I had a conversation with someone the other day who claimed his mechanic rolled back the odometer on his car. This is a late-model car with a digital odometer. I always thought digital odometers were protected from this, but a quick Google search reveals that it’s actually quite common and easy to roll back a digital odometer. I guess this is now something a buyer has to worry about on top of everything else when buying a used car.
For example, how could you ever tell a car was rolled back — say, 10,000 miles — when the car is legitimately in good condition?
What are your thoughts on this? And how can a buyer protect themselves?
My thoughts are simple: as mentioned in previous Piston Slaps, get a PPI if you’re worried about buying a misleading motor. Carfax might catch an odometer discrepancy — paste the VIN here to check. You really need a PPI for peace of mind, and if a truck, van, etc. isn’t necessary (and you have
good some credit and five figures to drop) buy a new, entry-level sedan that’s being disposed of at loss leader prices.
You can indeed put a price on your peace of mind, even if it means owning a vehicle you’d rather not be seen in. The threat is real — older digital units are re-programmable with a chip swap, as this video shows. There’s also an OBD-II tool you can plug in for “mileage correction.” Or, in the case of this VW Bora (Jetta), there’s an app for that.
Buyer beware, it’s a brave new world. Get a PPI, learn the basics of used car inspection, and do a VIN check on Carfax.