When you set out to buy a used car, you hope to get the best possible value for your money. But what happens when the car you are interested in purchasing has hidden secrets? Specifically, what happens when the car’s true mileage isn’t quite what its odometer is indicating?
Unfortunately, odometer tampering is all too common. Also known as odometer rollback or odometer fraud, this practice involves tampering with the odometer to reflect a lower mileage than the car has actually run. Odometer fraud is done by disconnecting the odometer or resetting its reading.
So what are the signs of odometer fraud?
One of the most important checks you need to exercise when purchasing a used car is checking whether its odometer is clean. And there are free online tools that can help you establish this.
But just because there are no reports of odometer rollback doesn’t necessarily mean that the car is clean. Here are some of the signs of rollback you can look out for in an odometer:
Comparing the odometer mileage records with what is shown
Whenever a vehicle goes for an inspection or maintenance, the mechanic will always indicate the mileage at the time of the service. This reading should be consistent with the odometer reading.
Obtain and inspect the vehicle’s history report (VHR)
Also known as VIN, this report provides a detailed account of the vehicle’s history. This report provides insight into the car’s odometer settings as well as any tampering that might have been done on the vehicle’s odometer. From this report, you will also see the average mileage driven by the car’s previous owners.
Look out for physical signs of interference with the odometer – check out if the numbers are clearly readable or if there are any suspicious gaps between the numbers.
What do you do if you discover an odometer rollback?
Odometer rollback is a huge problem in the U.S. If you are a victim of odometer rollback, you need to report the matter so it is captured on the car’s records. Next, you need to pursue the responsible party for damages.