Odometer fraud is a federal crime that costs consumers over $1 billion annually. When a car dealership sells a car with odometer tampering, consumers can file a lawsuit against them for violating the federal civil law.
Learning how to detect odometer rollback can help you figure out if you can sue the car dealership for selling you a car with odometer tampering. It can also come in handy the next time you are looking to purchase a car.
What Is Odometer Fraud?
Odometer fraud, commonly known as odometer rollback, occurs when a vehicle’s odometer is changed or altered to make it appear to have a lower than the actual total mileage. Here in the United States, committing odometer fraud is a federal offense.
Some examples of odometer fraud include:
- Disconnecting the odometer
- Resetting the odometer
- Altering the odometer reading
Dealerships tamper with the odometer readings in an attempt to make the car seem more valuable than it is actually worth. This means that consumers end up paying thousands of dollars more than the vehicle’s actual worth.
Odometer Fraud and the Law
When a vehicle is sold or a title is transferred, the law requires written documentation of the total mileage as recorded on the odometer. If the odometer reading is shown incorrect, the seller is required to inform the buyer by providing a written statement of the fact on the title.
Car dealers often commit odometer fraud in order to make the vehicle appear to be in better condition than it actually is to trick consumers into purchasing them. They usually commit odometer fraud with other auto fraud such as:
- Reconditioning the external appearance of the vehicle,
- Changing title paperwork to hide actual mileage reported at the time of sale,
- Various title frauds including:
- Altering the title
- Forging the title
- Replacing the title document
- Obtaining duplicate certificates from state DMVs
- Entering a false, lower mileage
How to Detect Odometer Fraud To Avoid Making Bad Purchases
Knowing how to detect odometer fraud will help consumers avoid purchasing vehicles that have hidden defects or are otherwise in worse shape than it looks. In order to prevent odometer fraud, it will help to conduct a thorough investigation of the vehicle’s history.
Here are some steps that will help prevent odometer fraud.
Comparing Actual Mileage on Odometer
There are two odometer mileage records you should compare with the actual mileage on the odometer: vehicle maintenance records and inspection records.
You can check the vehicle maintenance record in the CARFAX Vehicle History Report. In the Report, you will be able to see all the history of the vehicle’s maintenance records. The mileage of the vehicle should show up in the report, which you can add up the total to compare it with the mileage shown on the odometer.
Another comparison you should make is with your inspection records.
Get A Vehicle History Report
A vehicle history report (VHR), also known as a VIN check, is a detailed document that will provide you with vehicle information about the history of your car. You will need to know your vehicle identification number (VIN) in order to obtain a vehicle history report.
A VHR will tell you a number of information about your vehicle’s history, including faulty odometer settings. If any illegal acts were performed on your car’s odometer, it will be shown there. You will also be able to see the average mileage for each person who has owned the car.
Physically Check the Odometer for Any Signs of Tampering
You can see if the odometer has been tampered with by inspecting it. When doing so, make sure that:
- All the numbers are easily readable
- There are no gaps between the numbers
- The numbers are NOT crooked
If any of the above applies to your vehicle’s odometer, there is a high possibility that you have been a victim of odometer tampering.
Options for Odometer Rollback Victims
Victims of an odometer rollback have some options they can take to rectify their situation. You can contact your local law enforcement agency, and they will be able to provide assistance. Another option is to reach out to attorneys who deal with odometer fraud cases.
If you believe that your vehicle’s odometer has been tampered with, feel free to call Consumer Action Law Group to see if what your next steps are, whether they be to call local law enforcement or to pursue a lawsuit.