Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Odometer tampering still an issue for used car buyers

The old adage holds true, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

Police have issued a warning to second-hand car buyers after a spate of vehicles have been sold with their odometers wound back.

The old-time scam has returned as criminals use new technology to provide false mileage readings, significantly boosting the value of old cars.

And some vehicles have had their odometers replaced with meters from lower-mileage wrecks to dupe unsuspecting buyers.

Detective Sen-Sgt Mark Ward, of the Melbourne vehicle crime squad, said speedometer crime was attractive to criminals.

'Speedo windbacks is emerging as a serious vehicle crime issue. It is reasonably high profit with a minimal risk factor," he said.

'Often, unsuspecting purchasers are not aware they have purchased a speedo windback vehicle until something goes wrong with that vehicle." Sen-Sgt Ward said buying cars through online forums was 'fraught with danger" because of the lack of statutory protection a buyer had.

'The old adage holds true, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is'," Sen-Sgt Ward said.

The old adage holds true, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is

Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce executive director David Purchase said the organisation would like to see more severe penalties for odometer tampering.

'Odometer tampering is a serious offence and it can affect the sale and resale value of the vehicle, as well as hide the fact the vehicle may need more extensive servicing, or result in unexpected breakdowns, sooner than expected," Mr Purchase said.

News Corp has been told insurance companies are red-flagging vehicles with low mileage on the clock combined with surprisingly high years.

One car-buyer said he had bought a late-model Toyota 4WD for his family with 57,000km on the clock from a private seller in the north-western suburbs.

Months later, he took it to the original dealer for a service only to be told the vehicle had travelled about 170,000km, devaluing the purchase by thousands of dollars.

'We were ripped off and deceived. We did everything we thought was right," the buyer said.

Industry sources say there are unscrupulous operators with the right equipment to charge small amounts to those in the know wanting their clocks wound back.

Victims are often afraid to take the matter further after confronting a vendor who already has their address and other personal details.