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Mileage Tampering: What Is It And How You Can Avoid It When Buying A Used Car?

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Mileage Tampering: What Is It And How You Can Avoid It When Buying A Used Car?

In the realm of prospective vehicle ownership, especially when looking in the used market, the issue of mileage tampering remains a significant concern. So, what is it, and how can you mitigate your chances of falling prey to it?

Mileage tampering, commonly referred to as "clocking" or "rollback," involves altering the odometer reading of a vehicle to display a lower mileage than the actual distance travelled. As you can imagine, the motivations behind this are deceitful.

Sellers may engage in mileage tampering to inflate the resale value of their vehicles, deceive prospective buyers regarding the vehicle's condition, or evade penalties associated with lease agreements.

Unfortunately, Malaysia could do better to have stricter laws to deter would-be perpetrators, as is the case in many other countries where individuals who knowingly engage in mileage tampering are likely to swiftly face legal consequences.

That said, educating consumers about the risks associated with mileage tampering is crucial in fostering transparency and accountability within the automotive industry, and with that, here are some simple ways you can prevent being duped into buying a car with a “rolled-back” mileage reading.

1. Check service history.

A vehicle’s up-to-date service history is one of the most important things to check when selecting a used car, so it should be one of your first things to ask about from the seller. Feel free to look at any and all the relevant maintenance and repair documentation as well.

New cars under manufacturer warranty will require it to undergo routine maintenance at an authorised dealer or official appointed service centres, with mileage and work done clearly logged. Most owners also keep these receipts, which further reinforces the credibility of the car’s mileage. If the numbers don’t match, that’s definitely a red flag.

2. Does its condition match the mileage?

The saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies strongly to buying used or reconditioned cars. Take your time to inspect the overall exterior and interior condition of the vehicle. If it doesn't match the expected condition given its mileage and history, further investigation is strongly recommended.

Signs of tampering include scuff marks around the gauge cluster, newer-looking gauges or odometers, and non-functional or faulty operation of the trip computer/odometer. Other than that, be sure to check the thickness of brake discs and the car’s tyre condition, as discrepancies may indicate mileage rollback. A low-mileage vehicle, for example, is likely to still be fitted with its factory tyres.

3. Have the car inspected by a trusted mechanic.

Mechanics possess the expertise to identify subtle signs of tampering that ordinary buyers might miss. Their technical knowledge allows them to thoroughly examine the vehicle's mechanical components, detecting any inconsistencies between the odometer reading and the actual condition of the car.

Additionally, mechanics have access to diagnostic tools and equipment that can reveal electronic tampering or manipulation of the odometer. Their presence during the early viewing process provides buyers with peace of mind and professional guidance, ensuring they make an informed decision about the purchase.

Should you not be able to bring a mechanic with you to help you with the viewing, you could make a request to the seller that the car be brought to an independent mechanic for a more thorough inspection. How the seller responds to this, especially if you already suspect the car’s mileage being tampered with, should inform you of their motives.

A Quality Used Car, Every Time

We, as car buyers, have to remain vigilant when undertaking the purchase of something as important and financially significant as a car, especially when you know there are unscrupulous individuals out there that may have you paying way above the worth of the car.

But why not skip the headache and uncertainty altogether?

All CARSOME Certified cars go through a strict 175-point inspection to rule out mileage tampering, major accident, flood, and fire damage. Additionally, they all come with fixed prices with no hidden fees, and a hassle-free purchase experience where we’ll handle all the documents for you.

Head over to the CARSOME website to view their extensive selection of high quality Certified cars or, alternatively, download the CARSOME app available for iOS and Android.


Jim Kem

Jim Kem

Content Producer

There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.

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