Protect Yourself from Odometer Fraud
Friday, November 1, 2019
At two a.m. on Sunday, November 3rd, Daylight Savings Time will officially end. We mark this event by turning our clocks back and getting in one more hour of sleep.
Only Daylight Savings Time–and of course, Cher–can turn back time, but there is a nefarious group who also tries to do it: curbsiders– illegal, unlicensed vehicle dealers who roll back odometers to increase the value of the vehicles they’re selling.
"We have seen a huge uptick in the number of vehicles with rolled-back odometers sold by curbsiders. For just a few hundred dollars, a curbsider can roll back the odometer of a vehicle and increase its value by thousands of dollars.” States OMVIC’s Director of Communications, Terry O’Keefe. In some extreme cases, O’Keefe says he’s seen cars with odometers rolled back as much as 300,000 km.
The Safer Way to Buy
Buying from an OMVIC-Registered dealer offers protections that buying from a private seller doesn't.
Dealers must disclose the true distance a vehicle has travelled. If they fail to do so, it automatically triggers the customers’ right to rescission—cancelling the contract, returning the vehicle and getting all their money back within ninety days of the date of delivery.
Consumer Protection Act gives the consumer one year from the date of signing the contract to file for rescission, if there is a false, misleading or deceptive representation, (e.g. you were told the car had 150,000 km when it actually had 300,000 km).
Buying Privately? How to 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.
1. A Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) available from ServiceOntario or a CarFax history report 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 UVIP pages have been deliberately left out and/or altered to remove odometer or lien information. 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 rollback.
2.Have the vehicle inspected. A pre-purchase inspection by an experienced mechanic/technician may uncover evidence (i.e. unusual wear) that indicates a rollback. An inspection can also alert the buyer to mechanical issues the seller did not disclose or is not aware of.
3.Learn to recognize the 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)
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 1-800-943-6002 ext. 3942
As the regulator of motor vehicle sales in Ontario, OMVIC’s mandate is to maintain a fair and informed marketplace by protecting the rights of consumers, enhancing industry professionalism and ensuring fair, honest and open competition for registered motor vehicle dealers. Visit omvic.ca to learn more about your car-buying rights as well as additional tips for buying a car in Ontario.
For car buying tips, check out the OMVIC Academy. You can view other resources such as multilingual videos and download the OMVIC Car-buying Guide.
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