How to Protect Yourself: Odometer FraudSource: The Florida Attorney General's Office
Knowing a vehicle’s mileage is a good way to help ascertain its condition and value. After a vehicle has been driven for a while, certain systems need routine safety checks and repairs. If the odometer has been turned back, mechanical problems that could affect safety may go unchecked and unrepaired. Because odometer readings are relied upon so heavily, both Florida and federal law make tampering with odometers illegal.
- Disconnecting or turning back an odometer, and even owning a vehicle with a disconnected or nonfunctional odometer, are against the law.
- It’s also against the law to transfer title to a vehicle without providing a written statement that discloses the actual mileage at the time of transfer. However, some exceptions apply, such as for vehicles which are over 10 years old.
If you are concerned that an odometer may have been tampered with:
- 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.
Useful information, including the names of previous owners and vehicles’ history of owners and odometer readings, can be obtained from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Consumers may perform a Motor Vehicle Records Request by filling out and submitting Form 90510, available online at http://www.flhsmv.gov/resource-center/forms/.
File a complaint.
If you believe you have been the victim of odometer fraud, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by phone toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, if you purchased the car from a dealership, you may want to report the fraud to the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.