SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — More than 30,000 vehicles in the San Diego area had fraudulent mileage readings in 2018, an increase of about 13 percent from 2017, Carfax experts say.
The issue highlights the constant dangers used car buyers face in San Diego and in California, which has become one of the worst states for odometer rollbacks.
"It's costing consumers thousands of dollars each time they buy one these cars without knowing that it has more miles than they think it does," Chris Basso, Carfax public relations manager, said.
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Rolling back the odometer alters the mileage reading on a vehicle to show a lower amount. In a matter of minutes, mileage can be rolled back thousands of miles. Rollbacks can then result in costly auto maintenance bills for new owners.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates odometer fraud costs U.S. car buyers more than $1 billion annually.
"Essentially like hacking the car's computer so you can plug in whatever mileage you want the odometer reading to be and then resale that car and get thousands of dollar more," Basso said.
Basso said though tactics become sophisticated, consumers can be proactive before handing out thousands for a used car.
"Criminals find a way to stay one step ahead typically, but people who are vigilant about doing their research, utilizing the resources that are available to them — many of them free — can protect themselves," Basso said.
The NHTSA offers a number of ways consumers can protect themselves from odometer fraud.