Car Odometer Fraud Exposed


Many think odometer scams are a thing of the past, but a recent Philadelphia Action News Investigation exposes how easy it is for just about anyone to change the miles on a vehicle’s odometer.

Odometer fraud is a process of rolling back miles on car so that it will be more marketable. Generally, people are intrigued and likely to purchase cars with fewer miles. But, after the purchase the buyer finds they bought a piece of junk. The buyer will start to experience major issues with the car mechanics due to the car engine. The majority of rollbacks are at least 50,000 miles, and most affected cars have over 100,000 miles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates consumers will lose billions of dollars to odometer fraud this year. Despite efforts to combat odometer fraud – including tougher laws and increased enforcement, like certain states’ odometer disclosure statement laws – consumers are increasingly at risk to this age-old scam. Digital odometers, which were thought to be less susceptible to tampering, can be even easier to manipulate for a fraudulent odometer reading.

The Federal Truth in Mileage Act (TIMA) requires sellers to provide actual, truthful odometer readings and to disclose any known inaccuracies. Under this Act, odometer fraud is a felony. Anybody caught failing to disclose that an odometer has been changed, repaired, or altered in any way, and/or falsifying mileage documentation will receive fines and/or imprisonment.

Carfax provides some tips on detecting odometer fraud since it can be very difficult, but not impossible, to detect when a vehicle’s odometer has been altered

  • Request the vehicle’s title and compare the mileage listed on the title with the vehicle’s odometer.  Make sure the mileage is consistent and has not been altered in any fashion.

  • Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. You may also want to examine the mileage listed on oil-change and maintenance stickers. You may find these stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box, or under the hood.

  • Check the alignment of the numbers on the odometer gauge if the vehicle has a traditional mechanical odometer. Make sure the gauge numbers are not crooked, contain gaps, or jiggle when you hit the dash with your hand.

  • Examine the tires. If the odometer reads 20,000 or fewer miles, the vehicle should have the original tires.

  • Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle – especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals – to see if the wear seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.

Odometer fraud is a huge national issue. Research shows that over 1 million cars are on the road nationwide with odometer rollback, and 40,000 in the Philadelphia area. Before you buy a used car, make sure you do your research. Review the car’s history either with the seller or a reputable third party. Also, do a test drive and have a mechanic look at the car.

And if you have been the victim of odometer fraud, please contact our attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC today. We can help you recover the compensation you need.

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