- Carfax reports that almost 200,000 cases of odometer fraud occur annually in the U.S.
- The Carfax researchers found that there are currently about 1 million vehicles on the road with rolled-back odometers.
- According to Carfax, odometer fraud has the potential to cost consumers more than $760 million per year in lost value and unexpected repairs.
CENTREVILLE, Virginia — The latest research from Carfax indicates that almost 200,000 instances of odometer fraud per year cost U.S. consumers more than $760,000 annually.
Carfax, which specializes in vehicle history reports, took a large sampling of Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) and sifted through 12 billion pieces of information in its databases to arrive at the conclusion that 190,000 odometers are tampered with each year.
The Carfax researchers determined that there are currently about 1 million vehicles on the road with rolled-back odometers and that odometer fraud has the potential to cost consumers more than $760 million per year in lost value and unexpected repairs.
"Odometer fraud is a calamity for car buyers," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax, in a statement. "There are serious problems that can arise from a rollback. Older, deteriorating parts lead to unexpected repairs while unperformed maintenance for the true mileage may compromise the safety and performance of these cars. Not to mention, each victim loses thousands of dollars because they pay much more than these cars are really worth."
Chris Basso, Carfax public relations manager, told Edmunds: "What's alarming is the perception that odometer fraud went away with the advent of digital odometers."
In fact, the opposite is true.
"It's even easier now," Basso said. "Cars are computerized, and there are online tools that allow individuals to roll back mileage in seconds."
And, Basso noted, unlike with the old mechanical gauges, "there's no physical evidence on the odometer itself that it's been tampered with."
The best protection for used-car shoppers, according to Carfax, is to be sure the vehicle's wear and tear is consistent with the odometer reading; ask the seller for service records, and note the mileage on them; buy from a trusted individual or dealer; be wary of deals that seem too good to be true; resist high-pressure sales techniques; have the vehicle inspected by an impartial mechanic; and, of course, order a vehicle history report from Carfax.com.
The Carfax site includes a page where consumers worried about odometer fraud can enter a vehicle's VIN and their zip code to check for known cases of tampering. There's also a link to a page that tells consumers what to do if they discover a case of odometer fraud.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers should take note that onboard computers and digital odometers have actually made fraud even easier for the crooks.