Knowing a vehicle’s mileage is a good way to ascertain its condition and value. After a vehicle has been driven for a while, certain systems need routine safety checks and repairs. If the odometer has been turned back, mechanical problems that could affect safety may go unchecked and unrepaired. Because odometer readings are relied upon so heavily, both Florida and federal law make tampering with odometers illegal.
- Disconnecting or turning back an odometer, and even owning a vehicle with a disconnected or nonfunctional odometer, are against the law.
- It’s also against the law to sell a vehicle without providing a written statement that discloses the actual mileage at the time of transfer. All certificates of title in Florida are supposed to show the odometer reading at the time vehicles are sold.
If you are concerned that an odometer may have been tampered with:
- Look for oil-change stickers, service records or warranty cards that may reflect the mileage of the vehicle.
- Ask to see the odometer statement received by the person who is selling the vehicle to you in order to find out the mileage at the time he or she bought it.
- If buying from a dealer, contact the previous owner to ask about the mileage and condition of the vehicle.
- Useful information, including the names of previous owners and vehicles’ history of owners and odometer readings, can be obtained from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.