According to CarFax, unusual conditions in the auto sales market mean “it’s odometer rollback season.” The company, which compiles vehicle history reports based on various touchpoints in a car’s life, said its research shows more than 1.9 million cars on the road have had their odometers tampered with. This total represents a 7% increase over 2021. CarFax ranked the states based on the number of tampered vehicles on the road, with California at No. 1 with 437,600 and North Carolina at No. 10 with 45,300. By the numbers, every state in the top 10 is one of the largest auto markets in the U.S. except Arizona, and Statista says the top 10 states for vehicle registrations in 2020 are California, Texas, Florida State, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Additionally, the top 10 states by volume accounted for 1.2 million of the 1.9 million dishonest vehicles CarFax said were on the road. The remaining 40 states averaged about 17,000 tampered vehicles per state.
In percentage terms, of the states on this volume list, fraud was highest in Texas (15%), Florida and Arizona (12% each), North Carolina (7%), and Illinois and Pennsylvania (5% each) climbed the most. California, New York, Georgia and Virginia rounded out the top 10 with gains of less than 5%.
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It’s hard to find current stats for odometer rollbacks. In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that 450,000 cars with tampered odometers were sold each year, and that number remains about 20 years later.Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told New York Times, “Odometer fraud is a serious crime that costs Americans more than $1 billion annually.” This economic cost also comes from a 20-year-old study that identified the 450,000 vehicles The average cost per car in , is $2,336. According to CarFax research, “consumers unknowingly buy cars with backward odometers, losing an average of $4,000.” Coincidentally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator calculates that $2,336 in 2002 equals $2,336 in 2022 $3,868 in November. It must be said that we don’t know CarFax’s research methodology, but we do know that the company’s sales are designed to address the purpose of this research. Even official NHTSA government documents from 2010 have the CarFax logo, and NHTSA recommends purchasing CarFax reports. The company is the top choice for such annual local news stories, such as this one in Phoenix last year, this one in Detroit two years ago, this one in Jacksonville, Fla., and this one in Minneapolis three years ago report, and this one from Memphis, Tennessee, five years ago.
Back in the last century, the U.S. Department of Justice said the average rollback involved losing more than 40,000 miles, investigative news show 60 minutes Called odometer tampering “America’s largest consumer fraud.” Digital odometers haven’t stopped this practice, and odometer rollbacks are still a big deal. There are “mileage correction” tools for sale on Amazon and eBay that can reset many vehicles to any chosen mileage, and YouTube is plentiful with tutorials. In times like these, there’s too much money to be made selling a car that claims to have 80,000 miles on it compared to another model that actually has 120,000 miles on it. So, as always, buyers beware. And don’t be afraid to ask the seller for CarFax.