Odometer rollbacks putting used car buyers in Oklahoma at risk

TULSA, Okla. — A tool that allows people to reprogram a digital odometer used to cost thousands of dollars but can now be had on Amazon for as little as $200.

Tools like those can be used to roll back an odometer before someone sells their used car.

Carfax estimates that more than 12,100 vehicles driving on Oklahoma roads have had their odometers rolled back – including 4,300 in the Tulsa area alone.

Carfax says con artists can watch YouTube videos to use the tool that reprograms the car’s meter as mechanics do use the tool for its intended purpose to adjust a car’s mileage.

Neal Zarn of Zarn Automotive says vehicles have come through his shop in Broken Arrow that have had an unusual amount of wear and tear on features likes radio buttons, armrests or brake pedals despite a lower odometer reading.

As a demonstration, Josh Ingle of Atlanta Speedometer demonstrated how the tool is used by rolling back a 2007 Chevy Silverado’s odometer from 265,000 to 85,000, increasing the Carfax value of the truck by $8,500.

According to Oklahoma law, a car seller doesn’t have to fill out an odometer disclosure statement when selling a car that’s more than nine years old.

Carfax says anyone changing an odometer reading to sell a car for more than it’s worth is breaking federal law.

Carfax recommends taking the following steps before buying a used car:

  1. Pull a Carfax report to track the mileage and find any flagged reports of a car’s mileage taking a dip.
  2. Take the car for an independent inspection with a certified mechanic who can make sure the odometer reading matches the onboard computer.
  3. Take the car for a test drive and look for any unusual signs of wear and tear.

Carfax estimates odometer rollbacks cost car buyers more than $1 billion in value every year.

See how you can check a vehicle’s odometer reading here.

Anyone looking to report a problem can fill out the Oklahoma Attorney General’s consumer complaint form here.