BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Before you buy a used car, you might want to find out if the low mileage is too good to be true.
New York is ranked as one of the states with the highest number of mileage rollbacks. The deceptive and illegal practice of turning back car odometers before they are sold can lead to big time financial losses for the owner.
It can also present safety hazards. High mileage cars often need more maintenance and worn parts can fail unexpectedly.
Martin Jarmuz sold his 1992 Toyota Camry with more than 200,000 miles on it back in July, but it turned up on Craigslist showing only 79,000 miles on the odometer. Jarmuz couldn’t believe it.
But it does happen and a new study shows New Yorkers are more likely to be victims of odometer tampering than the rest of the country. Carfax officials say only California, Nevada, and Massachusetts have worse records for odometer rollbacks.
Carfax spokesman Chris Basso said, “There’s more than 70,000 cars that are on the road, right now throughout New York State that have an odometer rollback. That is costing New York consumers almost a quarter billion dollars in losses.”
And on a national level car owners could be losing as much as three quarters of a billion dollars on the value of their cars due to odometer fraud. If your odometer has been rolled back, chances are you won’t find out until it’s time to sell or trade your vehicle, and by then, it is too late.
Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs says if you catch a rolled back odometer, there are things you can do, such as reporting it to the State DMV, which has an Odometer Crimes Unit.
“But we want folks to know that even if you catch on after a significant period of time, there are measures you can take. It is a federal crime, it is a fraud, it is very serious,” Jacobs said.
And if you thought digital odometers were any tougher to tamper, think again.
Basso explained, “But the digital odometer can actually be easier to rollback. Cars now are a giant computer, and it is as simple as plugging in a device into that computer and literally typing in the new mileage into the odometer reading, changing that within seconds.”
If you suspect odometer fraud, you can call the DMV’s Odometer Crimes Unit at 1-518-473-1079. Carfax also provides free odometer readings which you can purcahse at carfax.com .