You have been figuring out budgets and saving for a while, and the day is here: it’s time to pick out a new vehicle. You find the ideal car, truck or SUV at the local dealership. There are a few things that don’t seem to add up: the car’s floor mat on the driver’s side looks pretty worn and the numbers in the dash display for the odometer don’t line up perfectly, but the dealer convinces you the vehicle has really low mileage and you’re reading too much into it.
You take the vehicle home. Within a couple of weeks, it isn’t driving as smoothly as it was. You request a vehicle history report and find out it has far more miles on it than you were told when you bought it. As a result, problems arise mechanically, and the vehicle that you thought you loved turns into a money pit where you have to decide between fixing the next thing to go wrong and paying the utility bills.
This isn’t where you wanted to be with your new vehicle. Sadly you, like many other vehicle buyers, have been made the victim of odometer fraud.
There are ways to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, if vehicle shopping is on your to-do list. The first thing to do, when considering a vehicle, is to ask to see the title. Compare the mileage written on the title with the display in the vehicle itself. The two should match, or the display should show a number that is reasonably different from the number written on the title.
Next, check the maintenance records. Keep in mind that digital odometers can be altered to display lower mileage, which can mislead you to the age and current value of the vehicle you are about to pay to take home with you.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked odometer fraud questions, click here.
Another way to determine whether the vehicle’s odometer has been adjusted is by examining the tires. Consider the miles displayed on the odometer and see if the tires show considerable wear. If they do, there is a chance that someone has not changed the tires but did do some changing when it comes to the odometer display in the dash.
Like the tires, the vehicle itself can show wear and tear if it has been driven a lot. Therefore, if the vehicle looks a bit more worn than you expect yet has a really low reading on the odometer, it is possible that odometer fraud has occurred.
Finally, before you sign any paperwork, request the vehicle history report. The various details you would want to know about the vehicle are available there, in black and white. That way, if someone did try to get more money out of a used vehicle by adjusting the odometer, you won’t be the one who falls victim to the scam.
Keep in mind that an average driver travels 13,500 miles per year in their vehicle. This is an important metric for anyone purchasing a used vehicle. If the vehicle is more than three years old and isn’t sporting more than 40,000 miles, there may be a potential issue. Maybe the original (or previous) owners did not drive the average each year. However, the dealer will be aware of this unique situation and be able to explain to you the unicorn you see before you.
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There are obvious signs of tampering with the odometer, which can include pry marks on the dashboard in the area of the odometer or something that appears off-kilter with the odometer display. There is also the issue of screws missing in the dashboard assembly. Look for these signs and beware a potential scam if any of the above are apparent.
It is also important to pay a visit to a mechanic you trust and have them look over the vehicle. There are some parts that need to be changed after 60,000 miles, for example. Your mechanic can check these parts and give you a rough estimate of whether they are new or nearing the point where they need to be changed. Either status will give you a semi-accurate idea of the miles the vehicle has driven.
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Mileage is also recorded on the vehicle control module. Therefore, if the opportunity presents itself, it is wise to check this also and see if the two numbers match when it comes to odometer readings.
In the event that you fall victim to odometer fraud, there may be a way to recoup your losses. If the vehicle is defective and the defect not only decreases the vehicle value but also puts the driver’s life at risk, the Texas Lemon Law may be the solution.
Are you a victim of odometer fraud? Contact Allen Stewart today.
The Texas Lemon Law is overseen by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. The law protects a vehicle owner who purchased said vehicle within the state’s borders and has made multiple attempts to have the vehicle defect fixed, with no success.
For those who purchase a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle or electric vehicle from a dealer or manufacturer and the vehicle is covered by the original warranties, there is hope. The vehicle must also be within the first 24,000 miles driven or the first 24 months of ownership – whichever point occurs first in the timeline.
Vehicle owners who have proof they have made four or more attempts to have the vehicle repaired, have reached out to the manufacturer to let them know the defect persists despite these multiple attempts (and has proof to that effect) and has seen their vehicle sit idle for 30 days or more during that first 24,000 miles or 24 months, can be reasonably assured their vehicle fits lemon law criteria.
It is wise to consult a lemon law attorney if you are at this point, as the process of gathering evidence, filing a lemon law complaint and then navigating mediation and possibly a hearing can be handled more easily with the assistance of an experienced and successful lemon law lawyer.
If you think you have been a victim of odometer fraud, contact Allen Stewart. The consultation is free.
The Lemon Law process cuts down on the time spent fighting for justice in the event your vehicle is a lemon. Still, it is wise to work with a professional to cut down on the time you need to spend preparing and gathering evidence to prove your side of the case.
In the event the case is found in your favor, there are three possible outcomes: the vehicle is repurchased by the manufacturer/dealer, the vehicle is replaced with one of similar value, again by the manufacturer/dealer or the vehicle is repaired on the manufacturer’s dime. The individuals assigned to oversee the case determine this outcome, if the manufacturer does not agree to a resolution in mediation.
Vehicle owners that are tied down with a vehicle that causes more trouble than it resolves can be reassured that the state of Texas has your back. Contact a legal representative today to get the ball rolling on a lemon law complaint. That way, you are a step closer to a resolution and can be sure to look for signs of fraud in the future and avoid this situation repeating itself. No one likes to learn the hard way, but at least the right lemon law attorney can make sure you get compensated for the hassle.