|Odometer Fraud Runs Rampant: NHTSA|
American car buyers fall victim to more than 450,000 cases of odometer fraud every year, according to a new study just released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
NHTSA's preliminary report "The Incidence Rate of Odometer Fraud," reveals that rolled back or "spun" odometers cost U.S. consumers an estimated $2,336 per vehicle purchased, or more than $1 billion per year. Worse yet, says NHTSA, the figures do not include extra related consumer costs such as inflated financing, insurance, taxes and vehicle repairs that consumers pay due to odometer fraud.
"Odometer fraud puts the safety and well-being of consumers at risk because it misleads them about wear and tear on the vehicle they are buying," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said. "This crime preys on consumers who often can afford it least, the people who buy used cars, and I commend those authorities who are helping to protect consumers by enforcing laws against tampering with odometers."
Odometer fraud is an illegal act involving the mechanical rolling back of odometers with the intent of making it appear a vehicle has lower mileage than it actually does. Since consumers typically consider mileage a key indicator of a vehicles condition and value, they often pay more for cars they believe have lower mileage. When sold on the used car market, cars with rolled back odometers often bring artificially high prices.
Based on a nationally representative sample of 10,000 passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles, NHTSA estimates the chance that a vehicle will have its odometer rolled back at any point during the first 11 years after it was produced at 3.47 percent. The estimate was also based on a review of the CARFAX national vehicle history database, which identifies vehicles with odometer discrepancies that suggest illegal mileage rollback.
All U.S. states now meet the minimum federal regulatory requirements developed through the Truth in Mileage Act (TIMA) of 1986, the latest of several measures passed by Congress to prohibit odometer tampering and protect consumers. Still, the NHTSA study found that very few states have a comprehensive detection program to identify cases of suspected odometer fraud.
How to Detect Odometer Fraud
While it can be very difficult for the average car buyer to detect any but the most obvious cases of odometer fraud, About's expert Guide to Auto Repair Vincent Ciulla offers these Tips on Odometer Fraud.