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Odometer Mileage Tampering,
4 Signs to Look For

by Eddie Carrara

One would hope that odometer mileage tampering would be diminished with the implementation of digital odometers, but where there's a will, there's a way.  So how do you know the mileage is correct when buying a new or used car, how can you know for sure?

Odometer tampering is a huge problem when buying a used car and the reason is simple, lower mileage used cars sell better, and they're worth more money.  So what can you do as a consumer to protect yourself from odometer mileage tampering?  I recommend check out these 4 common signs of tampering.

Check Service History Mileage

One of the most obvious steps you can take is to look at the vehicles service history, every time a vehicle is brought into a shop or garage, the vehicle mileage is written on the repair order, therefore, looking back at the vehicle service history can provide you with mileage readings and dates at each service interval or oil change.  If a vehicle has a good documented service history, you can be confident that the odometer mileage has not been tampered with.

Replacing a Digital Odometer

Sometime a digital odometer will fail; as a result, it will have to be replaced.  When a shop/garage has to replace a digital odometer, the replacement odometer sent from the factory has zero mileage on it, so the odometer needs to be sent out to a professional speedometer facility to have the mileage from the old odometer transferred onto the new odometer.

The process is not complex, but it is time consuming.  Legally, both meters need to be sent to the speedometer shop to have the mileage transferred. The speedometer shop literally has to run the new speedometer/ odometer manually with a tool until it reaches the mileage of the original odometer. Depending on the actual mileage of the vehicle will determine how long it will take to transfer the mileage.

The reason for sending both new and old odometers to the metering shop is because the mileage of the vehicle cannot change while the new odometer is being synced.  If the instrument cluster is removed from the vehicle, it's to be expected that the vehicle will not be driven.  This process on average will take no more than two weeks or less, again, depending on mileage.

So if you happen to see gouge marks around the instrument cluster, be sure to ask if the odometer has ever been changed out, don't assume the odometer mileage has been tampered with because there are many reasons to remove the instrument cluster, and not just to get to the odometer.

Fingerprints or smudge marks on the inside of the instrument cluster is another sure sign someone has been in the cluster, it could be to change out a temperature gauge or a fuel gauge, so don't just assume, but do your home work, utilizing AutoCheck to verify the vehicles history can save you money, and the hassle of getting a Consumer Law Lawyer. 

If you have already purchased the vehicle and you start noticing signs of odometer rollback, getting professional help is a necessity.  The laws are very different from state to state, so having a lawyer representing you who knows the Consumer laws in your state is priceless.


Switches That Don't Belong

There have been many times where I have noticed switches on the dash that don't belong,  being curious, I would pull the switches to see where the wires would lead.  I wasn't very surprised to find the switch controlled the speedometer like a light switch; it turns the speedometer off and on.  Some switches were factory switches, like a fog light switch or AC switch, other switches were simple toggle switches.

This type of tampering is not like odometer rollback, the vehicle owner would just shut off the switch for a few months while driving so the mileage wouldn't rack up, and if the driver need to see the speed of the vehicle at any time, that's all they would have to do is turn the switch on for a few seconds, check their speed and then turn it off. 

This type of odometer mileage tampering was rather ingenious, it was well planned, very difficult to expose, and very deliberate.  The fact is that even if the service records were pulled, it would look like the vehicle was driven very few miles per year, but it always had accumulated some mileage, without any odometer rollback.


Replacing an Odometer without
Syncing the Mileage

If a digital odometer is replaced legally, the mileage doesn't have to be synced onto the new odometer, but the shop or garage doing the work will have to install an odometer replacement sticker somewhere very noticeable in the vehicle.  The usual area for this type of sticker would be in the driver's door jamb area, common placement of this sticker is near the VIN plate in the driver's door jamb, it will be noticed as soon as you open the door.

The odometer replacement sticker will have the original mileage hand written on it from the tech who replaced the meter.  The repair order will also have the original mileage and date on it, the repair order is a legal document, and it is proof of original mileage.  The new odometer will start clocking mileage from that point starting at zero miles.  To figure out the actual mileage on the vehicle, you will have to add the mileage from the sticker to the mileage on the new odometer, and that will give you the actual mileage of the vehicle.

What Should You Do if You Suspect
Odometer Mileage Tampering

First, you should have some kind of evidence, don't jump to conclusions just because you notice the dash or instrument cluster has some mars, scratches or fingerprints in it or on it.  If you have proof that the odometer mileage has been tampered with, you can contact a consumer law lawyer.  If you have a question about odometer mileage tampering, odometer rollback, or the Consumer laws in your state, you can ask a consumer lawyer a question free at

Please Share This Information

Someone you know may need this information on odometer mileage tampering, so please share it on Facebook , Twitter or send a link by email. As long as there are cars on the road, we will have odometer mileage tampering, so getting this information to friends and relatives is imperative, you never know who's going through this type of problem, plus, I would really appreciate it.

Leave any comments you have in the box below, and if you have questions, I'll answer them to the best of my ability, thanks for sharing.

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