You might remember when Danny DeVito played Mr. Wormwood in the 1996 film adaptation of “Matilda.”
There was a scene where DeVito’s character uses a power drill to reverse the odometer in a vehicle for sale at his used car dealership. According to CarFax, DeVito’s scummy sales tactics are far from fiction. In fact, the vehilce history service said yesterday that it estimates almost 200,000 odometers are altered in cars every year.
“Odometer fraud is a calamity for car buyers,” said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax. “There are serious problems that can arise from a rollback. Older, deteriorating parts lead to unexpected repairs while unperformed maintenance for the true mileage may compromise the safety and performance of these cars. Not to mention, each victim loses thousands of dollars because they pay much more than these cars are really worth. This new data is a clear warning that consumers everywhere need to be on the lookout for odometer rollbacks and protect themselves when buying used cars.”
According to the study, most cars are rolled back by at least 50,000 miles and the most susceptible models are at least 14 years old. But the practice isn’t limited to vehicles with analog odometers. In fact, CarFax says digital indicators are easier to alter because they are computerized. Dishonest sellers can easily find odomoeter correction tools online.