Verifying vehicle mileage is a catalyst to avoiding fraud
Vehicle fraud is not just catalytic converter theft, it can also include odometer fraud. While this type of fraud is not easily detected, there are useful tips to help identify odometer tampering when purchasing a used vehicle.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) odometer fraud is defined as the disconnection, resetting or alteration of a motor vehicle’s odometer with the intent to change the number of miles indicated. It is estimated that 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings, a crime that costs American car buyers $1 billion annually.
The NHTSA offers up these tips to detect odometer fraud:
- ASK to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Be sure to examine the title closely if the mileage notation seems obscured or is not easy to read.
- COMPARE the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. Also, search for oil change and maintenance stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box or under the hood.
- CHECK that the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned correctly. If they’re crooked, contain gaps or jiggle when you bang on the dash with your hand, walk away from the purchase.
- EXAMINE the tires. If the odometer on your car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires. LOOK at the wear and tear on the vehicle — especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals — to be sure it seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
- REQUEST a vehicle history report from a service, such as CARFAX, to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN to order a vehicle history report online.
- VISIT www.nhtsa.gov to learn more information about odometer fraud.
Additionally, the NHTSA has identified that laws and regulations have passed at the federal level aimed at mitigating odometer fraud. The law requires written disclosure of the mileage registered on an odometer be provided by the seller to the purchaser on the title to the vehicle when the ownership of a vehicle is transferred. If the odometer mileage is incorrect, the law requires a statement to that effect to be furnished on the title to the buyer. However, vehicles ten years and older are exempt from the written disclosure requirements.
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