Saturday 6 June 2015

Odometer Tampering

Odometer Fraud

Odometer fraud, also referred to as "busting miles" (United States) or "clocking" (UK and Ireland), is the illegal practice of rolling back odometers to make it appear that vehicles have lower mileage than they actually do. Odometer fraud occurs when the seller of a vehicle falsely represents the actual mileage of a vehicle to the buyer.(Wikipedia)

This fraudulent practice has become a common problem in today's Nigeria auto industry. Most vehicles imported as "fairly used" or "tokunbo" vehicles, and mainly imported from the USA and Canada have had their odometers rolled back by the auto traders or dealers to appear to have lower mileage. The unsuspecting buyer would pay his/her millions to purchase the vehicle and only to find out after a month of two that his/her newly purchased vehicle has a major engine fault or is broken down beyond repair and this leads to huge waste of investment and causes heart pain.

The heart ache is not limited only to direct buyers of fairly used vehicles, it also happens to dealers who buy off vehicles from online auto traders who display their "rolled back odometer" vehicles making them attractive to the vehicle dealer who imports his vehicles in bulk only to later discover that the vehicles he purchased are junk vehicles and hence "un-sellable" commodity leading to loss of business profits and investments.

How to Avoid Odometer Fraud

In order to detect odometer fraud, it will be wise to follow the following simple steps:

Step 1. Examine the odometer for the number of miles.

  •     Automobiles average about 12,000 miles a year. For example, if a car is 5 years old but has far fewer than 60,000 miles, the odometer may have been tampered with.
  •     Look closely at the numbers on the odometer. Some auto makers program odometers to show an asterisk if the mileage is changed.
 Step 2.Ask the seller to show you the original title, not a duplicate.
  • If the title is from out of state or brand new, it may be a case of title washing or title fraud, and the mileage given may be false.  
  • Be sure to examine the title's mileage number closely and look for smudging or other tampering. The title should show the mileage in crisp type on a clean background.
Step 3. Ask to see oil change and maintenance receipts and inspection stickers. 
  • Examine the mileage on the receipts and inspection stickers and compare to the odometer. Inspection stickers can be found on door frames or windows. 

Step 4. Look for missing screws on or near the dashboard.
  • If the dashboard isn't put together perfectly, the odometer may have been tampered with.


Step 5. Inspect the brake pedal and floor mats.

  • If either is badly worn but the odometer has low mileage, it may be a case of odometer fraud.


Step 6. Take the vehicle to a mechanic and ask him to examine the car for wear and tear.
  • A mechanic knows what parts would be original on an older car. For example, a car's odometer may say 30,000 miles. Beware if the car has new parts that ordinarily would not be replaced until 60,000 miles. This may indicate odometer tampering.


Step 7. Measure the depth of the tread on the car's tires.

  • If the odometer says 25,000 miles, the car should still have its original tires, with tread deeper than than 2/32 of an inch (1.5875 mm). Ask the mechanic to check tire tread with a depth gauge.
  • You can check tire tread depth yourself using a coin. Insert the coin into the tread upside down. If the icon's head is partly covered, the tire has more than 2/32 of an inch.

Step 8. Order a Vehicle History Report from
  •  To successfully do this , you should request for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from the seller.
  • You can find your vehicle’s VIN in the title document, the vehicle registration, and on the insurance policy.
  • You can find the VIN number(aka chassis number) in the following areas of the vehicle:
           1. On the driver’s side dashboard (viewable through the windshield) 
            2. On the driver’s side doorn (on a sticker in the door jamb)

Enter the VIN number in the Search box on the website home page.

You can try it out Now. Please enter your VIN number in the Search box and hit ENTER.

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