News

Consumer Advisory:  Tips from NHTSA to Protect Against Odometer Fraud

| Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is issuing a consumer advisory to protect the public from becoming victims of odometer fraud. Two men were recently arraigned in Mississippi for rolling back the odometers of multiple high-mileage vehicles and selling such fraudulently altered vehicles with doctored titles. The case was investigated by United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Odometer fraud is the disconnection, resetting, or alteration of a vehicle’s odometer with the intent to change the number of miles indicated. NHTSA estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings. 

“Odometer fraud costs American consumers more than $1 billion annually, said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “We will continue to work with Department of Justice and State DOT partners to investigate odometer fraud, deter tampering, and inform consumers of the potential signs and dangers associated with this crime.”

NHTSA has a special hotline for odometer fraud complaints. Consumers with information relating to odometer tampering should call 800-424-9393 or 888-327-4236. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.NHTSA.gov/Equipment/Odometer-Fraud

The following is a list of tips to help used-car buyers detect odometer fraud:

  • Ask to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Be sure to examine the title closely if the mileage notation seems obscured or is not easy to read.
  • Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. Also, search for oil change and maintenance stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box or under the hood.
  • Check that the numbers on the odometer gauge are aligned correctly. If they’re crooked, contain gaps or jiggle when you bang on the dash with your hand, walk away from the purchase.
  • Examine the tires. If the odometer on your car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.
  • Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle—especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals—to be sure it seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
  • Request a vehicle history report to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN to order a vehicle history report online.
  • If you suspect fraud, contact NHTSA and your State’s enforcement agency.

NHTSA

NHTSAmedia@dot.gov 202-366-9550