many measures against this illegal tampering: prosecution, high fines, arrests and stiff sentences for violators. But in spite of all this, odometer fraud continues to be a huge consumer fraud issue that costs buyers billions of dollars yearly!
Auto experts say that decreasing the odometer readings is a comparatively easy thing to do–both mechanical and digital odometers. The numbers on a mechanical odometer can just be rolled back and a digital odometer can be simply reprogrammed with the help of relatively inexpensive software. According to Carfax, digital odometer tampering is even harder to detect than tampering of a traditional mechanical odometer (since digital odometers have no visible moving parts). Schemers use the tools meant to correct mileage on digital odometers to clock the gauges .
How to Identify Odometer Fraud?
Since odometer fraud is a really common issue, do your best to inspect the car before buying it. It can be difficult and confusing to detect the scam, but not impossible! Read the tips below to learn how to prevent yourself from wasting money.
- Check mileage readings on titles, prior odometer disclosure statements, warranties, service records, etc., for any discrepancies or signs of alteration.
- Look for oil change or inspection stickers under the hood or on the door frame.
- Look for warranty documents or service records in the glove box.
- Examine the dashboard for physical signs of interference such as scratches and marks near the odometer dial and misaligned digits and missing or loose screws.
- Look at the tires. If the odometer reads 20,000 miles or less, the vehicle should have the original tires.
- Take a test drive and pay special attention to the gas, brake and clutch pedals to see if the wear seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
Help Fight the Fraud!
Odometer fraud is an illegal affair in all 50 states, and if you feel like you have been the victim of a scam, you can always contact the Consumer Outreach Program , provided by the NHTSA. They will provide you with the information you need and point you toward sources that can help you remedy the matter.