While winding back the clock might seem like a wonderful option for life in general, when it comes to buying a used car you certainly don’t want the sellers winding back the odometer to make the car appear to have travelled fewer kilometres than it actually has.
Odometer fraud is a big issue in used car sales and one that can carry heavy charges should the Office of Fair Trading investigate the matter.
While car sellers may not view it as a big deal, tampering with odometers to make them show false and lower readings is a crime and can hold criminal charges.
While it might be difficult to detect for a buyer, there are a few ways to ensure you are protecting yourself as a buyer when it comes to odometer readings.
Here are some things to consider in your quest to avoid odometer fraud:
- Check the service records and registration papers to ensure there are no discrepancies in the paperwork. If something just doesn’t look right, ask the seller or your mechanic to find out more.
- Understand that even if the odometer reading is super low, it doesn’t mean the car is in pristine condition, and you should do all the checks to ensure the car is in good working order.
- Always carry out an independent safety check by a licensed and registered mechanic before you buy a vehicle, they will be able to flag any issues you might have and be able to determine the condition of the car and estimate if the km’s are comparable with the condition.
- Check the history of the car. If it has been sold a few times you can gain access to old safety certificates and sales contractors to see if the kilometres are correct.
- Conduct a PPRS search (personal property securities register) to check that the vehicle is legally the property of the seller and there are no issues.
- If you are buying a grey import, be sure to have as much information as possible in the import process. There have been many cases of odometers being wound back in the grey import market and unless there is adequate information requested during the purchase process many cases of odometer fraud go undetected. Ask for an original Japanese export certificate to get a reading of the odometer before the vehicle left Japan and always get all the relevant checks in Australia before agreeing to a sale.
It can be difficult to detect odometer fraud and running through the checks above will help to ensure you are protecting yourself.
It’s always best to engage the expert advice of a licensed mechanic who can provide a deeper insight into whether your prospective vehicle might have been subjected to odometer fraud.