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How to check if the odometer has been tampered with …

A second-hand vehicle acquisition project in sight? In addition to the administrative papers, the registration certificate and the general condition of the car, in particular that of the engine, must be carefully checked. It should also be ensured that the odometer has not been tampered with in order to rejuvenate the automobile and increase its value.

Focus on mileage fraud in France

According to the latest reports, around 600,000 used cars are sold in France. Between 5 and 10% of them would be affected by mileage fraud. Vigilance is especially important when the automobiles for sale have been imported from Eastern Europe. Latvia and Romania are at the top of the ranking of vehicles with a tampered meter. The phenomenon of reduced mileage concerns especially German cars.

Top 10 most affected models in France

Studies were carried out by CarVertical in 2020, a company specializing in verifying the history of used vehicles. According to the results of the investigations, cars of the BMW brand are at the top of the list, followed by Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. Here is the top 10 models most affected by mileage fraud :

• BMW 7 Series
• BMW X5
• BMW 5 Series
• BMW 3 Series
• BMW X3
• BMW 1 Series
• Audi A6
• Volkswagen Touareg
Audi A5
• Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mileage fraud is an offense punishable by 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 37,500 euros according to article L213-1 of the Consumer Code.

How do I know if the mileage has been reduced?

Regardless of the type of meter, it is possible to check whether it has been tampered with. You can first ask the seller to view the car’s HistoVec report, which notes the history of technical checks and each certified mileage.

If you cannot access it (because the car is imported, for example), you can help these clues :

• For an analog meter, the first step is to check the alignment of the numbers. If they are offset, it means that the meter has been removed manually. How to reduce the number of kilometers traveled? Just plug a drill into the rollers or the speedometer cable and spin it. Another trick is to unplug the meter, a widely used technique.
• For a digital meter, it is possible to tamper with it usinga special device. To check the mileage, all you need is a diagnostic device to plug into the car’s OBD socket. At present, this type of device is only compatible with German vehicles.

To check if the speedometer has been tampered with, it is sufficient to examine the condition of certain components to roughly determine the age of the car. In general, the distance traveled is around 200,000 km if:

• The pedal carvings disappeared ;
• The shift knob figures are no longer visible;
• The steering wheel is smooth, and the leather is peeled or torn, or cracked;
• At the level of the upholstery, the fabric is threadbare, the seams are torn and the foams are flabby.

It is recommended use the services of an expert to know the actual mileage of the car. Once the verification has been carried out, whether it is to settle the invoice of the professional or the seller, it is recommended to pay by check or by bank transfer.

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