A Sneaky Market
It’s not just that people may use a drill to wind-back the odometer on older vehicles, it’s that there’s an incentive to find ways of doing this. When economies struggle, that means people within those economies struggle. This trickles down to businessmen. Especially on car lots where merchandise sits without being purchased for decades, used car salesmen get antsy.
Compounding the issue is the need for regular individuals to get the best deal for the least amount of money on a good vehicle. From Craigslist to used car lots nationwide, people are always trying to pawn off crappy cars as qualitative vehicles through varying means of deception. One of the most popular involves odometer fraud.
Today, this requires a certain level of technical acumen to achieve owing to digitized metrics through the computers of modern vehicles. But whether or not digital odometer readings define the dashboard will depend on the make and model you’re considering. In either scenario, there are ways to manipulate readings and trick buyers.
The best way to avoid odometer fraud is probably going to be having a means of researching the VIN. Vehicle Identification Numbers are used throughout the industry to identify vehicles, help find the right parts for them, determine best practices in repair, and vindicate warranties. As a result, a long paper trail accompanies most vehicles.
In the world of yesteryear, VIN numbers were difficult to research, as there weren’t any digital options available which collected this information in one place. Today, there is all kind of individual tech gadgets for the car you own, and solutions pertaining to the industry in general when you’re looking to buy.
As VINCheck.info noted, VIN research can give you an idea of the history behind a vehicle. Tech shops on the up-and-up are required by law to note odometer readings when repairs are done, and couple those with updated documentation pertaining to a vehicle. VINCheck helps you figure out where a potential vehicle has been.
Secondary Vehicular Characteristics
Sometimes what the odometer says just doesn’t match with the apparent visual condition of a given vehicle. If you’ve got an odometer reading of 100,000 miles and an undercarriage made of rust, that reading could be low. Or, it could be spot on, and the vehicle has been left alone in a field for too long.
Either way, you probably don’t want it—not unless you’re paying a real bargain on it, and you make your money back in use within a few months’ time. There are other things you can examine like this to help you determine the true age of a vehicle.
Check out the serpentine belt, look for chunks missing. If you see the belt missing pieces, the vehicle is probably at lest near 100k miles, if not 200k or more. Depending on the make and model, belts usually last around that time. Of course, a belt could have been replaced, too; so you’ve got to take that into account.
Additionally, smell for antifreeze and check the oil in the vehicle. Look at the engine, and see how old it appears. Check the transmission. If it takes a while to shift, you’re probably at least over 100k miles, and an odometer that says otherwise may well have been tampered with. Also, check the vehicle’s general performance. An older car usually “feels” that way.
Keeping From Getting Tricked By Unscrupulous Sellers
There are a lot of ways that used car dealers and private sellers will use to trick unsuspecting buyers into putting their money down on a lemon. Don’t be taken in. Understand how to check the VIN number of a prospective vehicle.
Additionally, understand how to check for signs of age in the vehicle itself. There’s one final tip: always get the vehicle’s story—why someone is selling at whatever price they’re selling the vehicle at. The used car dealer or private seller, you need to see if there’s something they’re holding back from you. An approach of this kind will help you avoid getting deceived.