Altered odometers on the rise in Florida

63,000 cars, trucks sold with inaccurate mileage in 2018

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Odometers on an estimated 63,000 used cars and trucks on Florida highways were altered to fool potential buyers and get a higher asking price, according to new data released by Carfax.

The report suggests Florida is one of the top targets in the odometer roll back scheme that impacted more than 1.5 million vehicles across the country, a 19 percent increase from 2017. 

Unsuspecting buyers are paying Kelley Blue Book value for cars that are worth thousands less based on manipulated odometers that read with mileage far less than the true total.

According to Chris Basso, a used car expert with Carfax, consumers lose an average of $4,000 in value and unexpected repair costs.

Sherine Powell, a single mother of two from Kissimmee, told News 6 she paid $7,999 for a 2005 Toyota Corolla with just over 101,000 miles on the odometer.

When Powell took the vehicle in to a Toyota Dealership for repair, a check of her vehicle identification number showed the car had mileage between 125,000 to more than 160,000 miles each time it was in for repair.

The auto dealership that sold her the car is out of business.

“I was taken back by the whole thing," Powell said. “I figured something like that could happen, but I didn’t know it could happen to me.”

“That car is half of what she paid for it,” Basso told News 6. “Statewide this is a huge issue especially in Central Florida, there’s a double digit increase over last year. 

According to Carfax, odometer rollbacks jumped more than 12 percent with 59,333 altered odometers in 2017 versus 63,290 in 2018.

“There’s a lot of vehicles out there that people may be driving or even buying right now and they’re losing a lot of money," Basso said.

Basso used a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado to demonstrate how easy it is to roll back a digital odometer.

Using a legal device used for odometer adjustments, the truck with 230,000 miles suddenly had 130,000 miles in less than a minute.

That high tech adjustment doubled the value of the truck.

Basso said consumers can avoid becoming a victim of odometer fraud by checking the history of the vehicle before they buy.

News 6 viewers can check for used car or truck odometer fraud free of charge at www.carfax.com/odo.

According to the state attorney general, you should follow these steps when concerned about the accuracy of an odometer:

  • Look for oil-change stickers, service records or warranty cards that may reflect the mileage of the vehicle.
  • Ask to see the odometer statement received by the person who is selling the vehicle to you in order to find out the mileage at the time he or she bought it.
  • If buying from a dealer, contact the previous owner to ask about the mileage and condition of the vehicle.
  • Check the car’s door frame. If an odometer is repaired or replaced and the odometer is incapable of registering the same mileage as before the repair or replacement, the odometer should be adjusted to read zero and a notice must be attached to the door frame specifying the mileage prior to replacement.
     

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