Current statistics show that a large percentage of all cars on the road have a negative history. Mileage rollback is one of the most occurring types of fraud in the selling process of used cars. Consumers do, however, have options to detect mileage fraud. Therewith, they are able to protect themselves against used vehicle fraud and especially against mileage inconsistencies.
Even though odometer fraud is difficult to detect for the untrained eye, it is not an impossible task. CARFAX has compiled an infographic and a list of tips to help used car buyers avoid odometer fraud:
A vehicle with a history of damage or and mileage rollback represents an increased risk for the buyer which directly affects the residual value, price, functionality, durability of the vehicle and even the public road safety.
The low economic growth in Europe has caused the used vehicle market to grow notably over the last years. Consumers tend to make investments that are less financially demanding, but often forget the risk that is involved with a used vehicle. The growth in use and purchase of second-hand vehicles displays the need for consumers to combat vehicle fraud in order to make safe long-term purchases possible.
Infographic: Odometer fraud
The first way to detect odometer rollback fraud is to compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage number on the vehicle maintenance or inspection records. Reparations and inspections normally record the mileage number. Any inconsistencies with these numbers on official documents can indicate odometer fraud. The CARFAX Vehicle History Report is the new way to obtain mileage information. CARFAX collects mileage information for millions of cars, and can warn you for possible mileage inconsistencies.
Control the wear and tear of the vehicle such as the gas, brakes and tires and see if these are consistent with the mileage number displayed on the odometer. A car with a mileage number below 20,000 for example, normally still has its original tires. Check when the last oil change took place. A sticker inside the vehicle often reads when the car had its last oil change and what its mileage number was at the time. The interior of the car is evenly important. Examine the usage and wear of the wheel, gear lever and pedals and compare this to the mileage number on the odometer. Determine whether these are consistent.
In case the vehicle has a traditional mechanical odometer, check if the numbers are aligned correctly and are fully readable. Crooked numbers or numbers that contain gaps are often an indication of odometer fraud.
Research the amount of previous owners the car had and compare this amount with the mileage indication. An excessive amount of previous owners might indicate odometer or other types of fraud. The number of previous owners is one of the features that can be found in the CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Moreover, CARFAX calculates the average mileage of the vehicle, based on make, model, fuel type an vehicle age, as a unique indicator of usage.
Unquestionably, dash screws, scratches in the odometer area and parts that are replaced that normally wouldn’t have to be replaced can be a sign of mileage rollback. We generally recommend you to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle.
Prevent mileage fraud
An effective way to increase your safety and to increase awareness about a used car is the CARFAX Vehicle History Report. CARFAX is the market leader of Vehicle History Reports and enables the owner and buyer to take a look into the unique history of a car. Every CARFAX Vehicle History Report checks for: mileage information and inconsistency, car theft, the number of previous owners, the type of use and uncovers car information through service and inspection records. Before you buy a used car, obtain a CARFAX Vehicle History Report or request one from your dealer or private seller.
The vehicle facts that are available may save the buyer from a dreadful investment. Since CARFAX works together with national and international ministries, agencies and dealers, the history of a used car through a CARFAX Vehicle History Report is reliable and transparent to all potential buyers and sellers. All vehicle history records that we collect are integrated into a comprehensive report, to give an accurate representation of the vehicle to the user and to increase the safety of purchase.
With a CARFAX Vehicle History Report, dealers are able to raise awareness, transparency and trust in their sale of a used vehicle. Whereas buyers are able to gain insights in order to make a safer long-term purchase based on fundamental information.
Odometer Fraud in Europe
CARFAX, automobile clubs and law enforcement agencies across Europe estimate consumers will continue to lose billions of Euros to odometer fraud. Despite efforts to combat odometer fraud – including tougher laws and increased enforcement – consumers are increasingly at risk to this age-old scam.
The combat of odometer fraud has developed very differently within the European countries, mainly due to country specific laws and efforts.
In Germany, one of the biggest used car markets in Europe, mileage rollback remains a very common act in the sale of used cars. The German police have estimated that approximately every 3rd car has been subject to odometer fraud. Further, they estimate that on average, the illegal increase of a used car’s value lays around 3.000 €. That means that only in Germany, the yearly losses amount to almost 6 Billion Euros. The legal situation is very strict in Germany, which means the Vehicle Identification Number is considered as personal data which is protected by the law. Unfortunately, products like the CARFAX Vehicle History Report, which could provide more transparency, can therefore not be offered to buyers or sellers. As long as this situation will not change, mileage manipulation in Germany will remain a big issue.
The terms that are used to describe the rollback of a vehicle’s odometer and the false documentation of a car’s mileage are "clocking" and "spinning". Of course, falsifying documents or tampering the odometer is illegal in most countries in Europe. What’s more worrying however, is that auto experts say that it's relatively easy to do and that anyone could do it. Consequently, consumers should be alerted about odometer fraud when purchasing a used car, since it does not only affect the value of the car; it also increases the likelihood for costly repairs to occur sooner rather than later.
Naturally, if the car has a lot more miles than the odometer indicates, the probability of major repairs and lots of little things going wrong is greatly increased, however, it isn’t as simple as it seems. Even experts need to examine the car closely before being able to detect whether the car’s odometer has been tampered with. For this reason we always recommended to consult a reliable mechanic when purchasing a used car.
To alleviate the problem of odometer tampering, auto manufacturers had developed the digital odometer. However, just as quickly as the technology had developed, scam artists learned how to use it for the wrong reasons. In this case, the very tools that were meant to correct the mileage on digital odometers were used to roll back the odometers. A used car with a digital odometer may seem like a safer purchase, but don’t be fooled. Digital odometers may nowadays even pose a greater risk than before.