DENVER (CBS4)– The used car market is big in Colorado and with that comes the potential of odometer fraud for consumers. Colorado ranks top 10 in the nation for having the most cars with odometer rollbacks, which translates to nearly 20,000 vehicles on the road right now, according to Carfax.
“It looked really good on the eBay listing,” said Wayne Boncyk about the Jeep he spotted online. “The mileage was reasonable for nine-year-old car.”
At 109,000 miles the Jeep Cherokee seemed like the perfect SUV for Boncyk’s son to drive to and from college so he bought it. Boncyk later ordered a Carfax report, wanting to know about possible recalls, but found something even more concerning.
“There weren’t any additional recalls,” said Boncyk. “There was a flag that said odometer discrepancy.”
The Carfax report shows the mileage at 109,000 in 2010 but by 2013 it was 173,000 miles.
“This is my son’s vehicle,” said Boncyk. “His safety is at stake. We’re talking about 40 percent more mileage on that thing then I was lead to believe that thing had.”
It’s now been a year-and-a-half since Boncyk bought the car. He tried reaching out to the seller but got no response. That seller, a 27 year old who lives in Nevada, told CBS4 he sold the Jeep for a neighbor who did not have an eBay account. He claims he does not know about a rollback.
Christopher Basso of Carfax says many consumers don’t realize odometer fraud still exists.
“We’re not looking for it when shopping for a used car,” says Basso.
He says many consumers believe the old analog odometers are the only way to rollback mileage, but the digital odometer’s can be easier. The equipment is simple to find online and is relatively cheap.
Boncyk has now done plenty of research on this issue, “Anybody with moderate computer hacking skills and the right equipment can set a modern odometer in five minutes.”
Mechanics say a car inspection won’t necessarily flag a rollback. It’s very hard to tell which is why they recommend buying vehicle history reports like Carfax and AutoCheck. Those might be your only way to spot odometer fraud.
Carfax said they collect data from 92,000 sources nationwide with about 14.5 billion records. Emission test records actually alerted the fraud on Boncyk’s Jeep.
“It’s not uncommon to see a rollback (ranging from) 100,000 to 200,000 miles,” said Basso.
Their data suggests the average rollback is about 50,000 miles. Carfax also says vehicles 14-15 years old are most susceptible to odometer fraud sith 60 percent of rollbacks occuring between 11-19 years old.
“It’s criminal,” says Boncyk.
Daria Serna with the Colorado Department of Revenue, which has an Auto Dealer Division, confirms that kind of fraud could affect safety.
“It could affect the value of the car. Many people purchase cars are low mileage because it’s identified as a low mileage car and in good condition,” according to Serna.
The Auto Industry Division investigates odometer fraud with licensed dealers in the state but individuals selling cars usually don’t get caught unless consumers file complaints. That’s exactly what Boncyk now plans to do with the Attorney General’s Office.
He also has a buyers beware for people looking to purchase a used car, “Until car manufacturers come up with tamper proof system in vehicles – do all the homework you can.”
Carfax claims the odometer fraud loss to consumers is $761 million annually. The average loss per car rollback is $4,000 for lost value and maintenance.