Odometer tampering remains a major concern even though automakers switched from analog to digital displays years ago.
According to a new report from NBC affiliate NBC 12, millions of cars wander local roads with odometer fraud.
The TV channel worked with CarFax to investigate how widespread odometer rollbacks are in the digital age and the experts shared that it's easier than ever to rollback mileage on a vehicle. Chris Basso, a CarFax employee who worked on the investigation, said there are 1.6 million cars across the U.S. that may have a rolled-back odometer. The problems for consumers is vast. Not only does it put the owner at risk for expensive repairs, but it also jeopardizes the safety of drivers, passengers, and other motorists.
NBC 12 found that even a technician with little experience was able to easily manipulate the digital odometer in a 2006 model-year vehicle. The entire process took 30 seconds and took 100,000 miles off the life of the vehicle. With low miles, anyone selling a car can inflate its value and con a buyer into paying far more than what the vehicle is worth.
One owner who purchased a car with a rolled-back odometer said it's been a nightmare due to unexpected problems and maintenance issues that should not have been present for the number of miles the car actually showed. The owner's BMW should actually have over 218,000 miles on the odometer, but the digital, measurement showed 118,000 when the car was purchased.
There are a few things buyers can do to make sure they don't end up with a fraudulent odometer. Potential buyers can ask for a CarFax and AutoCheck history report. Both services will alert salespeople and buyers to potential odometer fraud and show mileage each time the car was registered. Most importantly, if a vehicle somehow seems too good to be true, gut instincts remain important. Having a trusted mechanic look over the vehicle before purchasing is never a bad idea, either.