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How to Check Odometer Fraud & What to Do Next | 2024 Guide

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How to Check Odometer Fraud & What to Do Next | 2024 Guide

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Odometer Fraud Check

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People tend to overlook how often odometers are tampered with in the used car market. But here’s the number from NHTSA: approximately 452,000 cases of odometer fraud happen annually in the US. And it’s increasing.

In this post, I’ve combed through the newest figures and policies for odometer fraud as well as the available resources to deal with the problem. Let’s dig deep and see what odometer fraud means, how you could spot it, and if you’re unfortunately taken in, what you should do.

What Is Odometer Fraud?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), odometer fraud refers to actions to change or stop the reading of miles for a car. This could include someone sabotaging the speedometer’s connection to the control units to stop it from counting. Or people could have the odometer reading reset and altered. Or sometimes they just replace the device with a new one but don’t complete the installation or calibration.

Among all these methods, alteration and resetting are the epicenter of odometer fraud cases in the second-hand market. And they are really covert.

However, there’s also a subtle situation where you don’t count mileage discrepancy as odometer fraud. That is when the insurance company or a third party authority approves that there’s a need to repair or calibrate the odometer. In that case, the seller or the dealership has an obligation to inform the buyer about the adjustment. They also have to show you the official inspection and maintenance records about it.

Why Are Odometer Rollbacks Common?

Because there’s a huge profit to be made out of it. As we all know, a used car’s worth is tightly associated with its mileage. Except for severe accidents that could leave branded titles on a vehicle, how many miles a car has run ultimately indicates how worn it has become, and thus indicates the pricing.

Rolling back the odometer and then selling the car at a higher price, the profit margin for this illegal industry altogether reaches $1.06 million per year in the US.

How to Check Odometer Fraud?

I’ll present the methods in an order where the handy ones come in first. They’re all efficient ways that I tested myself or that are recommended by related government agencies like NHTSA.

Now let’s think about it: what should we be looking for? To come to the conclusion that there’s an odometer fraud case, either you find an “odometer discrepancy” brand on the car title, or you witness a contradiction in the mileage records from the history odometer checks. Alternatively, as mileage is closely associated with depreciation and market worth, you could cross-reference the data and see if the calculated figure differs too much from the real reading.

1. Check via Vehicle Search Tools

I know it’s hard to collect data of so many kinds and from so many parties, let alone when you’re probably requiring it for a vehicle you don’t yet own. So the simplest way to get as many records as possible is to use an authorized third party platform.

BeenVerified and EpicVIN are two vehicle search tools of this kind. They have official access to the mileage related records at NMVTIS, NHTSA, insurance companies and other authorities in the industry. Everything available from these databases would show up in their vehicle reports.

buffBeenVerifiedEpicVIN
Mileage history
Shown in chart
Odometer fraud related title check
8 Points

10 Points
Mileage estimation
Report interactivity
Unlimited search times
TrialCHECK NOWCHECK NOW

Vehicle Search Steps

I’ll take BeenVerified as an example for you to see how to check odometer fraud with a vehicle search report.

1. Visit BeenVerified Vehicle Search.

2. Enter the VIN number or the license plate number and click SEARCH.

3. BeenVerified will generate a full report in seconds if the vehicle you’re searching is registered in their databases. You would witness the last mileage record in the summary part at the very beginning.

4. Use the side bar to navigate to details about the car’s mileage history. Under Detailed History, Sale Listings, and Maintenance you could see the historical records on the car’s mileage. Mileage discrepancy would be easy to locate through cross-referencing and a chronological comparison.

5. In Ownership History you get to see the authentic mileage records from title checks. The latest mileage record can’t be lower than the figure from the current title.

6. Besides, in Ownership Cost and Vehicle Specs you would see data that’s useful for evaluating the car’s mileage. If the recorded miles differ too much from the evaluation, you should also raise an alarm.

2. Check via DMV

Each state has its own Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that regulates the vehicle licensing and driver registration. It sets up a file for every vehicle. And there you can find all reported history events of a car. Therefore, to look up the car’s accurate mileage record and past odometer problems, DMV vehicle history report could be a reliable choice.

But you need to know that the rules for getting a vehicle report from DMV differ from state to state. Some allow only the car owner to apply for the report. And most of the time you need to pay a little fee, ranging from $2 to $20 depending on the service you require.

Take California DMV for example and here’s the regular process of an online application:

  1. Go to the online platform for vehicle record requests.
  2. Click Start vehicle record request and establish your account.
  3. Fill in the required information such as your identity and the VIN number of the vehicle you’re checking.
  4. Pay the fee and print the automated report for only one chance.

If you want an official paperwork from California DMV, you need to submit the request through mail or in person:

  1. Visit the location search portal of California DMV and find the office near you.
  2. Fill in the request form INF 70 if you’re requesting a copy of another person’s vehicle report.
  3. Print it and mail it or bring it to the local office with other documents required in the form.

3. Check via Independent Inspection

If you’ve decided on which car to purchase, you may ask the dealer or the individual seller for a chance to test the car before payment. Now, no history records are more reliable than an inspection on the spot. You could do this inspection for odometer fraud yourself, or you may choose to purchase a professional service.

Here’s what you should do to check odometer fraud on your own:

buffDigital OdometerAnalog Odometer
PrincipleComputer codes and sensors: Alteration more complex and hiddenMechanical transmission: Alteration easier and physical
Checklist OBD2 scanner: check the mileage data in the ECU
New / Changed gauge: without record in the history report
Mileage under 20,000 with changed tires
Check oil change date for mileage estimation: older cars, shorter oil change duration
OBD2 scanner: check the mileage data in the ECU
Number display: not aligned, crooked, gaps
New / Changed gauge: without record in the history report
Mileage under 20,000 with changed tires
Check oil change date for mileage estimation: older cars, shorter oil change duration

If you want a technician to help you go through a deeper and more comprehensive inspection, you may contact a local mechanic that you trust for that service. I suggest you choosing an inspection agency that your insurance company approves, so that this inspection would count as a qualified prerequisite for future claims. A usual inspection service may cost you $20 to $200.

What to Do When Encountering Odometer Fraud?

The first thing you should do when facing an odometer fraud case is to report that case to your local enforcement agency as soon as possible. Make sure to keep the proof well, for example your transaction record, documents from the dealership, official DMV report and so on. Different states have different agencies to deal with local odometer fraud, and you may find accurate contact information here on NHTSA. You don’t have to have paid for that car to claim the odometer fraud.

But if you have owned a lemon car with odometer fraud, remember to contact your insurance company after reporting the case to a government agency.


That’s all for you to know how you can deal with an odometer fraud case. With the tricks and resources listed above, I hope you’ve found your dream car with a perfect mileage gauge. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have further questions or better ideas.

References

  1. NHTSA, Odometer Fraud: https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/odometer-fraud.
  2. NHTSA, State Enforcement Agencies for Odometer Fraud: https://www.nhtsa.gov/odometer-fraud/state-enforcement-agencies-odometer-fraud.
  3. Car And Driver, Car Inspections for Insurance: Everything You Need to Know: https://www.caranddriver.com/car-insurance/a36421375/car-inspection-for-insurance/.
  4. Auto Deal, Analog vs Digital gauges – Is new always better: https://www.autodeal.com.ph/articles/car-features/analog-vs-digital-gauges-new-always-better.
exclamation-blueThere’s no guarantee you’ll find the information you’re looking for with the tools discussed in this article. They all source their information from publicly available data sources, such as county, state and federal courts, government departments, and police records, and those sources may contain incorrect or incomplete data. It’s illegal to use these tools to make decisions about employment, admission, consumer credit, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. Read the Fair Credit Reporting Act to learn more....

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Chantel Huang

English Technical Writer

As one of Super Easy’s English writers, Chantel likes to bring her life philosophy to the page. For her, life is all about exploring and sharing. And what reflects that attitude is her rich and vast life experiences and skills which bring great value to our readers.

She's experienced in social media publishing and traveling. She’s in her twenties and has set her foot in 20+ countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. And she scheduled most of the tours all on her own, gaining lots of life-hacks as well as great abilities in internet research, information collection and shortcut solutions seeking. She manages a podcast and a video channel herself, earning over 10,000 views and 200+ followers in just one month. Her keen sense in entertainment and mature skills and knowledge in electronics and editing apps keeps producing quality content for our readers.

Besides, she's got a profound understanding in language learning and psychology. Over 100 hours of crisis intervention experiences and 4 years of academic training in linguistics making her a trusted solution provider in language education and mental care.

With her genuine heart she keeps sharing inspiring thoughts and useful tips out of her explorations, bringing growth to her own life as well as to our readers.

About this article

round-success 236 Revisions

file-success Reviewed by BeenVerified

Chantel Huang

English Technical Writer

As one of Super Easy’s English writers, Chantel likes to bring her life philosophy to the page. For her, life is all about exploring and sharing. And what reflects that attitude is her rich and vast life experiences and skills which bring great value to our readers. She's experienced in social media publishing and traveling. She’s in her twenties and has set her foot in 20+ countries across Europe, Asia and Af [...]

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