Fight Odometer Roll-back Scams: What You Need to Do When Buying a Used Car

When you buy a used car with 65,000 miles on it, make sure that you are indeed buying a car with 65,000 miles odometer reading, not 85,000 miles.

The Department of Justice has some tips to help you identify odometer roll-back scams.

  1. Look for loose screws or scratch marks around the dashboard. (Also look for fingerprints on the inside of the instrument panel's clear cover, advises Sanchez of Kelley Blue Book.)
  2. If the vehicle has an analog odometer, as opposed to newer digital readouts, check that the numbers are lined up straight. Pay special attention the 10,0000 digit.
  3. When test driving the car, notice if the speedometer sticks.
  4. Look for service stickers inside the door or under the hood that may give the actual mileage.
  5. Look in the owner's manual to see if there is a maintenance record there. Or see if pages that may have contained a maintenance record have been removed.
  6. If you are buying the car from a dealer, ask if a computer check has been done to look for warranty records.
  7. Ask to see the official title document. Look at it carefully to see if the mileage on the document has been altered.
  8. Look at the date the title was issued. Be suspicious if the vehicle is being sold shortly after the title was issued. A new title could have been issued simply to hide a mileage alteration.
  9. Look for signs of wear in "high touch" areas like the steering wheel, arm rests and pedals. Also, if any of these items looks brand new, as if it had been recently replaced, that may indicate an attempt to hide the vehicle's real age.
  10. Have a mechanic of your choosing inspect the vehicle. As part of that inspection, he should look for signs of tampering.

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One Response to “Fight Odometer Roll-back Scams: What You Need to Do When Buying a Used Car”

  1. paigu |  Nov 08, 2006 at 8:02 am

    Thanks for commenting on little site. I think only another Chinese-speaker would know the meaning behind my title. Nice to meet you, there’s lots of Chinese in Central NJ, I’m starting to realize.
    Regarding your article: I’ve heard about this but never thought it could actually be done. Wouldn’t the odometer become broken if manipulated?
    Your finance blog is very helpful and I will definitely spend some time reading through.