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Car Buyers Beware: Keep an Eye Out for Odometer Fraud

» Posted November 5, 2018Resources | Share This Post

Federal authorities are warning car buyers to be aware of scammers trying to sell vehicles with more mileage than their odometers show. It’s one of many types of shady tactics that some car sellers use to try to dupe people into purchasing potentially defective vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in September issued a consumer advisory stemming from two recent cases of odometer fraud. NHTSA wants car buyers to understand that some sellers may tamper with a vehicle’s odometer to make it seem like the car has less mileage.

“We will not tolerate the illegal practice of odometer tampering,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said.  She added that federal authorities “are committed to bringing individuals who commit this crime to justice.”

Federal authorities recommend that car buyers compare the mileage on the title to that on the odometer before making a purchase. They also say buyers should look at maintenance and inspection records for mileage information and the vehicle and tires for wear and tear.

Criminal Cases

NHTSA’s advisory highlighted the convictions of two Mississippi men who plead guilty to what the agency called “a large-scale vehicle odometer rollback scheme.” The father and son duo bought a large number of older vehicles and then dialed back the odometers, according to prosecutors.

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles man was charged in October in an alleged scheme to hack car computers to dial back odometers.

Those types of fraud cost American car consumers as much as $1 billion a year, according to NHTSA.

Protections for Los Angeles Car Buyers

Odometer fraud is unfortunately far from the only way that some car sellers try to get over on their customers. The good news for motorists in Los Angeles is that they have some legal protections in the event they get stuck with a defective vehicle.

The California Lemon Law requires car makers to repair various defects and other problems with the vehicle while it’s under warranty. If that doesn’t work, the manufacturer is obligated under the law to compensate the owner for the purchase price and/or down payment and financing charges, as well as other expenses like car rentals, towing and repair costs. The manufacturer may also offer to replace the car instead.

Talk With an Experienced Los Angeles Lemon Law attorney

If you’re a California car owner with a defective vehicle, it’s important that you consult an experienced lawyer to consider your rights and options. The California Lemon Law attorneys at the Bickel Law Firm have represented hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state. Our lawyers work aggressively to resolve these cases for the people that we represent.

Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.


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"I was having a reoccurring problem with my vehicle that the dealer couldn't seem to fix and when I contacted the manufacturer they were not willing to help me at all, so I contacted the Bickel law firm. This law firm knows what they are doing and will tell you honestly whether you have a case or not. I highly recommend that you give them a try."

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