PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Every day, nearly 200 million miles are traveled on Arizona’s roads. Some fast. And some are much slower. Mile after mile, the odometers are spinning. Or do they?
A 3 On Your Side investigation found that not all of these miles appear on vehicles for sale because the miles have disappeared. “So it’s a nice truck. What year is it? 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked Russel Brown. “It’s a 2008 Chevy Silverado,” Russel replied.
Russel is about to use this pickup to spill some dirty little secrets about used vehicles. And although the practice has been around for years, the methods scammers use today are quite different. “It seems that odometer fraud is quite widespread. Can you tell me about it? Harper asked. “Oh, that’s pretty easy to do.”
He is right. Using a small device, Russel plugs it into the port found on all vehicles and resets this truck’s odometer to 89,000 miles. You’ll see it brings it down to just 49,000 miles. It’s sometimes hard to detect, depending on how far back the odometer is,” he said.
3 On Your Side will illustrate more examples in a moment. But first, let’s look at some statistics from Arizona. Carfax says the Phoenix metro area ranks 10th in the nation for rolling back the odometers of at least 36,500 vehicles traveling with incorrect mileage. Emilie Voss is with Carfax. “Even more concerning is that the percentage jump we’ve seen from 2020 to 2021 is that Phoenix has had the biggest jump compared to any city in the country,” she said. declared.
And Emilie says if you think mileage manipulation has only happened in the past, think again. Do you remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “We get these images of getting in the car and rolling back the old analog odometers,” she said, referencing the film. But these new electronics are so easy to manipulate and it could cost a car thousands of dollars’ worth.
Back to Russell. He’s a legit and reputable electronics expert who runs a valley company that fixes broken gauges like electronic odometers and speedometers. However, he says he’s cautious about returning broken odometers to correct-mileage consumers using that little device we showed you earlier. “I bought it off Amazon and paid $300-$400,” Russel said of the little gadget.
But scammers are now buying the same device to scam unsuspecting used-car buyers. Check the clock and watch in real time how 159,000 miles on the odometer is reduced to just 59,000 miles in just five seconds.
And the machine allows scammers to enter any number they want. Russell even jokingly drove almost a million miles, to bring the odometer down to 64,996. Russel said: “It obviously adds value to the vehicle. How much depends on the vehicle. It depends a lot on the quantity and the vehicle.
And scammers also use another method to reduce mileage, especially on older vehicles. First, they remove the cluster, which is the panel containing all the gauges. Then they go to a junkyard, buy a bunch of a similar vehicle with fewer miles, and install it. “If you install it and it doesn’t do what it expects, the cluster isn’t working properly. These are the newer vehicles. But on older vehicles, this is not the case.
So how do you know if the car you want to buy has the right mileage? The first step is to take it to a reliable store like Allen’s Auto, which can detect possible odometer fraud by checking to see if the mileage matches the condition of the car. “We’re going to put the car in the air and inspect it,” Allen’s Auto’s Mike McCarty told 3 On Your Side. “We’re making sure the suspension and exhaust are good. We’ll scan it with a computer for codes. We’ll look to see if the data has been deleted.
Carfax also has a free tool that will allow you to run a vehicle’s VIN to see if it matches previous records. You can find it at www.carfax.com/odo.
So before buying a new vehicle and hitting the road, do your research. The last thing you want is a car that has a lot more wear than you think. Emilie said: “We hear these stories from people who find out about it too late. It’s important to do your homework from the start and not feel the pressure of today’s used car market to act too quickly.
For more information on odometer fraud, go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/odometer-fraud
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