Odometer Rollback Complaints Have Increased Threefold

PARMA, Ohio - An old scam is popping up again, but with a whole new look, 19/43 News' Rick Jackson reported.

The state of Ohio said that odometer rollback complaints on used cars were up threefold in 2001 when compared to the previous year.

Most dealers guarantee that the low mileage on their used cars is legitimate, but if you buy over the Internet, the chances of tampering increase dramatically.

"There are products sold on the Internet that allow anyone to roll back even a digital odometer," Jack Gillis, author of "The Car Book," said.

Buyers and dealers with whom 19/43 News talked said that they had no idea that digital odometers could be rolled back, and it's even easier to do the tampering with old mechanical ones.

"It's pretty scary knowing somebody could bring a car in that has for example 30,000 miles on it that might really have 130,000," car dealer Don Hall said.

19/43 News found 75 sites on the Web selling kits that make big promises like being able to "recalibrate your odometer to your requirement" and that there's "no limit to the type, year or model."

Another site said that it's "easy money" to rollback the odometer of a car by thousands of miles and then sell the vehicle for a lot more than it's really worth. The process, of course, is highly illegal.

"The money difference on that could be a couple grand," Hall said.

The Internet does, however, provide several sites, including Carfax, that will run checks on the vehicle's real history so that you could protect yourself.