Rolled-back odometers are rarely an issue with vehicles sold by OMVIC-Registered Dealers, in part, because the possible ramifications can be severe; however rolled-back odometers are frequently problematic with vehicles sold by curbsiders and even from some dishonest private sellers.
Devices capable of reprogramming the odometer in many of today’s computerized vehicles are readily available online for a few hundred dollars. As well, unscrupulous individuals advertise “odometer correction services” on many online marketplaces. These easily accessible methods unfortunately mean vehicles with rolled-back odometers are increasingly offered for sale online. Therefore, consumers buying a vehicle privately must be extra vigilant.
Spot a Roll-Back
Identifying a vehicle with an altered odometer can be very difficult, however there are steps consumers can take that may help spot them.
Utilize reports that contain historical odometer information/readings
A Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) available from ServiceOntario or a CARFAX history report may contain historical odometer readings. Carefully review these reports before agreeing to turn over any money to a private seller. Note: Private sellers in Ontario are required by law to provide a UVIP to the purchaser, however, a purchaser may want to obtain his/her own. OMVIC is aware of instances in which a seller altered a UVIP to remove odometer or lien information. Additionally, as the odometer readings reported on the UVIP are unverified, minor discrepancies (i.e. a reported reading that is slightly higher than what is shown on the odometer) can exist and do not indicate an actual roll back.
Have the vehicle inspected
A pre-purchase inspection by an experienced mechanic/technician may uncover evidence (e.g. unusual wear) that indicates a roll-back. An inspection can also alert a buyer to mechanical issues the seller did not disclose or was not aware of.
Learn to spot warning signs
Vehicles with rolled-back odometers can display signs of advanced wear that are inconsistent with the supposed mileage. Depending on the mileage, this could include:
- Worn upholstery or steering wheel
- Worn suspension components
- Pitted/sand-blasted looking windshield
- Worn rubber pad(s) on brake/gas/clutch pedal(s)
Failure by a registered dealer to disclose that a vehicle’s odometer does not reflect the true distance a vehicle has travelled is grounds for rescission within 90 days of delivery. Consumers who suspect the odometer of the vehicle purchased from an OMVIC-Registered Dealer has been rolled back, should contact OMVIC’s Complaints & Inquiries Team. Consumers who purchase a rolled-back vehicle from a curbsider or private seller are not protected by OMVIC. Often the only recourse for private purchasers is to find the seller and sue civilly.
For more information on how to protect yourself when buying a vehicle privately, click here.