By on December 22, 2020

NHTSA odometer disclosure

NHTSA, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, issued a reminder that starting January 1, 2021, every vehicle ownership transfer will require an odometer statement for the first 20 years.

NHTSA odometer disclosure

Odometer disclosures will be required for every transfer of ownership for the first 20 years, beginning with Model Year 2011 vehicles.  Model year 2010 and older vehicles will still be subject to the previous 10-year disclosure requirements, and are exempt from the new extended Federal odometer disclosure requirements.

Why the change in odometer readings? With the U.S. vehicle fleet aging, NHTSA finalized this Final Rule in September 2019 to combat what it saw as increasing odometer fraud, especially with older vehicles.

 

NHTSA odometer disclosure

Odometer fraud is a Federal crime and NHTSA has for decades required sellers to disclose odometer readings at the time of sale. In most states, vehicle transfers were subject to a requirement that odometer disclosures be made in a paper format with handwritten names and wet-ink signatures. Establishing standards where states may allow for odometer disclosures electronically with increased security and authentication, it removed the paper requirement. This action also removed the last remaining Federal impediment to paperless motor vehicle transfers.

By removing the need for paper documents, this allowed state Departments of Motor Vehicles to move toward paperless transactions, a cost reduction and time saver for consumers and the industry, meant to create economic efficiencies and improve security.

“This Final Rule was written after considering comments received from the public, including state motor vehicle departments,” NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said. “As more records are kept digitally, this rule will allow electronic filing of odometer information. Electronic records are more efficient than paper documentation and are harder to forge, helping to prevent fraud.”

Prior to the ruling, the law didn’t require odometer disclosures for vehicle transfers at least 10 model years old. With the current average vehicle age of almost 12 years, a large proportion of cars in operation were subject to increased odometer fraud risks. The Final Rule will now require odometer statements until vehicles are 20 years old, beginning with the 2010 model year.

To comply with Federal law, anyone transferring ownership of a model-year 2011 or newer vehicle will be required to provide an odometer disclosure to the new owner, and sellers of model-year 2011 vehicles must continue until 2031.

[Images: NHTSA, © 2020 J. Sakurai/TTAC]

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36 Comments on “NHTSA Requires Odometer Statements Up to 20 Years...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The gauge cluster in that first picture is terrible. (It looks like something GM might produce if you put a Chrysler guy in charge of product development.)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The aging fleet plus rising transaction prices is further evidence of the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots.

    Only people with decent or better income are able to afford a new car, and they aren’t buying the economy model. Meanwhile, everyone else buys used, and today’s better built cars allow for a 2005 car to still be running today.

    The mfrs should be worried, but maybe the goal now is to just try to take a bigger slice of the pie since the pie isn’t growing.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “maybe the goal now is to just try to take a bigger slice of the pie since the pie isn’t growing.”

      This is precisely what I predict would happen. Regulate affordable ICEs out of existence, and while EV may grow its still too expensive with a lot of drawbacks which I do not changing in the next several years. I believe Peak Oil may be behind this drastic shift.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      IF new IC engines are banned or taxed out of existence, the endgame whether intentional or not will be that the top 33% can afford to buy some form of used or new EV.

      Everyone else will be using mass transit, a 25 y.o. ICE car, or an Uber….whether piloted by a human or AI.

      probably will see it in Europe and Japa 10 years before it hits the US….unless voters revolt.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This is precisely what is intended. I have been saying it on and off for the past two years.

        Elysium is the end game.

      • 0 avatar

        “unless voters revolt.”

        Voters are not relevant anymore. AI, modern SW and vote manipulation technics allows any person supported by big money and big tech to win “elections” as we observed recently. Recent election was just a proof of concept. The plan is to take cars, guns and houses away prom ordinary people, bankrupt small businesses and implant control/surveillance chip in every lesser brain while important people will live forever pleasant lives with enhanced genes.

        • 0 avatar
          N8iveVA

          oh take your tinfoil hat off. The “Recent election” is legitimate.

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Beranek

          Modern voting machines are essentially just printers. You chose your candidates on the touchscreen and the machine prints a paper ballot that you can verify by looking at it.
          Not much of an opening for fraud when the paper ballots can be recounted, which is exactly what happened in Wisconsin and Georgia.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Because erroneous paper ballots cannot be added into the system, especially when they are being accepted by mail from anyone. Unpossible.

            Allowing mail ballots en masse introduced some level of fraud, be it 0.1% or 50%. Whether this alone was enough to sway things, I do not know. What I do know is a lot of effort was put into the events of this year, the better question from “Who won?” is “Given events, what is the end game?”.

          • 0 avatar

            Of course not. Ballots were printed in China already correctly filled for your convenience so you do not make mistakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Bear in mind, those future bans are decades away, when the slobbering politicians who made them to curry favor with certain groups now will be long out of office. They won’t be around to live up to those promises.

        The groups they pandered to will also likely be replaced by other pressure groups with different mandates/demands, so take it all with a shaker full of salt – according to the latest research, your blood pressure won’t be affected (by the salt, that is).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    If people are clocking these things its because they are hacking the ECU, so Fedgov is this nascent admission that you can’t do anything about it?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Actually, I think this is a good idea. Cars last longer and there is more incentive than ever to cheat people by clocking the cars. And frankly, while it takes more effort, no scratch that, a higher level of knowledge to “clock” today’s vehicles, it is still not that difficult to do. Maybe as an electrical engineer I am a bit biased (no pun intended) but finding somebody to do this can’t be that hard if there is enough economic incentive. This program adds to the difficulty and has no impact otherwise, so why not?

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      We should clamp down on the bad puns – that’s enough Faraday.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Clamp down on the electrical engineer? That’s what a mechanical engineer would say! LOL

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          If clamp is ME, would a crowbar be EE or ME? (I have some reluctance in gauging the continuity of this discussion, as it has the potential to transform into an avalanche.)

          [Anyway, wire you so concerned with the current topic? Wait – watt?]

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I’m shocked that anyone would clock a car.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It is easier than ever, if you have the right tools. No need to remove the cluster or have the wire bent just so to slide up in the cluster and pull off the miles.

      The factory level scan tool can change it but you have to change more than just the instrument cluster as the mileage is also recorded in the PCM and problems can arise if they don’t match up. But to be able to replace the instrument cluster or the PCM a way to set the mileage is built into the factory scan tools.

      However you can fool the instrument cluster and PCM into thinking they are on the same page when they are not.

      A couple of years ago I read an article about a guy in Europe who bought a car and when it was at the mechanic getting another issue looked into they found a circuit board jumpered in between the harness and the cluster. Closer inspection of the circuit board revealed it was meant for the types of cars that are usually corperate leases. There was a row of pads, designed to be bridged with solder. Next to the pads were things like A4, Wxxx, BMW.

      So apparently this device interrupted the signal to the instrument cluster and “lost” counts on the way to the cluster and found them again when sending signals back to the PCM.

      It was removed and once the car was restarted the instrument cluster said WTF and started displaying the higher number than was retained in the PCM.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    If you are buying an 18 year old car, how relevant is mileage at that point? Condition is all that matters. Does Blue Book pricing change appreciably in that market based on mileage?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Electronically clocking the ECU may be technically feasible. However, here in PA mileage is tracked twice year by the state DOT. Once during the annual inspection and again during annual registration as well as by a lot of repair shops and during dealer service.
    This record puts a car owner who clocks an odometer at legal risk unless he is sophisticated enough to nibble miles off between inspections or reported services. Could be useful for someone who leases and will invest the time to periodically trim the mileage to keep under the lease mileage limits

  • avatar
    spookiness

    This seems reasonable.

  • avatar
    Dan

    All of the public and private rackets by which the buyers of old beaters get hosed and the feds are going to swoop in and save them from once in a blue moon odometer fraud? On vehicles where mileage literally doesn’t change their value? Please.

    This is laying the groundwork for tax by the mile. No more and no less.

  • avatar
    JMII

    What happens when these screens or displays fail and you can’t read the digital odometer? I had VW where the pixel display died after only 5 years!

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      A scan tool can read the mileage from the instrument cluster, the PCM and any other module that keeps track. Of course the average person doesn’t have one of those when it comes time to sell.

      Also I doubt that they have dropped the box from the form that states that it is inoperative or incorrect.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Serious question: what actually happens in an odometer disclosure form if the odometer has been replaced and isn’t counting up correctly anymore?

    A friend of mine used to have a bombed out Blazer with the earlier electronic dashboard that kept going out. He replaced it with junkyard units.

    Is it possible to reprogram the electronic units to accurately reflect mileage, or does it involve a doorjamb sticker?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      It gets a title brand from the state. The brand PA used/uses is TRUE MILEAGE UNKNOWN or “TMU”.

      “Is it possible to reprogram the electronic units to accurately reflect mileage, or does it involve a doorjamb sticker?”

      I believe so, at least on early to mid 00s. I heard stories about people doing that at the time, one claimed the dealer had a tool which could reprogram the mileage and if you knew so and so and paid X, someone would clock it for you. I can’t personally confirm this was true though.

      The 80s/early 90s GM dashboard were all suspect, when they were newer and something went out you had to go to the dealer for the sticker (don’t know if the state was ever told though). We had this POS 89 Buick Regal (powered by Our Lord) with an odo which simply stopped on 94000. It was used as a runner for a while and then we sold it to g-d knows who. I don’t recall if it was title branded or not, certainly should have been but by mid 00s I doubt anyone cared.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Our family’s 84 Chrysler New Yorker had its cluster die a very early death. The new cluster had a digital * next to the numbers, which now were all zeros. A door jamb sticker said the cluster was replaced and the date/mileage were written in pen. That was it…when it was sold the buyer didn’t even give the * in the cluster a second thought.

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