When you are in the market for a used car, it is important to know how many miles it has run. Unscrupulous sellers know it is possible to alter the reading on the odometer.
In fact, the Consumer Federation of America estimates that up to one in ten used cars have their odometer rolled back, a practice called “clocking” or “spinning.” This practice is illegal in all states, but it is hard for the average consumer to detect. Even digital odometers can be easily tampered with using devices made for recalibrating broken digital odometers.
If you are looking at a car that you believe has an odometer that has been set back, take a moment to inspect the brake pedal. If the pad has worn through to the metal beneath, it is a good indication that it has excessive miles. You may also want to lift up the floor mat under the brake and accelerator pedals to look for wear. If the driver’s seat is also very worn, it can mean that there are excessive miles on the car.
Examine the instrument panel closely. If it looks as if it has been tampered with, you should not purchase the vehicle. You may see fingerprints or scratches on the interior of the plastic cover or the numbers may not be aligned. Even without these clues, the vehicle may have been tampered with.
Finally, you can also request a CARFAX report on the vehicle. This can be ordered either by the seller or the buyer. To be absolutely sure, you should plan on having any used car professionally inspected by a qualified mechanic before purchasing.