How do I prove that an odometer has not been altered?
October 17, 2007 6:54 AM   Subscribe

How do I prove that an odometer has not been tampered with?

We'd like to sell my husband's 300ZX TT. We paid for a Carfax report and it has the wrong odometer reading - by exactly 100k. After some research, it turns out that two years ago, when we took the car for the state (CO) emissions testing, the testing facility (or the state grunt who inputted the info) added a '1' to the front of the odometer reading.

When we contacted Carfax to fix the problem, they said that it would be automatically updated via the state's system at the next emissions testing. Guess what? Colorado no longer requires testing & there is no way to update a number that does not exist.

Carfax refuses to update the record without proof of the odometer reading at the time of the emissions testing or some other official verification of the numbers.

We had a buyer who said he'd purchase the car if we could have the odometer reading verified. However, his insurance checks the Carfax records and we'd need to get this fixed first.

Short of creating a pre-dated invoice via Photoshop with the correct numbers, how would we be able to prove that the odometer has not been rolled back? Wouldn't there be some sort of evidence that could be found if it had been tampered with? Should a reputable mechanic be able to do this?

Any advise is greatly appreciated.
posted by TauLepton to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
On the possibility that odometer verification is impossible....

Would a knowledgeable mechanic be able to tell if the car had been driven 50,000 miles versus 150,000? Maybe if the potential buyer and yourself could decide on a mechanic to give his professional opinion on the matter the buyer would be satisfied with that.
posted by ian1977 at 6:58 AM on October 17, 2007

It almost sounds like you would have to sue the inspector...
posted by Doohickie at 6:59 AM on October 17, 2007

Do you have records of your varioius car repairs, oil changes, etc? When they did that to my car (my 15 yr. old car at the time), I had all of my repair records, and each one had the mileage on it. I could prove that the car didn't get 100,000 miles overnight. You might not be able to change the Carfax report, but you could show it to the person who wants to buy your car.
posted by clarkstonian at 7:08 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: @ian1977: No dice with that particular buyer, we asked. :-)

@Dohickie: We can't prove who did the number mistake. It could have been the inspector or anyone at the now defunct CO department.

@clarkstonian: This car is my husband's baby. He does the oil changes himself and it's never needed any type of repair. Sigh.

Thanks all! I'll keep watching for more answers.
posted by TauLepton at 7:11 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: More info: We did take the car down to have a non-manditory emissions testing just before the state shut it down. The odometer reading on that test is correct. We faxed the paperwork to Carfax but they said that it was unacceptable. They wanted paperwork from within 6 months of the mistake date.
posted by TauLepton at 7:12 AM on October 17, 2007

Well if they wanted paperwork from within six months of the mistake date, and they won't accept anything more recent, then you're screwed, right? I mean, anything that you do now will likewise be unacceptable, if that's the rule they're going to follow.

Only thing I was going to suggest is driving to the nearest state that does do emissions testing and just paying for a test. It'll cost you a few bucks and be totally unnecessary, but it might clear this up.

Barring that, you could threaten to sue Carfax (for diminishing the value of your vehicle and refusing to correct the mistake), but that probably won't get you anywhere fast.

If this potential buyer is going to believe Carfax over you, given all the evidence that Carfax is wrong, and a state inspection showing the correct mileage, then I think you're never going to make them happy. They're a writeoff.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:45 AM on October 17, 2007

I suspect that you'll have this problem with most buyers, and if the current prospect is planning on (ever) reselling the car, he's right to be apprehensive.

I'd suggest assembling whatever evidence you can that the odometer reading is wrong (does your insurance company have any records?) and phoning your representative in the state legislature. I suspect that no front-line employee in the state government or at Carfax will be empowered to help you.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:55 AM on October 17, 2007

Best answer: You need to call the DMV and apply for a new Odometer Affidavit. If you were to sell the car to Carmax or a dealership, they'd request this from you. If you are friendly with a car dealer or your local Nissan salesman, you might give them a call to ask what they'd do in your situation. Either way, you just need to file a new affidavit with the DMV.
posted by mattbucher at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: @mattbucher: We had called the dealership but the service guy said he couldn't help us.

There's a new dealership that just opened! I called and talked with the Service Manager. He said to bring it in this afternoon and he'd be more than happy to sign off on a VIN verification which includes an odometer reading.

He jokingly said that if Carfax doesn't accept this, we should offer them some blood from our firstborn son.

I'll update if the verification works!
posted by TauLepton at 9:34 AM on October 17, 2007

I don't know where you are in Colorado, but here in the Denver/Boulder metro area emissions testing is still required, though only every other year, and on change of ownership. Just to correct a bit of misinformation.
posted by Eekacat at 9:45 AM on October 17, 2007

@TauLepton: glad to hear it worked out!
posted by mattbucher at 10:06 AM on October 17, 2007

TauLepton we don't use the @username convention here, just the username is sufficient.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the public correction Mitheral.

Here's one in return from just below the comment box.

"note: Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks."
posted by TauLepton at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2007

I wasn't calling you out it was just a friendly FYI. I would have contacted you offline but you don't have an email listed in your profile and my comment was made before MeMail.
posted by Mitheral at 11:33 PM on October 22, 2007

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