NHTSA Requires Odometer Statements Up to 20 Years

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai
nhtsa requires odometer statements up to 20 years

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.

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.

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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5 of 36 comments
  • JMII JMII on Dec 23, 2020

    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!

    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Dec 23, 2020

      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.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Dec 23, 2020

    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?

    • See 1 previous
    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Dec 23, 2020

      @28-Cars-Later 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.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.