One aspect of buying a used car is the number of miles a vehicle has been driven, and vehicle’s odo or milometer meter is considered the best representation of that. But unfortunately, odometer frauds are quite common, including in Pakistan. People easily become a victim to odometer frauds just because they do not have appropriate comprehension about it. The price of becoming a victim to such frauds can be massive. A quick overall look of the car can be enough to judge if the car odo is original or tampered. By and large, it’s not possible to check the accurate mileage of a car but there are numerous facets that says a lot about the original mileage of your car.
Here’s how you can have an idea about the original mileage of your car.
1. Worn out steering wheel
The first thing you should look at is the steering wheel. The uneven and partially shiny or non shiny vinyl surface of the steering wheel speaks of its excessive use. Cars with high mileage often have worn out steering wheels. Specially in Pakistan, people often mask their steering wheels with steering covers before selling their cars to hide the signs of deterioration. In this case, it is also recommended to unmask the steering wheel to identify erosion marks.
2. Worn out gear knob
Incase the steering wheel is masked with a knitted cover, the seller of course will not allow you to remove it. In that case, a glimpse of the gear knob is the best alternate. The vinyl surface of the gear knob shows similar signs of erosion as the steering wheel does. You might notice a significant difference of luster in the lower and upper part of the gear knob which is a good indication of high mileage.
3. Worn out Brake and throttle paddle
Uneven and worn out floor paddles are the most common symptoms of excessive mileage. Whether the floor paddles are protected with leather covers or not, there will be perceptible marks of wear due to feet abrasion. Obviously, a car with low odometer mileage but excessive wear signs on floor paddles would indicate tampering with the original mileage.
4. Running a compression test
This only works if the owner allows you to drive the car to the mechanic for some quick checkup. Though compression test has nothing to do with the mileage tampering but it gives you an idea about the condition of engine. Running a compression test will allow you to measure the remaining life of the engine components. A huge forgery with the figures of odometer can be verified by a compression test.
5. Missing screws near the dashboard
Unbolting the dashboard to tamper the odometer may leave some imperfections when fixing it back together. If you come across some missing screws near the dashboard panel, do consider this important piece of evidence. Checking the heads of the screws near the dashboard can also help in identifying a fraud with the odometer.
6. Shaking needle of the speedometer
Though this point does not stands true in all occurrences of meter tampering but it is important to know the real cause of shaking needle on increasing the speed. In most of the cases, the needle vibrates when the meter panel was unbolted for some purpose. This mostly happens when people try to tamper their rollback odometers. However, using modern meter tampering tools to tamper digital meters do not require opening the dashboard.
Let’s not argue that all these parts can be replaced with new ones before tampering the meter reading. The question arises that how many sellers will really bother to get all these parts replaced? Very few!
Apart from the discussed points above, door panels, seats, handbrake or opening and closing of doors can help a lot in judging the close to real mileage of a car. A main reason I do not entirely consider only the external condition of a vehicle as proof of actual engine condition of the vehicle are the Japanese cars. Almost 95% of meter tampering is done with Japanese vehicles these days which is further facilitated by fabricated auction sheets. In that case, considering the external condition exclusively does not make sense. Secondly, if the vehicle was mostly used on highways and motorways, considering external condition might not prove much fruitful. You will find several genuine sellers who have high mileage cars, but when you see the condition, the car looks great considering the high mileage. Similarly if the car was mostly used in crowded and congested areas, the external condition will probably be worse than the internal condition of the car.
Meter tampering is a serious crime in some countries. But unfortunately in Pakistan, we do not have a workable mechanism to record the mileage of a car periodically and verify it later on. Consequently, we say that in Pakistan, it is not possible to trace the original mileage of a car.