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OMVIC Blog: Car Buying Tips

How to protect yourself from odometer fraud

Nov 22

Written by: OMVIC Communications
Monday, November 22, 2021  RssIcon

Rolling back a vehicle’s odometer to display a lower mileage than it has travelled is known as “odometer fraud”. It may be done to increase the sale price of a used car and this issue is often problematic in vehicles sold by dishonest private sellers and illegal, unlicensed vehicle dealers, referred to as curbsiders.

Identifying a vehicle with a rolled-back odometer can be difficult, however, there are steps consumers can take to help spot an odometer that has been tampered with.

Get a Used Vehicle Information Package

A Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) available from ServiceOntario or a CARFAX vehicle history report may contain historical odometer readings, so it’s important to carefully review these reports before purchasing a vehicle.

Private sellers in Ontario are required by law to provide a UVIP to the purchaser. However, consumers may want to obtain their own report independent from the seller to ensure odometer information has not been removed. As UVIPs disclose self-reported and unverified mileage, they can also be inconsistent with the true distance travelled. If the odometer reading is not written down or easily accessible, sellers will provide an estimate, leading to a possible error in reporting.

Have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a professional

Vehicles with rolled-back odometers can display signs of advanced wear that are inconsistent with the reported mileage. Depending on the mileage, this could include:

  • Excessively worn upholstery or steering wheel
  • Worn suspension components
  • Pitted/sand-blasted looking windshield
  • Worn rubber pad(s) on brake/gas/clutch pedal(s)

Having the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a professional before you make the purchase can help spot the warning signs of odometer fraud. A pre-purchase inspection performed by an experienced mechanic or technician should be written into a purchase agreement as a condition of sale. If it’s not included in the purchase agreement, the dealer is not obligated to fulfil the request for inspection and if they refuse, the consumer is still bound to the sale.

How OMVIC can help

It’s important to remember that consumer protection rights only apply to consumers who have purchased a vehicle from an OMVIC-registered dealer. If a registered dealer fails to disclose that a vehicle’s odometer does not reflect the true distance it has travelled, consumers have a right to cancel their contract within 90 days of delivery. Consumers who purchase a rolled-back vehicle from a curbsider or private seller are not protected by OMVIC, and often their only recourse is to find the seller and sue civilly.

Consumers who suspect the odometer of a vehicle purchased from an OMVIC-registered dealer has been rolled back should contact OMVIC’s consumer support team at consumers@omvic.on.ca or by calling 1-800-943-6002.

 

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