Consumer Alert - How to avoid odometer fraud

Consumer Alert - How to avoid odometer fraud
Consumer Alert

POSTED: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 5:04am

Here are ways to help avoid being victimized by odometer fraud:

- Have a mechanic you trust check out the car. This will cost money, but it can save much more.

- Look for loose screws or scratch marks around the dashboard. This is pertinent primarily to mechanical odometers which can be manipulated with tools.

- On mechanical odometers, check to make sure that the digits in the odometer are lined up straight--particularly the 10,000 digit.

- Test drive the car and see if the speedometer sticks.

- Check for service stickers inside the door or under the hood that may give the actual mileage. Odometer tamperers try to find these as well, but sometimes miss one.

- Look in the owner‟s manual to see if maintenance was listed, or if pages that might have shown high mileage were removed.

- Ask the dealer whether a computer warranty check has been run on the car.

- Use a commercially available computer search program that checks for mileage alterations. Some car dealers will give you one of these for free if you ask for it. While this is an important step to take, it is not foolproof by any means because not all high mileages are recorded on paperwork that makes its way to these databases.

- Ask to see the title documents and look to see if the mileage reading on the documents has been altered.

- Look to see if the steering wheel was worn smooth. Look for other signs of excessive wear on the arm-rest, the floor mats, the pedals for the brakes and gas, and the area around the ignition. If these items were recently replaced, that could also indicate efforts to hide the car's true use and mileage.

- Don't assume that mileage is accurate just because the vehicle has an electronic odometer.

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