Watch out! Motorists use tools bought online to reverse used car odometers and scam buyers

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Illuminated Odometer displayed on a vehicle dashboard
Illuminated Odometer displayed on a vehicle dashboard
Douglas Sacha

A vehicle's original mileage can be turned back, often to the detriment of the new owner.

There are tools for sale online that can do this.

The true mileage of newer BMW and Mercedes-Benz models are stored in the key.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.


Earlier in April, Wheels24 reported that new owners of pre-owned vehicles should watch out for car mileage readings being turned back.

One of the reasons people do it is to make a specific vehicle appear lucrative to the prospective buyer, and sell it quicker, and for a better price - often to the detriment of the new owner.

Fidgeting with a vehicle's 'age' or mileage can throw scheduled mechanical maintenance out of sync because components like cambelt and yearly services are mileage specific, and you would be left entirely in the dark not knowing the actual reading.

Available anywhere

According to Cape Town vehicle security specialist Moinuddin Gaibe from Auto Wizz, there are plenty of tools online that allow individuals to 'turn back the clock with the help of equipment sold online.


Have you fallen victim to a vehicle with its true mileage turned back? Email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Gaibe says: "There are lots of tools sold online, but the principle behind it, is that it's not meant to be used unjustly. It is meant to be used in the event that you are fitting a brand-new odometer and you need to put the reading to where it was.

READ | Watch out for vehicles with reversed odometers - here's how you can avoid buying a 'trap'

"We've had people offer us insane amounts of money to be able to turn back the reading, but we turned them down. We have the tools to do it here [at our premises]. Sadly, guys are doing it because the unsuspecting person buys a car, and it could turn out to be a nightmare."

Vehicle odometre
Vehicle odometre

A quick check on the Internet showed that there are a range of these mileage correction products. However, they are quite pricey, with some costing upwards of R3 000, depending on make and model.

The modern age of internet and social media allows anyone to Google, sift through, and watch 'how to' tutorials because the information is there and readily available to scam unsuspecting buyers.

Best be alert

Maybe you've owned that one vehicle in the past that gave you endless issues. Just when you fix one problem, another seems to crop up, and you simply put it down as one of the models put together on a Friday afternoon in the factory. In actual fact, it could have gone through the mileage rewind process, and you would never have known.

While you won't be able to know if a vehicle's odometer has been reversed right off the bat, matching up the kilometre reading and overall condition is one way to go about it. Vehicles with low mileage are generally well kept aesthetically, and the presence of many other generic components should set alarm bells ringing.

Notifying the seller that you will be doing a mileage check at the OEM is a way of being sure and, at the same time, understanding the seller's motives.

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