COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — If you’re in the market for a used car this new year, beware that shady sellers are still using an old trick in order to make a bigger profit.
“Used car prices right now, we know, are at record levels, and you could be paying thousands over what you should be paying if you don’t know that a vehicle has a rolled-back odometer,” said Emilie Voss with CARFAX.
Voss said odometer fraud is nothing new, but it is a growing problem.
“These fraudsters go in and they manipulate the odometer on vehicles to make it appear that there’s less miles than there really are on a car, and that increases the value of the vehicle,” Voss said. “On average, we know that a vehicle with a rolled back odometer is worth $4,000 more than if it was at its original reading.”
Nationally, CARFAX estimates 1.9 million vehicles on the roads with a rolled-back odometer, and more than 40,000 of them are driven by Ohioans who are unaware that they’ve been duped and are likely paying a lot more.
“You’re spending $4,000 more than what you should be on a vehicle and then you have all the headache and heartache of maintaining a vehicle that has mileage on it that you didn’t know,” Voss said.
So, how does it happen? The owner of Atlanta Speedometer, Josh Ingle, gave a demonstration. Without revealing too much, Ingel changed the mileage on a 2009 Chevy in a matter of seconds, from 150,000 miles to 50,000 miles.
Ingle said the value of that truck jumped from $4,300 to $7,300. That’s why, Voss said, anyone buying a used car should do their homework. She recommended taking the vehicle to a trusted mechanic.
“That trained mechanic for that independent inspection is going to be able to see things, wear and tear on the vehicle, that’s your best bet of seeing if the wear and tear on the vehicle doesn’t match the odometer reading,” Voss said.
Voss said that independent inspection is especially important because there is no digital footprint to be able to determine if an odometer has been tampered with. Unfortunately, if you’re a victim, proving it is next to impossible.