Odometer Tampering and Fraud Claims

 

When the odometer of a vehicle is misrepresented, it typically involves fraudulent practices related to the vehicle’s mileage. This can lead to various claims and legal actions, depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the misrepresentation.

Here are some common types of claims and actions that can be pursued in cases of odometer misrepresentation:

  1. Odometer Fraud Claims: Odometer fraud involves intentionally misrepresenting the mileage on a vehicle to increase its apparent value or make it more appealing to buyers. In such cases, a buyer may have legal claims against the seller for the misrepresentation.
  2. Breach of Contract: If there was a written contract or sales agreement that included specific information about the vehicle’s mileage, and the seller knowingly provided false information, the buyer may have a breach of contract claim.
  3. Violations of Federal and State Laws: In the United States, the federal government has the “Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act,” which makes it illegal to tamper with or alter an odometer. State laws also address odometer fraud. Violations of these laws can lead to penalties, fines, and civil liability.
  4. Consumer Protection Laws: Many jurisdictions have consumer protection laws that prohibit deceptive trade practices. Odometer fraud could be considered a violation of these laws, leading to claims and potential legal action.
  5. Tort Claims: In some cases, odometer fraud could lead to tort claims, such as fraud, misrepresentation, or even negligence, if the seller’s actions are deemed reckless or intentional.
  6. Federal Odometer Act (FOA) Claim: In the United States, the Federal Odometer Act (FOA) allows consumers to seek damages for odometer fraud, which includes actual damages or a civil penalty up to three times the amount of actual damages, whichever is greater.
  7. Rescission of the Sale: In some cases, the affected party may seek to rescind the sale, effectively voiding the transaction and returning the vehicle to the seller while recovering the purchase price.

 

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Odometer Fraud

Odometer fraud, also known as “clocking,” refers to the unlawful practice of altering or tampering with the mileage reading of a vehicle’s odometer to make it appear as if the vehicle has traveled fewer miles than it actually has. The purpose of odometer fraud is usually to increase the resale value of the vehicle or to deceive potential buyers into believing that the vehicle has been driven less and is in better condition than it actually is.

Odometer readings are commonly used as an indicator of a vehicle’s condition, value, and potential mechanical problems. By rolling back or manipulating the mileage on an odometer, unscrupulous sellers can make a vehicle appear more desirable and command a higher price.

In the past, odometer fraud typically involved physically tampering with the mechanical odometer mechanism, but with the advent of digital odometers, fraudulent practices have become more sophisticated. Modern digital odometers are more difficult to tamper with directly, but they can be manipulated through electronic means, such as using specialized software or devices.


Odometer fraud is illegal in many jurisdictions due to its deceptive nature and the potential harm it can cause to consumers. It can lead to significant financial losses for buyers who unknowingly purchase vehicles with false mileage readings. Additionally, it undermines trust in the used car market and can create safety risks if a vehicle’s true mileage and maintenance history are unknown.

To protect against odometer fraud, buyers are encouraged to do thorough research on the vehicle’s history, including obtaining a vehicle history report, checking maintenance records, and inspecting the overall condition of the vehicle. They should also be cautious of deals that appear too good to be true, and if possible, have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before making a purchase.

ODOMETER DISCLOSURE STATEMENT Federal law (and State law if applicable) requires that you state the mileage upon transfer of ownership. Failure to complete or providing a false statement may result in fines and/or imprisonment. I, ______________________ (SELLER’S NAME, PRINT) state that the odometer now reads ______________________ (NO TENTHS) miles and to the best of my knowledge that it reflects the actual mileage of the vehicle described below, unless one of the following statements is checked. ☐- (1) I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the odometer reading reflects the amount of mileage in excess of its mechanical limits ☐- (2) I hereby certify that the odometer reading is NOT the actual mileage. WARNING–ODOMETER DISCREPANCY SELLER’S SIGNATURE _________________________________________________ SELLER’S ADDRESS ___________________________________________________ CITY _________________ STATE _________________ ZIP CODE _______________ ACKNOWLEDGING MILEAGE READING AS CERTIFIED BUYER’S SIGNATURE _________________________________________________ BUYER’S ADDRESS ___________________________________________________ CITY _________________ STATE _________________ ZIP CODE _______________

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