How to Tell if a Vehicle's Odometer Has Been Rolled Back

How to Tell if a Vehicle's Odometer Has Been Rolled Back

Odometer fraud is a deceptive practice in which a vehicle’s odometer is rolled back or tampered with to display a lower mileage than the car has traveled. This can lead to overpaying for a used car and encountering unexpected maintenance issues. In this guide, we’ll provide tips on how to spot signs of odometer tampering and how to use Bumper’s tools and resources to search a car’s mileage history.

Search 50 vehicles for odometer inconsistencies with a Bumper subscription!

Five signs of odometer tampering

  1. Inconsistent wear and tear: Look for signs of wear that don’t match the displayed mileage, such as excessive wear on the pedals, steering wheel, or upholstery.
  2. Scratches or marks around the odometer: Inspect the odometer for signs of tampering, such as scratches or marks around the display or misaligned digits.
  3. Dashboard warning lights: Pay attention to dashboard warning lights that may have been disabled to hide issues related to high mileage.
  4. Inconsistent service records: Check the vehicle’s service records for inconsistencies or gaps in maintenance history that could indicate odometer tampering.
  5. Mismatched tires: Look for mismatched tires, which could suggest that the tires were replaced due to wear that doesn’t align with the displayed mileage. Each tire should have a manufacturing date code in its TIN, or Tire Identification Number.

Searching a car’s mileage history with Bumper 

To further investigate a vehicle’s mileage history and uncover possible odometer tampering, make use of our versatile tools and resources:

  • VIN Lookup: Access detailed vehicle data using the VIN to ensure you have regularly updated information on the car.
  • License Plate Search: By entering the license plate number, you could access essential information about the vehicle, including registration details, title history, and sale listing history.
  • VIN Decoder: Decode the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to uncover important details about the car, such as its make, model, and production year.
  • Car Title Search: Delve deeper into a vehicle’s title history to reveal possible issues, such as salvage titles or mileage discrepancies.
  • Vehicle History Report: Get an overview of a car’s history, including available accident reports, sales listing history, and recalls. This could potentially help you verify the car’s mileage and spot inconsistencies.

How to make informed decisions when buying a used car based on mileage

When purchasing a used car with mileage as the leading factor for your decision, it’s crucial to consider all available information and compare different options:

  • Vehicle Comparison: Compare multiple cars side by side to help you choose the best used car for your needs.
  • Market Value: Research the fair market value of a used car to help ensure you’re paying a reasonable price for its condition and history.
  • Car Depreciation Calculator: Estimate the depreciation of a used car over time to better understand its long-term value.
  • Car Research Tool: Gather information on various car makes and models to help you make an informed decision.


Detecting odometer tampering is crucial when purchasing a used car, as it can lead to overpaying and unexpected maintenance issues. By inspecting the car for signs of odometer rollback and using our tools and resources to research its possible mileage history, you’re taking essential steps that can help you make an informed decision and enjoy a successful experience in the used car market.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is odometer fraud?

While it’s difficult to estimate the exact prevalence of odometer fraud, it remains a concern in the used car market. As a buyer, it’s important to be vigilant and use the tools and resources at your disposal to verify a car’s mileage history and avoid falling victim to odometer fraud.

What are the consequences of buying a car with a tampered odometer?

Purchasing a car with a tampered odometer can result in overpaying for a vehicle and encountering unexpected maintenance costs. Additionally, the car may have a lower resale value due to its true mileage, and you may encounter difficulties obtaining financing or insurance coverage if you’re intentionally trying to buy a vehicle with a tampered odometer.

Is odometer tampering illegal?

Yes, odometer tampering is illegal in most jurisdictions, and in the United States, tampering with a vehicle’s odometer is a federal crime. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment and civil liability for damages resulting from the fraud.

How can I protect myself from odometer fraud when buying a used car?

To try to protect yourself from odometer fraud, inspect the vehicle for signs of tampering, review its service records, and use tools like ourVehicle History Report to research its mileage history. Additionally, consider having a trusted mechanic inspect the car to identify any potential issues related to high mileage.

Can digital odometers be rolled back?

While digital odometers are generally more secure than their mechanical counterparts, they are not immune to tampering. Unscrupulous individuals may use specialized tools or software to manipulate digital odometers. As a buyer, it’s essential to be vigilant and use the same resources and inspections to verify a car’s mileage, regardless of the type of odometer it has.

About Bumper

At Bumper, we are on a mission to bring vehicle history reports and ownership up to speed with modern times. A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you'll likely make, and you deserve to have access to the same tools and information the pros use to make the right decisions.

About Bumper Team

At Bumper, we are on a mission to bring vehicle history reports and ownership up to speed with modern times. Learn more.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.