What´s meant Odometer Fraud?
Odometer Fraud: It costs consumers $4 billion each year
Some people call it odometer rollback. Others call it clocking or mileage tampering. Whatever the most popular term might be, it has another name: fraud.
Rolling back the mileage on a vehicle so it appears to have been driven fewer miles is a classic - and illegal - way to cheat car buyers. People buy cars assuming the mileage displayed is correct. But if their odometer's been tampered with, they end up needing unexpected repairs, and somewhere along the line they may discover they lost some money when they bought the car.
A former used car dealer from Lubbock was sentenced to 13 months in prison July 11 and fined $10,000 for conspiracy to commit odometer tampering. But others, primarily individuals altering the readings on their own vehicles' odometers, are never discovered.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that across the country, consumers lose $4 billion every year to odometer fraud.
Method to prevent odometer fraud
A system and method to prevent odometer fraud in a vehicle are described, including determining whether the vehicle is driven for a predetermined period of time, such as an hour, and checking whether input to the odometer is consistent with such determination. For example, if an insufficient number of vehicle speed pulses have been received during the period of time that the vehicle has been driven, then it can be concluded that the vehicle speed pulse input has been removed from the odometer and various fraud prevention actions can be taken, such as changing the odometer display to output "ERROR" or disabling the odometer from working, even after the vehicle speed pulse input is reconnected to the odometer.
How to avoid Odometer Fraud
It happens all the time, from a car owner looking for more cash to dealership workers getting greedy. A car’s odometer can tell you how many miles it has been used for, whether the car was idle or moving. The more miles on a vehicle, the lower the value. You just can’t get much money for a car that has 150,000 miles on it. It’s too old, and too used. However, if the seller tweaks the odometer reading to about 75,000 miles the value of that vehicle just went up to maybe double the original value. This action is of course, illegal. Unfortunately, when you are purchasing a used vehicle, you might not even notice the difference.
To know what to look for when avoiding odometer fraud, we must first know how these criminals commit it. I don’t want this to happen to you. Your hard earned cash should be invested in a dependable vehicle, and the seller should be honest. Odometer fraud can ruin your dependability on your vehicle.
How Odometer Fraud Can Happen –
1. Someone will buy a vehicle, and disconnect the speedometer, which is under the hood. The speedometer tracks how many miles the vehicle is used and sends that reading to the odometer you see on the dashboard. If the owner disconnects it, there will be no reading, no tracking. Therefore, when they reconnect the speedometer, the odometer on the dash will read a much lower mileage than what should be there.
2. Now, if the fraud wasn’t thought of until the owner was ready to sell it, they need to find another option. Unfortunately, that’s pretty simple. The fraudulent car owner will replace the original speedometer with one from another car. That can easily be done at a junkyard. All they have to do is find a car with fewer miles on it, and replace their speedometer with the “new” one. It’s odometer fraud from a junkyard.
It can be quite difficult to figure out whether or not the car you are looking to buy has been mishandled. Ask to take the car for a test drive. Look at the mileage on the vehicle from the odometer reading. If you know cars pretty well, then you could probably tell if the car is too used or too old to have that little amount of miles on it. You could also (if the owner doesn’t come with you), visit a friend or your mechanic. Ask them to check the speedometer and see what they think.
Open the hood, and locate the speedometer. Does it look like the speedometer belongs on that particular vehicle? Ask the seller some questions about the mileage on the car if you are suspicious, and carefully watch their reactions while listening to their answers. If they are looking like they are lying, they probably are. If they committed odometer fraud, the seller might get nervous or uncomfortable with your questions. They will try to hide it, but look for signs of lying, such as fidgeting, itching, and talking too much or too little.
Odometer Fraud - General Information
Odometer fraud is a major problem in the United States. Odometer fraud occurs when illegal changes are made to the mileage shown on a used vehicle's title and odometer. This is usually done to mask high mileage on late-model used cars. Odometer fraud is a serious threat to used-car buyers that can cost thousands of dollars and lead to frustrating breakdowns and repairs, according to AAA.
Each year approximately 3 million used cars have their odometers rolled back an average of 30,000 miles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, odometer fraud throughout the country results in consumer losses of approximately four billion dollars annually.
A news release from AAA said the difference in the value of a vehicle with 30,000 miles and 70,000 miles is approximately $3,600. When increased finance, insurance and repair costs are added, the loss to a consumer who purchases a vehicle with an altered odometer can be more than $4,000.
Millions of vehicles receive new titles each year as they are sold at auction to wholesalers and dealers.
Unscrupulous operators often commit fraud by recording lower mileage on the new title application, changing the odometer reading and cleaning the vehicle so its appearance matches the lower mileage reading. In many cases, the dealer selling the vehicle to the consumer may not be aware the odometer was altered by a wholesaler or at the auction.
To spot possible fraud, AAA urges motorists to have a thorough vehicle inspection performed by a qualified technician. An inspection can spot telltale signs of excessive mileage such as engine wear, emissions problems and suspension and steering component wear. Also, since original tires usually last up to 60,000 miles, new tires on a vehicle with an odometer showing 30,000 miles are a good reason to be wary.
Tips to Watch For
• Visually inspect the car to see if its condition matches the miles shown on the odometer. Check to see which parts have been replaced. Unscrupulous individuals sometimes use paint to make old parts look newer.
• Check the inspection certificate. It will have the date of inspection, mileage at the time of inspection, place of inspection and the inspector's name recorded on it.
• Look for lube or maintenance stickers on the left doorframe, in the glove compartment, under the hood, in the trunk, etc. These often contain mileage information.
• Check with the manufacturer to see what work was done under the warranty and what the mileage was at the time the work was done.
• Check to see if the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned straight across. If they are crooked, the odometer may have been tampered with.
o If the car has a General Motors mechanical odometer, the spaces between the numbers should be black. If they are silver or white, the odometer has been tampered with.
o If the car has an electronic odometer, it has been designed to show an asterisk or some other sign if it has been tampered with. Information regarding this will be contained in the owner's manual.
• Research the vehicle's title history through the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles, or through a commercial title checking company.
• Be suspicious if the vehicle was sold several times in a few months.
• Be skeptical of former fleet vehicles with low mileage. These vehicles are driven an average of 32,000 miles per year and are almost never taken out of service early.
Utah Odometer Requirements
Every vehicle subject to registration in Utah must be equipped with a properly functioning odometer. It is illegal to operate, or to cause to be operated, a motor vehicle in which the odometer is known to be disconnected or nonfunctional, except while taking the vehicle to a repair shop.
It is a class A misdemeanor to install on any motor vehicle a device that causes the odometer to register mileage other than the true mileage, or to knowingly sell any vehicle on which the odometer has been altered in this manner.
It is a third-degree felony to issue a false odometer statement, to disconnect, turn back, or reset the odometer of any motor vehicle, or to knowingly sell a vehicle on which the odometer has been altered in this manner.
Odometer Mileage Disclosure Statement
At the time of the sale or transfer of any motor vehicle, the transferor is required to give the transferee a signed odometer mileage disclosure statement. Failure to provide such a statement, or violation of any rule concerning such a statement, is a Class B misdemeanor.
The transferee should acknowledge receipt of the statement by signing it and both the transferee and the transferor should keep a legible copy. The original odometer statement must be surrendered to the Motor Vehicle Division when the vehicle is titled and registered. Information contained in the odometer mileage disclosure statement includes the following:
• The odometer reading at the time of transfer
• The date of transfer
• The transferor's name and address or the transferor's authorized agent's name and address if the transferor is a company
• The transferee's name and address or the transferee's authorized agents name and address if the transferee is a company
• The make, model, year, body type and identification number of the vehicle, and
• An affirmation that the odometer mileage shown on the odometer statement is either the actual mileage, exceeds the mechanical limits of the odometer, or is not the actual mileage
Odometer Replacement or Repair
If the odometer needs to be repaired or replaced, the disclosure statement should read:
• The odometer was repaired or replaced and that the present reading is identical to the reading before the repair, or,
• The odometer was repaired or replaced, and because it was incapable of registering the same mileage as before, it was reset to zero.
If the odometer is repaired or replaced and then reset to zero, the disclosure statement must specify the mileage on the vehicle before the reading was altered. A notice in writing, on a form available from MVED, specifying both the date the odometer was repaired or replaced and the mileage on the vehicle before this occurred, must be permanently affixed to the left door frame of the vehicle.
Mileage Recorded on Title
The mileage of a motor vehicle must be included on the vehicle's title and on the application for transfer of ownership, and will be printed on the new title certificate.
Questions and Answers
- Are there any exceptions to the odometer mileage disclosure statement rule?
Odometer mileage disclosure statements do not need to be given for vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 pounds or more, vehicles 10 years old or older, or vehicles sold directly by the manufacturer to any agency of the United States Government (41-1a-902).
- Are there any motor vehicles that are not required to have a working odometer?
Only vehicles that are not subject to registration and trailers (41-1a-901 UCA).
- Should I sign a blank disclosure statement with the dealer's or buyer's assurance that it will be filled out later?
No. All signers are responsible for the certification of all information on the disclosure statement.
- Is it legal for a dealer to give a prospective purchaser the name of an automobile's previous owner?
No, because all motor vehicle records are classified as "protected." See Privacy of Motor Vehicle Records for more information.
- Does the customer have a right to see the incoming odometer mileage disclosure statement for the vehicle he/she is buying?
- What recourse do I have if my odometer has been tampered with?
The Tax Commission's Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division will investigate to determine whether or not an odometer law has been violated. Your attorney can advise you on possible civil remedies.
To register a complaint, follow this link
How to File a Complaint about a Dealer
The Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division (MVED) of the State Tax Commission regulates the automobile industry, investigates motor vehicle fraud and helps consumers who have trouble with auto dealers.
If you feel you have been cheated in a car deal or have a complaint about a dealer, you can contact the MVED:
Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division
Utah State Tax Commission
210 N 1950 W
Salt Lake City, UT 84134
(801) 297-2600 , or toll-free