Purchasing a used vehicle is like taking on a new romantic partner: each has a past and you want to know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge. Although a vehicle can’t lie like a person can about its history and what baggage it carries, it can be deceiving, thanks to trickery, also known as auto fraud, played by the person selling you the vehicle.

Turning Back the Hands of Time: Dishonest Odometer Readings

Most consumers don’t want to take on cars that have too many miles on them. However, car dealerships also don’t want to be stuck with vehicles they can’t sell, and some will turn to dishonest methods as a way to unload them. One way of doing that is rolling back the miles by tampering with the odometer. Determining whether the odometer reading is genuine can be tricky, but not impossible, when you know what you’re looking for:

  • Fingerprint smudging. Although not always a definitive sign of foul play, fingerprint smudging on the inside of the instrument cluster could be a sign someone was tampering with the odometer. Seeing these smudges should make you concerned about the validity of the reading.
  • Gouge marks. Marks or broken material around the instrument cluster is another sign of concern. It doesn’t always mean that odometer tampering occurred, but it does mean someone did something to the instrument cluster, and it’s important to know what. Ask the seller directly if the odometer has been tampered with if you detect any gouging.
  • Look at the vehicle warranty history report from the manufacturer obtained from an authorized dealer.  This important piece of documentation lets you know every time the vehicle in question was serviced in a repair shop. When this occurs, the technicians should write down the mileage. Compare this to the current odometer reading and see if the dates and mileage documented make sense. If they don’t, the odometer has probably been tampered with.
  • Get a copy of a CarFax report and an AutoCheck report.  The two reports often have different information since they use different databases.

Fight Back Against Auto Fraud

The Consumer Law Group wants to protect victims of auto fraud. If you believe you’ve been wronged, contact us today to learn about your rights.

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