How to spot odometer rollback

You have your eye on a low-mileage used car that looks like a great deal. But is it really what they claim it is? The odometer reading has a lot to do with the value of a car, and it says a lot about the life it has had so far. It’s important to check out the story it is telling you.

Many people think that today’s electronic odometers are harder to rollback, but that is simply not true. It some ways, it is even easier than it ever was. And the financial incentive to do so makes it very temping. Here’s how you can tell if it was done to that car you have your eye on.

Too good to be true?

The first sign that you may be looking at a car with its odometer rolled back is if the mileage is simply too low. An average car has 12,000 miles put on it per year, so any car being offered with less than that should immediately be considered suspect.

Of course, some people put many more miles than that on a car in a year, and those are the cars which are most tempting to rollback. It is important to look for wear. Ignition wires are often a good indicator, although they are easy enough to replace. Tires are also a common wear indicator, if you can get a complete history.

A trusted mechanic can probably give you an indication of how many miles are on a car right away. If that estimate is very different from the odometer the car is not quite what you thought. Even if it was not rolled back, it may be a sign that it had a very hard life.

Check the history

Before you buy any used car, it is absolutely critical that you check the history with either CarFax or AutoCheck. These sites will report any time that there was maintenance performed on the car by a certified mechanic, such as at a dealership.

The odometer should be logged each time the vehicle was serviced, so this will give you a complete record of not just the miles on it but how they were put on. If you see a number higher than what is currently on the vehicle’s odometer, you may be looking at a rollback.

Already purchased?

If you bought a car that may have been rolled back, or is starting to need repairs that suggest it has more miles on than reported, you should have a mechanic check it out with this in mind. It’s also good to pull the reports and study them carefully. Odometer rollback fraud is far more common than most people think.

If you discover that there is something not right, have a conversation with an experienced auto dealer fraud attorney about your situation. It may be worth your while to take action against the dealer who sold you the car which is not what they said it is.

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