When we want to know the mileage of a vehicle, we obviously rely on what the odometer tells us and then we trust that information, especially when we are looking to buy a used car. But, what if unscrupulous individuals tamper with an odometer and make it look like a younger car with fewer miles? It used to be commonplace back in the 1960s and 1970s, when shady people could easily alter odometer readings, but today it’s a little more difficult to do.
But even then, it still happens every single day all over the world. At Leehigh Autobody And Service Center in Dulles, VA, we don’t want you to fall prey to odometer fraud. It’s a national epidemic and getting worse, so please read this information and avoid being a victim to these unethical and highly illegal practices.
What Exactly is Odometer Fraud?
Odometer fraud, also referred to as "busting miles" is the illegal practice of rolling back odometers to make it appear that vehicles have lower mileage than they actually do. Odometer fraud occurs when the seller of a vehicle falsely represents the actual mileage of a vehicle to the buyer.
According to the Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation at the US Department of Transportation, odometer fraud is a serious crime and something every driver should be aware of. In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2002 odometer fraud study, they determined that 450,000 vehicles were sold each year with false odometer readings, resulting in a cost of over $1 billion annually to car buyers in the United States. Thousands of people are driving cars right now with odometers that were manipulated and they won’t ever know.
According to the NHTSA, common examples of odometer fraud include situations where someone tampers with the odometer by rolling it back or replacing the odometer and failing to provide the required notice on the vehicle. According to AIM Mobile Inspections, an evaluator of new and used vehicles, the incidence of odometer rollback for the purpose of misrepresenting the mileage of off-lease used vehicles had increased by 30 percent since the beginning of 2011. The cheaters have become more sophisticated and the organizations chasing them can’t keep up!
Contrary to popular belief, suspending a (modern) running vehicle and running it in reverse will not reduce the odometer count. Late-model used vehicles that are leased and rental fleets that accumulate mileage quickly are generally believed to be more susceptible to odometer fraud than newer vehicles.
How Can Consumers Be Protected?
There are a number of ways in which a vehicle buyer can use to establish the existence of possible odometer fraud. In the US, states require vehicle purchasers to obtain a title or certificate of registration due to federal laws. These titles contain information about a vehicle's odometer history. The information can be accessed through each state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Other alternatives to detect odometer fraud include contacting the vehicle's former owners, performing a mechanical inspection of the vehicle with special attention to normal but harmless wear and tear such as to floor-mats and the rubber on pedals (or to suspiciously new such items), and checking the vehicle's history report.
Modern cars often employ digital odometers specially designed to be unalterable. These odometers are considered to be more secure than mechanical odometers, due to the greater amount of technical knowledge required to manipulate them. Recently however, dishonest high-tech types have also figured out a way to alter even these newer digital odometers.
Think, Observe and Be Wary
Don’t be a victim of an odometer that isn’t giving you an accurate report. Do your research and be wary and you’ll get a vehicle with an honest odometer, thereby allowing you to get a car that truly has the accurate mileage listed. At Leehigh Autobody And Service Center, we love fixing cars and that’s why we want you to have yours for many years to come