Thinking of buying a second-hand vehicle? Buying a second-hand vehicle is risky at the best of times. Second-hand vehicle dealers and sellers have been known to do almost anything to make a sale. Buying a second-hand vehicle comes with its own risks. One risk that is on the rise is odometer fraud. Luckily, the Government has put an extra safety measure to protect buyers from odometer fraud.
What are some of the risks of buying a second-hand vehicle?
Some of the associated risks of buying a second-hand vehicle can be not having a full service and history report of the vehicle. This means that you will not know for sure if the vehicle has been maintained and is in good working condition. Another risk is not knowing if the vehicle is showing its correct odometer reading or if it has been tampered with.
What is Odometer fraud?
Odometer fraud or odometer tampering is the act of rewinding the vehicle’s odometer to shower a lower number than the accurate number. The odometer is a gauge that records the distance travelled by the vehicle. The higher the odometer reading, the greater chance the vehicle has issues. A higher odometer reading will also decrease the value of the vehicle, and this will decrease the number of potential buyers. Second-hand vehicle sellers have been known to rewind the odometer reading of vehicles they are trying to sell. This portrays the false impression that the vehicle engine has not travelled as far, along with increasing the value of the vehicle, helping to make a quick sale.
Is odometer fraud illegal?
Yes. Odometer fraud or tampering is illegal. There are server penalties for anyone, or dealers found to be selling vehicles with false odometer readings. NSW Fair Trading issued 103 penalty notices in 2021 and 2022. This was an increase from 38 total penalties in the previous two years. Each state has its own regulator where if you suspect or know that odometer fraud has been committed, you can report it for investigation.
How to protect yourself against odometer fraud.
It is estimated that in Australia, tens of thousands of vehicles on the road have false odometer readings. It is recommended to go to a reputable vehicle dealer when purchasing a second-hand vehicle. If possible, only purchase a vehicle that comes with a full-service history logbook.
To combat odometer fraud, on the 19th of June, 2023, the NSW Government launched a new feature that will allow you to look up a vehicle’s last three odometer readings. This new feature is in the “check vehicles registration” section on the Services NSW website and app. When you look up a vehicle’s registration, the website and app will display the vehicle’s last 3 odometer readings. It is worth noting that only vehicles that are older than 5 years will have their odometer readings displayed.
Will this be effective?
One can imagine that this new feature will be enormously effective. However, currently, it is too early to know just how effective this will be. This new free feature that is available to everyone will clearly be an asset to anyone who is looking to buy a second-hand vehicle. It will assist in reducing the number of vehicles sold with odometer fraud.
In conclusion, odometer fraud is on the rise. Many buyers have become victims of this old trick and get stuck with a vehicle that they have overpaid for. The NSW Government has worked on cracking down on odometer fraud, along with providing the public with a way to check if a vehicle is showing a correct odometer reading. With this new feature available to the public, hopefully, odometer fraud will decrease, and the likely hood of people being tricked into buying a vehicle with a false odometer reading will decrease.