What's the Deal: Odometer rollback warning for used car buyers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Auto experts say odometer fraud strikes millions of vehicles and those in the market for a used car need to be careful.

"People just believe that odometer fraud doesn't happen anymore and that's simply not the case. Odometer fraud is alive and well in the Philadelphia area and around the country and its costing people thousands of dollars, said Chris Basso of Carfax.

Carfax data suggests more than 1.5 million vehicles on the road have had their odometer rolled back. That's a 19 percent increase over last year and technology is making it easier to do.

"A digital odometer can be changed really in less than a minute," Basso said.

Carfax conducted a live demonstration.

"This truck right here has about 230,000 miles on it and 'as is' the Carfax value for this truck in Philadelphia is about $2,300, but with Josh taking 100,000 miles off the car's odometer, it's going to artificially inflate the value so now that car is worth over $6,000 in Philadelphia," said Basso.

Not only are you paying more than the car is worth an odometer rollback might also translate into unexpected maintenance issues.

"If the oil changes and the tire rotations weren't done than that's a real issue in how the car is going to perform and have parts break down when you least expect it," said Basso.

So when you're looking for that new ride, be sure to give the car a thorough test drive and pay attention to the vehicle's wear and tear. The best way to do that is to have it inspected by a mechanic.

Also run the vehicle's vin number through Carfax for a complete history report and estimated value.

For more information:

Carfax

Edmunds: 10 Steps to buying a used car

Kelley Blue Book: Tips
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