Odometer Fraud. Tips to Avoid It.

Odometer fraud is the practice of rolling back odometers to make it appear that vehicles have lower mileage than they actually do. Odometer tampering is not only illegal, but expensive. Because the buyer thinks the car has fewer miles, he/she pays more for the car – and more in insurance and repairs.

Things You’ll Need:

•    Compare the current mileage on the odometer with mileage shown on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records.

•    Check the tires. The car’s original tires should last for some 60,000 miles, so new tires on a car with low mileage should alert you to take a closer look.

•    Look for things that indicate the mileage of the car. Oil change reminder stickers, service receipts and warranty cards will usually have the mileage noted.

•    Have a reputable mechanic inspect the car. The mechanic should look for signs of wear on the engine, suspension and steering, as well as problems with the emissions system. These areas will show signs of high mileage.

•    Be especially alert when buying certain models. Popular models for odometer rollback include sport utility vehicles, Chevy Luminas, Ford Tauruses and Chrysler minivans.

•    Ask the DMV for the car’s title history and its previous owner’s name. You need to provide the DMV with the VIN (vehicle identification number). Reconsider buying this particular car if the title shows it was sold several times in a short period.

•    Be wary of retired, low-mileage fleet vehicles. Dishonest buyers will clean the car up, put on a new brake pedal cover, roll back the odometer and resell it for a tidy profit.