Odometer Regulations

Automobile odometers are federally regulated. For good reason! Historically shady car dealers would either replace or roll back the odometer giving unsuspecting consumers vehicles with more miles than what shows on the odometer.

Consumers drawn into this fraud pay more for a car they believe to have fewer miles than what is truly on the car. To the untrained eye it’s easy to fall prey to this fraudulent practice. What inevitably will happen is this won’t get caught until the victim trades the car or sells it and the State you live in catches the odometer discrepancy. Worse still you’re stuck with a car that potentially loses you thousands of dollars. For these reasons odometer regulations have been put in place.

So how can you protect yourself?

Several ways:

  1. Check CARFAX™ or AutoCheck™ Used car reports. Check the mileage on the report. Make sure the odometer has not been replaced. Legally it would show if it had.
  2. Contact the DMV and have them check last known miles.
  3. If the car has abnormal wear & tear based on the miles showing. Leather wrapped steering wheels can be a tell-tale sign. The leather is worn or slick looking.
  4. Check the under-carriage, engine compartment for wear. Cars with excessive miles will have wear and tear that is visible.
  5. Have the car plugged into a scanner or computer system; the cars onboard computer system will have the correct miles on its hard drive.

Odometer regulations are only intact until they reach 100K miles. At this point miles will be considered exempt. Vehicles ten years or older will also be exempt.

Here is the law for odometers:

The Federal odometer law, 49 U.S.C. Chapter 327 (Public Law 103-272)  

Fines for dealers who defraud carry $1500 or treble damages whichever is greater. With attorney’s fees and court costs included in with fines.

If you feel you may be a victim of odometer fraud, contact your States Department of Motor Vehicles enforcement division. They will guide you in the process of filing a complaint.

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