When buying a used car, how can you tell if an odometer is telling the truth? Well, back in ’86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect DC consumers against mileage fraud. It says a seller must certify that the mileage reported is the Actual Mileage.
What the seller has to reveal about the odometer reading:
- The odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 miles and then start over at 0.
- The odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.
If the seller tells you the odometer reading isn’t accurate, there’s not much chance of putting a good number to it; And there’s the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it’s not so.
What are the questions to ask when buying a used car?
You want information about local ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buy-backs, lemon reports and warranty status. For that, you can go to Car Fax online where for a small fee, they’ll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your late model vehicle.
Car owners can also get a mileage history by checking with their local DMV. Look for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car’s bought and sold. If there are signs of odometer rollback, now you’ll now.
If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There’s always another car for sale.
Vehicle care information made available by Metro Motor is presented as helpful advice for general maintenance and should not be construed as instructions for at-home vehicle service. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual and a licensed, professional mechanic for diagnostics and repair.