Odometer Fraud: An Old, But Increasing Problem

By KBB.com Editors on April 21, 2009 9:20 AM
Despite being a scam almost as old as the automobile, odometer fraud may be at its worst today. Research from the vehicle history information firm Carfax says illegal odometer rollbacks have increased almost 60 percent over the past four years. The crime: Reduce the mileage shown on a car's odometer and sell the used vehicle to an unsuspecting buyer for more than the vehicle is worth. An example: A 2006 Toyota Camry with 24,000 miles on the odometer is worth about $3,000 more than one that's travelled 54,000 miles. Some believed that digital odometers would solve the problem, but they may have made it worse: Hacking a car's computer leaves fewer traces than tampering with old-style mechanical odometers. Combating the crime is difficult, but a Carfax history report may reveal either lower mileage on a later date or a period where unusually few miles were covered. Another significant action used-car buyers can take is to get an inspection by a skilled mechanic.