A buyer's guide to escaping the odometer, mileage fraud in the used car market

Ask the Mechanic

By Samuel Okello

Oftentimes, there are fact checks that are physically done by car buyers, often known as pre-purchase inspection. In most cases, it’s the mileage reflected on the dashboard that guides these checks.

It communicates the extent to which the car has been worked. This doesn’t go without saying your car dealer doesn’t have a way around it.

The lower the mileage, the better the car thus the higher the price.

A car dealer would rather opt to import a high mileage car and rewind the mileage to lower values and shoot the price up for higher profit because anyway, business is about profit maximization it shouldn’t be in a fraudulent way.

Today we guide you on the things you need to look out for to ensure the mileage of the car in question isn’t tampered with.

1.Insist on the car's documentation from when the car was last registered. It’s a history report that comes with every car that’s being imported.

Ask for export certificates or Inspection certificates. When availed to you, compare the mileage on the report with that on the dash.

Better still, ask for repair or maintenance records, which will also list the car's actual indicated mileage at the time the car was serviced.

If the seller can't avail the report, that’s a red flag already.

2. Older cars having traditional analog odometers are often opened and physically rewound.

For this category of cars, check the dashboard and instrument cluster area and look for signs of damage that would come with signs of a hack job.

Signs like suspicious scratches, cracks, and uneven sealing between surfaces. These will communicate whether the mileage has probably been tampered with or not.

3.Look at the pedals, steering wheel, and shifter for signs of heavy wear that would not be consistent with a lower-mileage car.

Also, look at the odometer gauge itself to see if the number of dials is crooked or contains gaps. for these, don’t give any benefit of doubt.

4. Newer cars with digital odometers are fairly harder to tell if the mileage has been tampered with. The best way to tell is by paying attention to the extent of wear and tear on other parts of the car like foot pedals, gear levers, steering, and tires.

If the amount of wear and tear is physical yet the car is low on mileage, know the car's mileage has been tampered with. That’s a no no.

 5. Just in case you fall a victim of such a circumstance, especially for cars that you imported by yourself. It’s not a total loss. File a complaint to the exporter directly and if it’s a genuine car dealer, a compensation should be done to you. It’s not a guarantee though.

Whether buying a used car from a car exporter or private source, you should use the same high level of care and common sense that you would with any other expensive purchase.

To avoid all this mess, or if you aren’t sure about what to look out for, consider taking on our pre purchase inspection service.

A honest no biased experienced technician from S Line Motors Ltd,will be availed to you with all the tools needed to do inspection on a car and helps you make informed decisions before you make your purchase

At S-Line Motors Ltd, we fix it right the very first time!


B.Eng. Automotive and Power Engineering

Technical Director

S-Line Motors LTD

Plot 6, Ojara Close, Mbuya


0779745722 / 0708000888


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