Odometer Fraud is On the Rise: How to Protect Yourself When Buying a Used Car
When you go to buy a new car, the next thing you look at after the price is usually the mileage because a vehicle with fewer miles reported on the odometer is generally in better shape than those with higher mileage. This stands to reason, but, unfortunately, you can’t be satisfied with the initial mileage report from the seller due to Odometer Fraud.
The Rollback Con
Odometer fraud is where a car seller purposefully rolls back the odometer to read out lower mileage. The seller does this to falsely claim that the car is in better condition than it is in reality, allowing them to inflate the value of the car and con gullible buyers into spending more money on the car. As a result, consumers are at risk for costly repairs and maintenance, and the safety of other motorists and passengers is put in jeopardy.
Even in 2019, odometer fraud is still being committed. Even more disturbing is that this crime is on the rise and digital odometers are making it even easier to commit than when they were analog. According to CarFax, approximately 1.6 million cars in the U.S. are currently on the road with a rolled-back odometer, and that number keeps climbing.
How It Happens
With analog odometers, criminals are able to remove the gauge cluster and unscrew a couple of screws, gingerly bend back a few pins, and carefully spin the mileage numbers back to portray a more desirable reading. With digital odometers, a new memory chip could replace the original chip, odometers can get “zeroed” out by maxing out the mileage via electronic hacking, or replacing the entire instrument panel assembly with a new or junked one. Unfortunately, it is more difficult to find evidence of odometer fraud in newer models because, in many cases, the rollback happened digitally, leaving fewer physical marks. Additionally, it becomes nearly impossible to tell when the rollback took place and who is the guilty party.
The information above is provided so you know what to look for if you suspect odometer fraud. It is a criminal offence to tamper with the odometer of any car you wish to sell, but remaining ignorant about how these things happen puts you at risk of becoming a victim.
What You Can Do to Avoid Becoming a Victim
This crime can put an undue financial burden on a consumer and can also put lives at risk. It is a frightening prospect to fall victim to odometer fraud, which is why we at AutohausAZ, the leading online retailer of Audi auto parts, has done the research and compiled a short list of actions you can take to protect yourself from the rollback con:
- Pony up for a CarFax or AutoCheck history report. It will be worth it in the end!
- Get the VIN Number from the seller and look it up.
- Consult a trusted mechanic prior to purchasing the vehicle.
- Look for recently replaced hoses, batteries, fan belts, clamps, and AC belts - if you see some or all of these new parts and your car has low mileage, it could be a sign the seller tampered with the odometer.
- Research the vehicle and see if a leasing company formerly owned it. Most of these cars are late model vehicles with high mileage making them frequent targets of odometer fraud.
Our final piece of advice is to trust your gut. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s an old saying, but very relevant when buying a used car.
Odometer fraud is no joke, and driving a used car with high mileage is a hazard to yourself, your wallet, and everyone else out on the road. Be careful when buying a used car, and, if you ever need discount luxury auto parts, be sure to check out AutohausAZ’s inventory of Porsche auto parts online.