Odometer fraud is a deceptive practice in which a vehicle’s odometer is rolled back or tampered with to display a lower mileage than the car has travelled. This can lead to overpaying for a used car and encountering unexpected maintenance issues. In this guide, we’ll provide tips on how to spot signs of odometer tampering.
Five signs of odometer tampering
- Inconsistent wear and tear: Look for signs of wear that don’t match the displayed mileage, such as excessive wear on the pedals, steering wheel, or upholstery.
- Scratches or marks around the odometer: Inspect the odometer for signs of tampering, such as scratches or marks around the display or misaligned digits.
- Dashboard warning lights: Pay attention to dashboard warning lights that may have been disabled to hide issues related to high mileage.
- Inconsistent service records: Check the vehicle’s service records for inconsistencies or gaps in maintenance history that could indicate odometer tampering.
- Mismatched tyres: Look for mismatched tyres, which could suggest that the tyres were replaced due to wear that doesn’t align with the displayed mileage. Each tyre should have a manufacturing date code in its TIN, or Tyre Identification Number.
How to make informed decisions when buying a used car based on mileage
When purchasing a used car with mileage as the leading factor for your decision, it’s crucial to consider all available information and compare different options:
- Vehicle Comparison: Compare multiple cars side by side to help you choose the best used car for your needs.
- Market Value: Research the fair market value of a used car to help ensure you’re paying a reasonable price for its condition and history.
- Car Depreciation Calculator: Estimate the depreciation of a used car over time to better understand its long-term value.
- Car Research Tool: Gather information on various car makes and models to help you make an informed decision.
How common is odometer fraud?
While it’s difficult to estimate the exact prevalence of odometer fraud, it remains a concern in the used car market. As a buyer, it’s important to be vigilant and use the tools and resources at your disposal to verify a car’s mileage history and avoid falling victim to odometer fraud.
What are the consequences of buying a car with a tampered odometer?
Purchasing a car with a tampered odometer can result in overpaying for a vehicle and encountering unexpected maintenance costs. Additionally, the car may have a lower resale value due to its true mileage.
How can I protect myself from odometer fraud when buying a used car?
To try to protect yourself from odometer fraud, inspect the vehicle for signs of tampering, review its service records, additionally, consider having a trusted mechanic inspect the car to identify any potential issues related to high mileage.
Can digital odometers be rolled back?
While digital odometers are generally more secure than their mechanical counterparts, they are not immune to tampering. Unscrupulous individuals may use specialised tools or software to manipulate digital odometers. As a buyer, it’s essential to be vigilant and use the same resources and inspections to verify a car’s mileage, regardless of the type of odometer it has.
Detecting odometer tampering is crucial when purchasing a used car, as it can lead to overpaying and unexpected maintenance issues. By inspecting the car for signs of odometer rollback and using our tools and resources to research its possible mileage history, you’re taking essential steps that can help you make an informed decision and enjoy a successful experience in the used car market.
Nelson Xavier Ssenyange
Germax Autos, Spares & Garage Ltd
Lukade Road, Naalya