Odometer fraud on the rise in metro Detroit – here's how to spot it

Posted at 6:36 AM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 06:36:11-05

(WXYZ) — Anyone in the market looking to buy a used car should be on the lookout for odometer fraud, which is still a major issue in metro Detroit.

Carfax estimates that more than 39,000 cars in Michigan have had their odometers rolled back, with 16,000 of them in metro Detroit.

You may have thought odometer fraud was a thing of the past with digital odometers, but that's not the case as crooks are adapting to the new technology.

"I was so stressed out, I was really angry and worried," Gary Gunn said.

He bought a 2020 Chevy Equinox from a used car lot in Detroit and spotted problems immediately.

"The first weekend, I had to deal with the battery. I had to go buy a new battery myself," he said. "Then I started hearing some transmission problems with the RPMs going up too high and not shifting."

It wasn't until months later when he took the car to a dealership that he found out the odometer had been adjusted to have less miles.

Carfax reports that odometer fraud is up 26% in metro Detroit since last year.

It's as easy as turning to eBay. A repair shop showed us how easy it is to adjust the odometer on a 2007 Chevy Silverado, bringing it from 265,763 miles to 65,171 miles. That simple adjustment brought the car's value from $14,000 to $22,000.

Mechanic shows us how easy it is to change odometer

There are ways to protect yourself.

Carfax says to examine the vehicle, check for wear and tear, ask the seller questions.

"If it sounds like it's too good to be true, it probably is," Emilie Voss with Carfax said.

She also suggests taking it for an inspection, as mechanics can often spot things we may not be able to spot.

After putting a call out on social media, about a dozen people told us they found out about odometer fraud by running a Carfax.