Mileage tampering: How to detect tricked odometers used in the cars

Mileage tampering: How to detect tricked odometers used in the cars  28th January 2023

India’s passenger-automotive industry was valued as the third-largest globally in 2022. While the market for new cars is predicted to grow at a higher rate in 2023, not all Indian consumers are covered under this segment and belong to relatively lower economic strata characterised by lower disposable incomes. Such buyers drive demand for second-hand or used cars.

Expected to grow at a CAGR of 15%, the Indian used car market is not to be undermined. With global economic conditions' uncertainty, making prudent choices such as buying second-hand cars and purchasing online car insurance is expected to continue. While you can derive significant value from pre-used vehicles, the chances of getting scammed are also higher in case of negligent inspection. Odometer tampering is a prevalent form of cheating that you must beware of while purchasing a used car.

Here’s all you need to know about tampered odometers and tips to detect them.

Defining mileage tampering.

An odometer is a device that measures the usage of a car in terms of the distance it has run. It is calculated based on the wheel's rotation, which depends on its perimeter.

Mileage tampering, or odometer fraud, is a common trick car dealers use to persuade buyers to purchase old and well-used cars. Practised for various reasons, rolling back an odometer is an illegal act done to get a better price by selling a used car.

The issue with odometer fraud.

1. The inflated price of used cars:
By misrepresenting the car’s present condition, car dealers trick buyers into believing that the vehicle is relatively unused and sell them the used car at a higher price.

2. Safety issues:
Apart from the price of the vehicle, it also raises safety concerns. A car that has been used for a long while is sure to have accumulated miles and been through its fair share of harsh weather, rough terrain, and occasional accidents. All these factors are likely to adversely impact the vehicle's internal components and body frame, making it unsafe in the long run.

3. Insurance fraud:
Buying a used car with a rolled-back odometer may put you at risk of online car insurance fraud. While you may not have intentionally misrepresented facts and may be the victim of a tampered odometer, insurance companies see facts at face value and do not consider earlier activities. Therefore, it becomes essential for you to declare genuine and accurate mileage figures related to your car while buying online car insurance to ensure raising a successful claim when needed.

Tips to avoid odometer fraud.

1. Check the service records:
Before committing to purchase an old car, ensure that you check the maintenance records. Missing entries and figures that don't match are a sign to look out for.

2. Inspect the car body:
Check if the car's physical condition aligns with the story represented by the odometer. A worn-out, dent-ridden, paint-scratched vehicle is bound to have been on the roads for longer than one in pristine condition.

3. Look under the steering:
What are some key giveaways of a well-used car? It's the accelerator, brake and clutch! The groove depths of the pedals can indicate the usage of the vehicle and help detect odometer fraud.

4. Check the odometer:
While there are no tell-tale signs, the naked eye can identify a poorly done tampering job. This could be in the form of ill-fitted modifications and off-sounding odometer mechanisms.

5. Experts know best:
If you're sceptical, asking for an expert’s evaluation is best. This way, analogue or digital odometers can be thoroughly inspected for tampering attempts.

Odometer tampering is widespread and spares neither digital nor analogue devices. In such cases, one must always exercise caution and take necessary precautions to detect issues before signing the dotted line. Additionally, continue your prudent streak and purchase online car insurance to protect yourself from the financial losses from car accidents.

Click HERE to buy online car insurance.

Disclaimer: The information provided above is for illustrative purposes only. To get more details, please refer to policy wordings and prospectus before purchasing a policy.