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How to Detect Odometer Fraud

By: StaffPublished September 28, 2021

According to a 2002 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate, more than 450,000 vehicles are sold in the US every year with false odometer readings. While the digital meters included in most modern vehicles were intended to combat odometer fraud, they turned out to be even easier to corrupt. So how can you be sure that the car of your dreams isn't the odometer scam of a lifetime?

One of the first things you can do to detect odometer fraud is to compare the status of various parts of the car. Are the tires worn? Does the interior look dated and lived-in? If the condition isn't consistent with the mileage, a red flag should go up in your mind. 

If you're suspicious of the mileage, you might be able to find some proof of fraud under the hood and on the odometer itself. First, check the positioning of the numbers and look for fingerprints on the glass cover. If you test drive, check to see that the numbers change as you go. Next, open the hood and look for service stickers. If the timing belt has been modified, it will tell you the date and mileage of the repair. If this doesn't line up with the current mileage, you could be looking at a corrupted odometer.

If you're suspicious of odometer fraud, it's important to be certain before you commit to purchasing. You can use a vehicle history report to find some insight into the real mileage and condition of the vehicle, but it will not be a guarantee. The best way to verify the mileage of a car is to have it inspected by a professional, trustworthy mechanic.

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