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Old 5th July 2020, 08:33   #1
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Default Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Was binge watching some car repair videos on youtube when I came across this. What shocks me is the ease with which you can change the odometer mileage and can basically be done by anyone who knows where the OBD port is! I wonder if there is a way around to check the actual mileage from the ECU itself. The repercussions are massive especially in the used luxury car market where people would least expect this given the car is "technologically advanced".

Posting two links, one from UK and the other one from India.




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Old 5th July 2020, 12:55   #2
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It is a good question in these digital times, to which I have yet to see a good answer on any car forum.

On most modern cars the mileage tends to be stored in two different places. On the instrument cluster and on the ECU (or PCM).

The mileage shown and stored on the instrument cluster can always be adjusted. This is needed if for instance you need to replace the cluster and still want to retain and show the original mileage.

Now on the ECU/PCM it might be somewhat different. The whole idea is it retains the original mileage no matter what. But again there is a need to adjust it to, e.g. when replacing such a unit.

On some cars the mileage between cluster and ECU/PCM is checked and if it is not within a certain threshold an alarm will flash up on your dash. (E.g. VW?)

To what extend and how easily the mileage in the ECU/PCM can be changed? I don't know, I also suspect there might be differences between the different manufacturers. Altering the mileage on the cluster is very easy.

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Old 5th July 2020, 18:21   #3
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Default re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Odo tampering ! We can term it as the oldest profession for car sellers ! This has been flourishing ever since the cars came with speedos about 100 years back. When the digital display of odometer came along during the recent decades, many were saying that from now on there will be no tampering - viz. the oldest profession will die it's natural death. But no, when I saw such videos showing the ease of tampering in the newer digital displays, I was taken aback.

Again, apart from what Jereon says about the imprints in the ECU's, we need to use the oldest methods to estimate the total kms run on any used car. The condition of the driver's seat, overall condition of the car, the dates of manufacture of all tyres, their wear and tear vis-a-vis their dates of manufacture and the mileage shown on the odo, the condition of the wheel rims, suspensions and so on.

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Old 6th July 2020, 04:25   #4
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Default re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

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Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
Odo tampering ! We can term it as the oldest profession for car sellers ! This has been flourishing ever since the cars came with speedos about 100 years back. When the digital display of odometer came along during the recent decades, many were saying that from now on there will be no tampering - viz. the oldest profession will die it's natural death. But no, when I saw such videos showing the ease of tampering in the newer digital displays, I was taken aback.
The video which first played when I was watching youtube was of a car which had its instrument console replaced with one from a wrecked car. The guy had to take out the instrument console, do some hex coding on a chip and solder it to make it work. The one's in the video is just a 2 min job for a child and that is what concerns me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
Again, apart from what Jereon says about the imprints in the ECU's, we need to use the oldest methods to estimate the total kms run on any used car. The condition of the driver's seat, overall condition of the car, the dates of manufacture of all tyres, their wear and tear vis-a-vis their dates of manufacture and the mileage shown on the odo, the condition of the wheel rims, suspensions and so on.
You can only do as much. As an example, the selling price difference between a 50k run Mercedes and a 100k run Mercedes would be massive in India. The price difference would be enough for the seller to set the car up to look like a 50k run car. I am just wondering if the odometer value is also written on the ECM somehwere.
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Old 7th July 2020, 16:50   #5
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

That's why, when buying pre-owned, I always insist on:

- Getting full service records.

- Talking to the workshop / dealer where the car was serviced.

- Driving the car properly. With some exceptions, an 80000 km car will always feel far different than a 40000 km one.

- Getting a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection done.

Odo tampering was done in the analog days and it will continue in the digital days.
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Old 7th July 2020, 17:10   #6
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

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- Getting full service records.
.
I donít know about India, but in many western parts there is a roaring trade in service records. To put it differently; shady car dealers make up service records or rather the traditional service records as the owner would have received.

Most official dealers will keep records of at least their own cars. Sharing that data might be problematical due to privacy concerns etc.

Here in the Netherlands, the mileage of every car gets registered whenever it gets a proper service and or whenever the car does its annual MOT. Those records are specifically for the purpose of minimising the risk of odometer tampering. The record will show, year by year, what mileage was recorded by whom.

Most car dealers will offer you the odometer record free of charge as part of purchasing the car. As a private person, you can buy the record of any car for a small fee. You wonít be able to see who owns the car, just the recorded year/mileage.

So it is a pretty good way of verifying that the odometer is realistic or not. Imported cars wonít show a history in this system, but will start building up as soon as they are registered here.

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Old 7th July 2020, 18:51   #7
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Reducing the mileage is very common and old practice. This boosts the vehicle price by few thousands or even more.

I have heard couple of stories where the person who sold/exchanged the car, found the same car in display at pre loved car showroom with reduced mileage.

Forget dealers, I have acquaintance with an uncle who disabled the odometer of his bajaj Priya scooter at some 20000 KM. I could not understand back then why he would do that, but later I understood that it was for better selling price.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th July 2020 at 20:24. Reason: Typos
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Old 8th July 2020, 08:34   #8
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I donít know about India, but in many western parts there is a roaring trade in service records. To put it differently; shady car dealers make up service records or rather the traditional service records as the owner would have received.
I usually buy lightly-used cars that are anywhere between 1.5 - 3 years old. My last 3 used cars were all in the factory warranty. In India, the car only visits the authorised dealer workshop for the initial ~5 years of ownership, so I always get genuine service records from the official workshop.
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Old 8th July 2020, 10:01   #9
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

I had a neighbour in my apartment who owned a 2008 Hyundai Verna which he had bought new. He ran that car for 90k kms in 5 years and sold it. Those were the days when fake leather seat covers were 'in' and this person got a set of beige seat covers for the car from the showroom. By the time the car was sold, the seat covers were soiled and the paint work was quite shabby.

Anyway, a few weeks after he sold the car, I noticed my uncle bought a Verna and it had a similar registration number. I was kinda sure it was the same car but my dad doubted it. After all, the paint work was decent with no scratches and the number plates were new. Also the odo had only 60k kms! I wasn't sure but the seats were too clean! And then I saw the back seat. One headrest looked out of place because it had the same soiled seat cover. I instantly knew my uncle was cheated. But it was hard to digest- the original owner sold it for ₹1.5 lakhs and my uncle bought it for ₹3 lakhs! The dealer would've spent ₹30-₹40k for the respray. Clean profits for the dealer.

That's when I knew how easy it was to tamper with the odometer.

Sadly though, the water pump failed in a few thousand kms and the engine required a significant rework. He again spent ₹3 lakhs to rebuild the engine at the ASC. He sold the car after a few years for ₹1 lakh.

Service history is very important and it's a must to check it before closing the deal. Not sure how to validate services done at FNG.
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Old 8th July 2020, 10:25   #10
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
I donít know about India, but in many western parts there is a roaring trade in service records. To put it differently; shady car dealers make up service records or rather the traditional service records as the owner would have received.
Jeroen
To share an experience, 3 years back I wanted to sell off my Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Petrol which had done only 22K kms in 44 months. It was a leased vehicle. One person was interested from the OLX add. After initial discussions, I insisted that he visits with me together to Maruti Suzuki Service centre to look at all the service records, do a thorough assessment and then get a feedback from the service centre on the health / worthiness of the car.
I paid for the service somewhere less than 1k (Sorry donít remember the exact amount) and the Maruti SA showed the full service history to the prospective owner on the computer. He was however very hesitant to print it or give it in writing even though I was the owner.

I had to do all this as I was personally careless with service history / records nut now i have learned my lesson and have started keeping a track. I assumes anyways it will all be in the Maruti Systems.

So yes service history and ODO readings during these records are the most reliable source of tracking tampering.
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Old 8th July 2020, 10:56   #11
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Well, this is the single most important reason that keeps me away from pre-owned cars. I happened to hear one of my friends do the same mistake in his Scross. One day it was 75k on the odo, and a month later it was 45k km.

When asked, he said he doesn't like to lose resale (losing his morality isn't an issue I thought) and will keep servicing it in the neighborhood FNG until it hits 85k km, from when he would again go back to Nexa. So the next buyer will be able to find all service records in the A.S.S for the claimed figure on the odo ( albeit an unusual gap between 75k and 85k service, for which he would cite some reason or the other ).

Once I realised that even well to do, educated people resort to such tactics, I have developed a distrust for all used cars.
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Old 8th July 2020, 11:05   #12
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

I guess the crux of opening this thread was

1. It is ridiculously easy to tamper with the odo even in these so called highly advanced and sophisticated cars. If I hadnt seen it, i would be the last person to believe that it can be done so easily in cars like these.

2. There are loads of youtube vloggers these days who are specifically targeting the used luxury car market and they have massive audiences. One has close to 3 million subscribers! Not only is their car and associated technical knowledge extremely poor (e.g. blind sport tell you car is coming from behind when it is dark since the monitor glows in the rear view mirror or that all these expensive cars are extremely reliable and need just basic maintenance for 5-6 lakh kilometers) and may just push a vulnerable buyer into buying one of these luxury lemons for a handsome margin.

3. Be very very careful when buying used cars.
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Old 8th July 2020, 11:24   #13
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

Odometer tampering is common in developing countries like India only I reckon. Because here in Saudi I could see that people they don't even bother too much about the ODO when checking for a pre-owned one ( But some Indians here still consider that cars ran over 1 Lakh kilometre is useless ). If the computer check result is positive, then the buyer wont care too much about the car. I have seen Civics Accords and Corollas exchanging hands with 2 or 3 Lakh kilometres on ODO with ease. And due to the same reason the price of car is solely based on the overall quality and not just the ODO reading.
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Old 8th July 2020, 13:12   #14
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post

- Getting full service records.
.
Is this easier said than done?

I was hunting for a pre owned ecosport or free style for a while. I visited numerous dealers over olx / personally in HSR layout Bangalore. When i ask for full service record they simply ask me to get that from the service center for which i need owner's consent. Without that i wont get one.
The strategy is followed is to browse over the whole list of dealers car. Irrespective of manufacturing year if all the cars show mileage less than 50K I consider most of the cars odo rigged so i wouldn't proceed. But this process made me dis-honour all the dealers.

And then, Since i had a history of owning Hyundai i had a contact of trusted hyundai mechanic So finally to get the service details and check the car i was reliant on him so ended up buying Creta with his help from Cars24.

So the question is how can you get the full service record reliably when you are looking for a pre owned car of any brands?
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Old 8th July 2020, 14:02   #15
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Default Re: Odometer tampering is ridiculously easy

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So the question is how can you get the full service record reliably when you are looking for a pre owned car of any brands?
It is a gamble my friend, you can determine the age of the car and its current condition, you can find out with the help of a mechanic what has been changed, what is original and if it has an accident history etc. But full service record in a reliable manner is difficult - here is why.

Once the warranty is over a car can be serviced outside and then clock the meter back (very cheap) , give it for an oil change at dealership where it records the Kms. So now you have 'proper' service record.

Used car buyers are looking for a 3-5 year old car with around ~40K Kms on the odometer

I know of a Maruti (recent one) that was sold with ~40K on the Odo after 3 years but in reality it had close to 90K, it was exchanged through dealer itself for another Maruti. No one would have touched that vehicle for a decent price if it had the original miles on the odo.

Once (long time ago) some individual tried to sell me a ~40K run car, I did not even drive it - I saw the wear on gear lever, pedals and steering and ran away from it!!
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