Iowa Warns About Easy-to-Use Odometer Rollback Devices Running Rampant

Used odometers for sale on the internet
With two consumer complaints in the last week, odometer rollbacks appear to be increasing. And we aren't the only ones who think so.

At the end of September the Iowa Independent Automobile Dealer's Association issued a "Dealer Alert" to its members, warning them of a rise in odometer tampering. The alert includes a link to a revealing youtube video - one of a dozen or more video's that shows just how easy the electronic "gizmo" devices are that can quickly and easily change the odometer reading on cars with an electronic dash. As one video says, you can do it in two seconds.

The Iowa auto group notes that low mileage vehicles are very difficult to find these days and dealers re paying higher than normal prices for low mileage cars and trucks. Premium prices for low mileage vehicles means lots of opportunity for crooks to "roll" the odometer back and make a quick and easy buck - in fact, thousands of dollars.

The dealer alert warns dealers that the National Auto Auction Association has also issued several alerts about odometer programming devices being used to reset odometers to lower readings. Many of these devices are made overseas, often in China, and sell for a few hundred dollars up to as much as several thousands. Some are handheld devices that simply plug in while others require more work to get the numbers changed. Easy or hard - it's illegal in every state to tamper with an vehicle odometer.

Handheld Odometer tampering device for sale on the internet
We gave a speech three years ago at a conference of auto fraud lawyers in Texas, warning of the rise of these handy handheld odometer tampering devices.

They are relatively cheap and easily available. Here is a link to one that is on sale - half price - and only $215 and it looks like the one that appears in several of the YouTube videos online. This stuff is real and crooks are using it.

The youtube's even show how remarkably easy they are to operate.

And in a few minutes with one of these devices, a crook can crank back the odometer on a used car and increase its value on the resale market by an easy three to eight thousand dollars. Given the cost of the device itself, a crook can make a lot of money very fast and very easy.

These computer devices can tap into your car's onboard diagnostic computer and alter the odometer reading with just a few clicks. Moral of the story? If you are in the market for a used car, be very careful when you look at any low milage vehicles. In fact, it's easier to spin a high mileage commercial truck from 200,000 miles down to 100,000 and not get noticed - and the money is just as good.

So commercial or consumer vehicle, the danger is out there. Before you buy a used vehicle, protect yourself with these easy steps.

Run an AutoCheck or CarFax or NMVTIS report - better yet, run all three. Each of them get their data is slightly different ways and sometimes from different sources. Better safe than sorry and the cost isn't that much. But don't stop there.

Look at pedals for unusual wear
Check the vehicle out carefully for what you can see. Look for unusual pedal wear and floor mat wear, along with carpeting and seat wear.

Worn and thin places, combined with low mileage on the car or truck, is a sign that someone has rolled the odometer backwards to increase the vehicle's value. But don't stop here either.

Likely "target" vehicles are one-owner vehicle so be extra careful. Iowa's group points out that with one owner vehicles, the best thing to do is get sevice records to show real mileage number history. If the mileage seems suspiciously low and the seller has no service records, be careful.

Always get a pre-purchase vehicle inspection

Another way to minimize your problem later is to always insist on getting some kind of warranty from the seller. Even a 3 day warranty from the selling dealer will, in most states, trigger warranty rights that can help you later.

But of course, the best way to avoid a rollback vehicle is to always buy from someone you know. And that's not likely a car dealer.

Car dealers buy hundreds of vehicles at auto auctions all over the US and the auction yard is a crook's favorite place to unload a rollback vehicle. A quick sale and the thief is gone. Months later, long after the dealer has sold the vehicle, the consumer may find out the engine has a lot more wear than they thought when parts begin to fail. Complaining to the selling dealer won't do much good because they will just claim innocent lack of knowledge. And you get stuck.

Be careful out there. Thieves are everywhere. And some of them are car dealers who know what they are buying - and what they are selling.

If you get ripped off, call us. We can help you get even by getting your money back. It's what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumer protect themselves for over 25 years.
Call our Toll Free Hotline, 1.888.331.6422

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Known nationwide as a leading Lemon Law attorney, Ronald L. Burdge has represented literally thousands of consumers in "lemon" lawsuits and actively co-counsels and coaches other Consumer Law attorneys. From 2005 through 2018, attorney Ronald L. Burdge has been named as the only Lemon Law Ohio Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine and Thomson Reuters Corp., Professional Division. Burdge restricts his practice to Lemon Law and Consumer Law cases. The Ohio Super Lawyer results are published annually in the January issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Ronald L. Burdge was named Consumer Law Trial Lawyer of the Year 2004 by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the nation's largest organization of consumer law private and government attorneys. "Your impact on the auto industry has been magnified many times over because of the trail you blazed for others," stated NACA's Executive Director, Will Ogburn. Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations. Burdge is admitted to Ohio's state and federal courts, Kentucky's state courts, and Indiana's federal courts. Other court admissions are on a "pro hac" temporary, case by cases basis.