The term odometer fraud often conjures comical images of cartoon salespeople using power drills or driving backward for miles to trick consumers into paying too much for a vehicle. The idea that salespeople would tamper with the odometer on a vehicle is a common one, in no small part because of the very strong correlation between the mileage on a vehicle and its actual resale value.
Even older vehicles with low mileage can command premium prices on the secondary market. Despite the prevalence of electronic odometers that might make certain forms of odometer fraud less feasible, reports from industry insiders indicate that odometer fraud is actually on the rise. As a result, consumers need to perform their due diligence in order to better protect themselves.
Salespeople want maximum profit
With major demand for used cars allowing dealerships to put premium prices on their vehicles, performing little tricks that increase the value of a vehicle may seem to be a profitable and worthwhile gambit. Some of these tricks actually break the law and constitute fraud, including intentionally changing the display on an odometer.
According to a review of odometer inaccuracies by Carfax, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of vehicles with inaccurate odometers recently. The company estimates there are 1.9 million vehicles in the United States with inaccurate odometers, which is a 7% increase from 2022.
They found that roughly 3.5% of all vehicles have changes made to the odometer in the first 11 years after its production. In other words, this isn’t something necessarily happening to classic cars and very outdated models but also to newer used vehicles.
Consumers may need to fight back against odometer fraud
It might only be when someone schedules an oil change or looks back over their vehicle history report after completing the purchase that they realize there is a discrepancy between the reported mileage on the report and what the odometer shows. The bigger the gap, the more the fraudulent alteration of the odometer’s reading may have impacted the owner’s decision.
From the vehicle that they chose to the price that they offered, much of the transaction may have been contingent on information that was not accurate. Fighting back against auto dealer fraud with the assistance of a legal professional can compensate those who have been affected and may also remove some of the incentives for such unscrupulous behavior.