Powerful Legal Advocacy

What you need to know about odometer fraud

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Auto Dealer Fraud

Odometer fraud, a deceptive practice involving tampering with the mileage on a vehicle so it appears lower than it actually is, has become a growing concern in the automotive world. It represents yet another worry for buyers each time they set foot on a car lot.

This unethical act not only undermines trust, but also brings about a host of problems that can have serious consequences for unsuspecting consumers.

Deceptive action

Odometer rollbacks often occur when unscrupulous sellers manipulate the mileage reading to make a vehicle seem less traveled than it really is. There are various ways to achieve this deception, such as physically turning back the odometer or using digital tools to alter the electronic reading. The motive behind such actions is simple – to inflate the resale value of the vehicle and make it more appealing to potential buyers.

Financial impact

One of the immediate problems that odometer rollbacks cause for buyers is a financial one. Purchasing a vehicle with a falsified mileage reading can lead to buyers paying more than the true market value of the car.

The NHTSA estimates that odometer fraud costs American consumers more than $1 billion annually. Moreover, these unsuspecting buyers may face unexpected repair costs sooner than anticipated, as the true wear and tear on the vehicle is far greater than what the manipulated odometer suggests.


Beyond the financial implications, odometer rollbacks pose significant safety concerns. The mileage of a vehicle is a key factor in determining its maintenance needs.

With true mileage concealed, buyers may unknowingly neglect essential maintenance tasks, putting themselves and others on the road at risk. Brake system failures, engine malfunctions and other safety-critical issues can arise due to inadequate maintenance resulting from the false sense of security provided by a manipulated odometer reading.

Dealer fraud

To be certain, not all sellers are even aware of odometer fraud on a given vehicle. However, buyers must be alert for unscrupulous dealers who prioritize their immediate financial gains over ethical considerations and long-term consequences for unsuspecting buyers.

Some dealers deliberately change the odometer readings to make their used cars seem more attractive. They want to trick buyers into thinking the cars have lower mileage. This dishonest practice shows a lack of honesty in the car industry and emphasizes the need to penalize perpetrators.

Buyers must be vigilant against this menace and take action against dealerships they suspect of odometer tampering.