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HomeDriver's ResourcesHow Do You Know if Your Odometer Has Been Rolled Back?

Many people choose to purchase used vehicles It is well known that when buying brand new, the vehicle depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot.  However, when purchasing a used vehicle, there are various things you should be aware of is.

What is Odometer Rollback?


There are some who will roll back the odometer mileage readings. This is to make it look like the vehicle has lower mileage, this is odometer fraud.

Odometer Fraud

If someone rolls back an odometer, this is classified as fraud. There is an easy way to detect odometer rollback. Detection can be done by comparing the odometer reading with any maintenance and repair records. Normally the mileage is recorded when any repairs or maintenance is done on the vehicle. If there are inconsistencies, this could be a red flag for odometer rollback. A vehicle with mileage rollback is at risk of reducing the residual value.  This, in turn, would affect the durability, functionality, and durability of the vehicle.

Ways of Changing the Odometer Mileage Reading

There are a few ways the odometer reading on a vehicle can be changed.  If someone replaces the odometer without advising you upon purchasing the vehicle, this is a fraud. People can simply change or alter the mileage reading on the odometer; this is a fraud. Resetting or disconnecting the odometer is a fraud.


When purchasing a used vehicle, it is highly recommended to check the history of the vehicle through Carfax.  Carfax reports contain a multitude of information on used vehicles. Part of the Carfax report includes odometer reading.

Detecting Odometer Fraud


There are a couple of different ways to detect odometer fraud. Make sure the odometer numbers and readable and aligned. You can compare with similar vehicles what the average mileage is.  Check mileage recordings on vehicle repair and maintenance logs. Another way to detect possible odometer fraud is to check the vehicle’s wear and tear. If the vehicle still has original brakes and tires, that is an indication of lower mileage.

Digital Odometers

Many people believe digital odometers are safe from rollback or changing the mileage numbers. Digital odometers can also be rolled back and are very hard to detect. The vehicle’s circuit board can be removed, and the odometer reading can be changed. There is also rollback equipment used to access the electronic system of the vehicle.  Clockers is odometer rollbacks that use a laptop and software program. This is used to infiltrate the vehicle automated control systems and reprogram them to change odometer settings.

The Control Module

On modern vehicles, the mileage is tracked on two devices. The physical odometer number readings, and the control module. So even if the odometer has been tampered with, the control module should still have the correct mileage. Most dealerships have a tool that can check the control module.

Criminal History of Odometer Rollbacks

Multiple high-mileage vehicles had their mileage rolled back between 50 and 70 percent of their actual reading in 2015. The group committing fraud was charged for rolling back the odometers and reselling the vehicles for approximately double their value. An expert witness for odometer fraud, Dave Giles, of Nova Scotia, Canada was called to testify in 2016.  It is much easier to hide digital odometer fraud.

In another case, a Toronto, Ontario man was charged and convicted of odometer tampering. This was after an OMVIC investigation. He received the longest sentence ever recorded for illegal, fraudulent vehicle sales. He purchased from Western Canada, 30 vehicles and had them shipped to Ontario. These vehicles were mostly late model, high mileage pickup trucks. Some of the odometer readings were rolled back 150,000 kilometers. All the warranties on the vehicles had been canceled. One person that purchased one of the trucks had to put more than $22,000 into it for repairs. The odometer reading was 52,000 kilometers. However, the vehicle actually had 180,000 kilometers. In this case, the offender was convicted and sentenced to 450 days in jail. This same person had previous charges of rolling back odometers and was fined $393,000.

Red Flags to Look for When Buying a Used Vehicle

If the vehicle is priced below its true value, this could be a red flag. The vehicle should be registered in the seller’s name; if not this is a red flag. If the seller refuses to present a car history report or objects to you taking the vehicle to a mechanic for inspection, these too are red flags.

What is the Penalty for Odometer Rollback in Canada?


In Canada, penalties for tampering with odometers can lead to two years in jail. Also, fines up to $100,000.

Rollback of Odometers a Problem in Canada

In Canada, more than 89,000 vehicles are reported every year, with odometers that have been tampered with. This has cost Canadians more than $3.56 million dollars.  These researched estimates were released by CarFax, which is a United States-based company. The Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council states that curbsiders often sell vehicles that the odometer has been tampered with. Curbsiders are unregistered dealers that sell vehicles from public places. Curbsiders mislead people about the fact they are private sellers.

Rollback of Odometers a Problem in the United States

Studies conducted by the U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration state that more than 450,000 Americans will purchase used vehicles that have been subject to odometer rollbacks. This costs Americans $1.1 billion a year alone in this industry.  Quite often leasing companies take the returns of late-model vehicles that were leased. They may tamper with the odometer before placing them for sale on car lots.


Surprisingly enough, most odometer fraud is committed by wholesalers.  They sell dealers fleets of vehicles that have high mileage. These are newer vehicles, with odometers rolled back.  These vehicles are normally previously leased vehicles or part of a fleet.

Some think that odometer fraud no longer exists but they are wrong as shown here there are new ways that have been discovered for achieving this. This means used car buyers have to be diligent when purchasing this type of vehicle.

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