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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

What Are The Penalties For Tampering With An Odometers?

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A vehicle loses value as the miles add up on the odometer. Therefore, one common tactic to sell a vehicle and make more money is to adjust the odometer to show fewer miles than the vehicle has actually been driven. There are many used vehicle dealers who follow this practice, more focused on the bottom line and increasing the profit than any potential danger to customers.

For someone who purchased the vehicle and has found it to be defective, the adjustment of the odometer may be an indication that the vehicle could have more defects than initially expected. It is a good idea to have a vehicle looked over by a mechanic you trust before you purchase, primarily to avoid situations like these.


There are a few different ways to determine whether the vehicle has had its odometer adjusted, which is an illegal practice but still very common. The first is that the display in the vehicle does not match with vehicle records, such as maintenance and/or inspection records. These records should show a normal progression of mileage and no decrease. Another way to check the mileage is to get a vehicle history report, which shows faulty odometer settings, should they be present.

Another way to determine if odometer tampering has occurred is physical markings in the vehicle itself. For example, gaps between the numbers, numbers that are crooked or that are hard to read. Another indication would be wear and tear on the pedals, tires or seat of the car that indicates it has been driven significantly more than the mileage would show.

For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked odometer tampering questions, click here.

If these signs are apparent, then it is wise to walk away from the sale. This is not worth your time or the potential future hassle and expense if the vehicle has a defect, which is being hidden through odometer adjustments.

There are plenty of opportunities to find a reliable vehicle, so walking away from a shady sale does not mean that you’re destined to keep walking the rest of your life.

It is also worth noting that, provided there is proof of tampering, there are potential consequences for the individuals involved in the con or the physical tampering.

The penalties for tampering with the odometer in Texas include: confinement to the county jail for no more than two years or a fine not to exceed $1,000. The penalty may also be a combination of jail time and a fine. If the individual is found guilty of tampering with the odometer after previously being convicted of the same, the sentence is no less than 30 days or more than two years and a fine of up to $2,000. This shows that a history of this type of behavior can exist, but it does lead to further penalties.

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Anyone who ends up with a vehicle that has had the odometer tampered with can have the assurance that the legal system supports punishing those who committed the crime – provided the proof is available that the crime was committed.

How to get a certified auto fraud lawyers? Contact Allen Stewart today.

However, for those who cannot prove that odometer tampering occurred, it might be worth looking into the criteria for the Texas Lemon Law, which provides protection for an auto owner with a vehicle that has a significant, life-threatening defect that cannot be repaired, despite multiple attempts.

First, it is important to know that vehicles covered under the Texas Lemon Law must be covered by original warranties from the manufacturer or dealer. Also, the defect must have shown itself within the first 24,000 miles or 24 months of ownership – whichever comes first. For those who travel long distances, the mile mark may come first, while those who primarily drive shorter distances may see the 24 month mark first.

Next, the defect must be something that significantly decreases the value of the vehicle and also puts the lives of those who drive it at risk.

If you think you have been a victim of odometer tampering, contact Allen Stewart. The consultation is free.

The vehicle must be a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, RV, Towable Recreational Vehicle or electric vehicle.

Also, the vehicle defect must persist, despite four or more attempts to have it repaired by a reputable mechanic. It is wise to keep the service reports from all visits, even if the mechanic looked at the vehicle and did not attempt to repair the defect.

It is also wise to describe the defect the same way for each visit, making it clear that the problem being addressed is the same one each time.

Another criteria the vehicle must meet is that it sits idle for 30 days or more (cumulative, not consecutive) during the first 24 months in the owner’s possession or first 24,000 miles driven. If the owner is given a loaner vehicle at any time, the days the vehicle sits idle do not count toward this total.

At some point during the gathering of information and determining whether the vehicle meets these criteria, it is also worth reaching out to the dealer/manufacturer to make them aware of the ongoing issue with the vehicle. The Texas Lemon Law also decrees that the manufacturer must be given a reasonable amount of attempts to see the issue resolved for the auto owner.

If the vehicle fits the above criteria, then a Texas Lemon Law complaint can be filed. These complaints are handled by a special department of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, so that reduces the chances of an extended process due to litigation through the legal system.

The staff employed in the Lemon Law department look over the complaint and typically arrange for mediation. If the two parties cannot successfully reach a resolution, then the case is advanced to a hearing. At the hearing, an examiner hears arguments from both parties. Then, within 60 days, a written verdict is provided.

For the cases where the auto owner is the winner, the examiner also provides a directive for restitution – whether that be repurchase, repair or replacement.

It is worth noting that both parties do have the freedom to pursue an appeal process, if the verdict is unsatisfactory.

The Texas Lemon Law provides reassurance that there is a possibility of a reprieve if you find yourself saddled with a new vehicle that is a lemon. Sadly, more than 150,000 vehicles sold in the US each year are lemons. Also, it is worth noting that there are lemon law lawyers who can help you handle this process in a timely, effective manner with less stress and hassle.

Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.

Therefore, even finding yourself as the owner of a lemon does not mean you are without recourse.

Used vehicles may also be covered by this law, but this is the case only when the vehicle is covered by original warranties when sold as a used vehicle.

In the state of Texas, when a vehicle that is a lemon is repurchased, the dealer must have the title marked as a lemon. Therefore, it is wise to check the title and vehicle history report of used vehicles, as they may have been returned as lemons by a prior owner.

Knowing these aspects of the legal system and the laws that protect individuals who have had a vehicle’s odometer tampered with or simply have found themselves saddled with a lemon means a better chance of a satisfactory resolution to an unsavory situation.

This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C.

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