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Consumer Alert: Make Sure Your Car Hasn't Gone the Extra Mile

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning consumers to be on the look out for used cars with tampered odometers. (SDRandCo/Morguefile.com)
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is warning consumers to be on the look out for used cars with tampered odometers. (SDRandCo/Morguefile.com)
March 3, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An estimated 10,000 vehicles are on Tennessee roads that have tampered odometers.

Changing the mileage on a car is one way con artists get folks to pay more than the vehicle is worth or to sell them a vehicle that is unsafe.

Kevin Walters, spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, says often you can tell something might be off just by looking at the vehicle.

"If the car looks like it is in a worse shape than what the odometer would suggest that the car would be in based on the mileage," he says. "That's a tip off that you might be dealing with someone who is tampering the odometer."

Other warning signs include numbers on dial odometers that aren't aligned evenly, or flashing numbers on digital odometers.

In addition, if the vehicle identification number, or VIN, on the corner of the dashboard doesn't match that listed on the inside door jam, that is another sign.

Walters adds odometer tampering is a criminal offense and if you suspect you've been a victim you should report it immediately to authorities.

Walters says even though technology has made it more difficult to tamper with mileage, scammers are always looking for ways around the system.

"The fraudsters and the scam artists and the people who are out there to take advantage of you are always keeping up on the latest technology," he says. "They're always trying to find a way out of the mouse trap that we try to build."

The average car will accumulate 15,000 miles a year.

If you are considering a used car and its mileage is considerably less than its age would indicate, it might be good to ask additional questions of the seller.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN