What Are The Signs Of Car Odometer Rollback Fraud?

Many drivers who used and are looking to buy a car think that the larger the number of kilometers, the more the car drives, and vice versa. Understanding that mentality, some scammers deliberately roll back the odometer, deceive car buyers and sell at a higher price. To not become a victim of odometer rollback fraud, it’s necessary to equip yourself with the knowledge about the signs when the odometer rolled over. Below, we list some noticeable signs so you can avoid being taken advantage of.

What Is An Odometer Rollback?

A car odometer is a useful measuring device on a vehicle. Indicators such as speed, mileage, oil temperature, gas meter, and oil pressure… are displayed on this meter to help the driver be more active in the process of driving the car.

Most drivers believe that looking at the numbers displayed on the odometer is to know how many kilometers the car has traveled, but few consider the possibility that the odometer has been rolled back. Odometer rollback! What is it? Odometer fraud is the situation in which scammers purposefully lower hundreds, even thousands of kilometers from the displayed number on the odometer or makes the odometer reading change. 

This metric is an important piece of data for potential car buyers, and unfortunately reversing the odometer is a trick people have been using for decades. Previously, the fraud odometer was done manually. But in modern technology, with the digital odometer, the rollback is done by removing the circuit boards to change or using the rewind device attached right to the electronic circuit of the vehicle.

>> Related post: Does A New Engine Reset The Odometer? Finding The Truth

rolled over odometer
How do you know when scammers rolled over the odometer? (Photo: pinterest.com)

6 Proofs To Tell You About The Odometer Fraud.

Odometer rollback usually happens when drivers decide to buy a used car because the mileage traveled by car is the factor to determine the value of the car. So if you are planning to hunt for a used car or even a new car, don’t ignore the 5 following signs to avoid these fake odometers:

Detect signs of odometer tampering

This is also a very important way to check if the odometer is frauded. You need to notice the numbers printed on the odometer to see whether it is misaligned or crooked. Check for any noticeable gaps in the numbers to unnecessary lengths. 

The second warning sign you should not miss is the fingerprint smudge. While not always a sure sign of tampering, smudged fingerprints on the inside of the car odometer could be a sign to tell you that someone is deliberately scamming you. 

Damaged markings or materials around the odometer are a mounting concern. Odometer tampering doesn’t always happen, but at least it also lets you know that someone did something to the odometer. In this situation, you can ask the dealers directly if the odometer has been faked or any chisels.

Inspect the documentation of the vehicle

When buying a used car, many experts recommend checking through the documentation to get information about the parameters: year of manufacture, registration (for the first time and subsequent times for vehicles that have changed owners), and the number of times the vehicle owner was changed. The year of first registration is the time when the car starts rolling, from which it is possible to calculate the average number of miles corresponding to the years the car traveled.

On average, your car drives about 15,000 – 20,000 km a year with popular cars and under normal conditions of use. With luxury cars, and sports cars this figure may be lower. Therefore, for vehicles that have been used for 3 years or more, it is not possible to have miles of 20,000 – 25,000 km, if possible, it will be very rare. 

Check the vehicle history report (VIN)

What does a VIN report tell you?  A vehicle history report gives you a range of information on a car you are going to buy: odometer readings, ownership history, title status, and more. To get a report on the vehicle you want to buy. You will normally need a 17-digit vehicle identification number or VIN. The VIN can be found on the driver’s side panel near the windshield. Through the VHR report, you will know faulty odometer settings and if any tampering has been performed on the odometer. It will also show the average miles driven for each previous owner.

Check the condition of the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

Car Interior: The surface of the seat (especially the driver’s seat) if the car has low mileage, there will not be many wrinkles and the elasticity is still good, the wear of the steering wheel, the buttons, the handles of the doors… more. On the contrary, these details will be more likely to appear wear and tear, discoloration, and scratches. 

The exterior of the car: Scratches around the body of the car, the door rubber gasket is still firm or broken, is the hood border failed or still tight? Check for the color difference, the new paint covers any scratches or not.

>> Read more: How to Dry Out Car Interior in 4 Steps

Car parts wear and tear

Car manufacturing technology is improving day by day. The quality is getting higher and higher and this is difficult for checking if the odometer is rolled back or not. However, the odometer parameters will also come with the wear of car parts, and car buyers can completely give the decision based on these signs:

  • Tires are one of those spare parts that accurately reflect the condition of your vehicle. Tire wear and tread depth can help you value your vehicle’s usage. On average, a pair of tires has a lifespan of about 5 years. An odometer displays 25000 miles that must still have the original tire and a tread depth of 2/32 inches. You can use Abraham Lincoln’s coin to check the depth.
  • Check undercarriage: This is an area that few people care about. While this is the place where the condition of the car shows clearly. Vehicles that have been used a lot will have signs of rust, and many dents due to rocks or when going up and down the curb. In addition, the area under the car is also a place to know if the car has had a serious collision or serious accident.
  • Inspect the accelerator, brake pedal, and gear lever: When the car uses a lot, the brake system will show signs of wear and tear quite clearly. If the wear exceeds the number of miles displayed on the vehicle. The drivers should question whether the vehicle has been adjusted to the car odometer. If the pedal is in too new condition, it may also have been replaced.

Test the car 

odometer rolled over meaning
Odometer rolled over meaning that scammers purposefully make the odometer reading change. (Photo: autofacil.es)

After you have finished one of the ways is to check whether the odometer is rolled over. You should also test-drive the car before deciding to buy it. The action helps you know the feeling of driving, and detect noises and vibrations from worn-out parts after previous use. One way to check old cars is applied by experienced mechanics is to drive the car on steep slopes, and bumpy roads… At the same time, turn on the air conditioner at maximum capacity. This way will help you easily detect errors in the engine system and chassis

After checking some of the above details for yourself and still not completely assured. You can take the car to reputable garages or to genuine centers. While it will cost extra, it is the most reliable way to check the overall condition of your vehicle before you make a decision. It’s better to have a mechanic inspect your car. As they can immediately tell you whether specific parts of the car are tampered with or have more wear than usual.

What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Mileage Rollback?

Odometer rollback is an important factor for you to decide whether to buy that car or not. Of course, buyers want a reliable car to be a partner with for a long time. Knowing how many miles a car has driven is a good indicator of how long it will last. In addition, the value of a used car is greatly influenced by the distance it has traveled. Buying a car with an odometer rolled over means you’re paying more for its true value.

Our data suggest that there are one and a half million vehicles out there with an odometer rollback. And it’s costing people thousands of dollars. Because our decision to buy a car is always based on the low mileage. The mileage is a huge factor in the car’s price. For example, when you roll the miles back 50000 miles, you’re artificially inflating the car. What should we do and how to prevent ourselves from falling prey to this scam? 

What should we do If scammers rolled over the odometer?

If an odometer rollback happens to you, you should definitely report the incident. This is a good way for you and future buyers to be not trapped in this scam by knowing the record of the vehicle. It’s not only a good action to help you get justice. But also the seller or dealers who did this fraud will be held responsible for their illegal actions. Do many drivers wonder Who do I report odometer fraud? Depending on the country and state, we will have agencies that deal with complaints about odometer rollback:

  • You can contact local law enforcement. They will investigate the issue and take appropriate action and guide you to the next step.
  • You can also report suspected odometer fraud to the state consumer protection agency or NHTSA organization. They will help you file a lawsuit.

How to protect yourself from tampered odometers?

To prevent this scam from happening, we recommend you buy a car from a trusted agency or seller. You need to be aware of the potential for dominant fraud, something that occurs more often with unlicensed dealers or private sellers. They will help you ensure the quality and origin of the vehicle. If you are considering a new car or used car. Be sure to have all the necessary paperwork before buying. It will help you limit any issues when driving the car. 

Closing thoughts

Cheating on the odometer leads to many problems with the unfortunate new owner. Not only do you have to pay more than the value of the car. But you will cost the maintenance and care measures. Probably, you don’t know that the age of a car is not measured in years but in the number of miles, it has traveled. We hope that through this article you will have the necessary knowledge to not become a victim of these scams.