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Odometer fraud is when a vehicle’s odometer reading (mileage) is lower than a previous reading reported by a prior registered owner. The difference could be the result of a data entry error or odometer tampering. Tampering with an odometer is illegal in Alberta.
Alberta Transportation will contact you if you register a vehicle with a lower reading than previously recorded. However, reporting an odometer reading is voluntary.
Service Alberta Registries offers a Vehicle Information Report for a fee, but there is no guarantee the odometer reading will be reported for an Alberta vehicle. A CarProof or Carfax report, which covers vehicles across Canada, may or may not have the odometer reading.
For more information, see the Odometer information tipsheet.
Signs of odometer fraud
If a vehicle’s odometer has been tampered with, it may show some of the following signs:
- unusually low odometer reading (less than 20,000 km per year)
- digits are misaligned
- trip odometer does not work
- one or more dash screws are missing
- there are scratches near the odometer
- dates on oil change labels are inconsistent with odometer readings
- vehicle registration information is inconsistent with odometer readings
- wear and tear (door strikers, floor mats, carpets, driver’s seat, gas/brake pedals) is inconsistent with the age of the vehicle and odometer reading
How to deal with it
If you purchase a vehicle and learn the odometer has been turned back, first try and resolve the issue with the seller.
Whether you bought it through a private sale or through a dealer, you may ask the seller for a refund. Even if the sale is ‘as is,’ tampering with the odometer is illegal.
If you want to keep the vehicle, ask the seller to pay you the difference between the purchase price and the value of the vehicle with a higher odometer reading.
If these do not work, you can file a complaint through the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC). AMVIC licenses automotive salespeople and dealerships and may be able to investigate your odometer reading complaint.
You may also want to:
- file a police report
- file a court claim if the seller will not refund your money
You can help prevent odometer fraud by providing your vehicle odometer reading to Service Alberta Registries the next time you register a vehicle or renew a registration at an authorized registry agent location.
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