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How Do Car Dealerships Commit Odometer Fraud?

Car dealerships commit odometer fraud to sell vehicles that may be difficult to sell with high mileage. There are a number of ways that odometer fraud could be committed. For example, a dealer may physically tamper with the mileage count. If a potential buyer is not aware of the common signs of odometer fraud, they can end up with an unreliable vehicle that will require frequent repairs. If you or a family member was a victim of odometer fraud, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore odometer fraud lawyer today. At Whitney, LLP, our consumer fraud lawyers can help you discover deceptive practices committed by an unethical car dealership. Whitney, LLP is here to explain how car dealerships commit odometer fraud.

Common Signs of Odometer Rollback

It is estimated that there at least one million vehicles on the road that have an odometer that has been rolled back. Some fraudulent car dealerships are becoming better at concealing the existence of an odometer rollback. Fortunately, there are various signs that you can look for to determine whether a vehicle has been tampered with.

Replaced Odometer

Many vehicle manufacturers are making digital odometers a standard addition to their cars. However, even digital odometers are prone to tampering. In order to be repaired, these odometers must be removed from the dashboard and sent to a metering shop. While a digital odometer is being repaired, the vehicle itself should not be used. Unfortunately, some dealerships may continue to operate a vehicle without an odometer.

It is also possible that a dealership may not have added the adequate miles to the digital odometer. If you observe scratch marks around the area of the odometer or see fingerprints inside the odometer, you should ask whether it was removed for repairs.

There should also be documentation of any repairs made to the digital odometer. If the documents concerning the odometer repairs and the dealer’s statements are not adding up, you should consider visiting another dealership. While there are many reasons to remove an odometer that are not fraudulent, there should also be extensive documentation about these repairs.

It is also important to note that on older model odometers it is easier for a dealership to alter the numbers on the odometer manually.

Unusual Wear and Tear

The visual appearance of a vehicle should match the reported mileage of a vehicle. For example, if a vehicle reportedly has 50,000 miles on the odometer, but the spark plugs and other wires that are usually replaced around 100,000 miles look older than they should, this may be a sign of tampering.

On average, you should accumulate approximately 12,000 miles on your car every year. An unexplainably low amount of mileage per year may be a sign that a vehicle has been tampered with. While it is necessary to consider the previous owner’s driving habits, you should still carefully examine the vehicle’s condition:

  • Check the wear and tear on the pedals, a vehicle with low mileage should not have pedals that are severely worn down
  • The carpets in vehicles are very durable and usually will not display signs of wear and tear after a couple of thousand miles
  • Faded and chipped paint are not normal for a vehicle that has a low amount of miles
  • Worn down tire treads could be a sign of tampering depending on the type of tires installed on a vehicle

Fraudulent Paperwork

Every vehicle should have an extensive and well-documented service history. Whenever a vehicle is repaired the mechanic should make a note of the miles on the odometer. For example, if the oil was changed, a sticker should be placed on the windshield to tell the owner about the next time an oil change is needed.

Some dealerships will attempt to add false odometer readings to documents. If you notice that a service report has scratched out numbers or the reported numbers do not match up with the numbers on the odometer, you should be careful about purchasing a vehicle from this dealership.

There are many other ways that a dealership could commit odometer fraud. It may be wise to ask a mechanic to inspect a vehicle before you purchase it. However, if you purchased a vehicle with an odometer that was altered, our firm can help you with your problem.

Our Maryland Consumer Protection Attorney Can Help You File a Claim

If you purchased a vehicle that was the subject of odometer fraud, you should contact an experienced Maryland consumer protection attorney today. The dealership fraud attorneys at Whitney, LLP possess years of experience handling a wide range of car dealership claims, and we are prepared to use these skills to represent you. You do not have to deal with the consequences of odometer fraud alone, contact Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000.

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