Are you thinking of purchasing a used vehicle in New South Wales (NSW)? It’s crucial to be cautious about odometer fraud, a deceitful practice where someone, usually a used car dealer manipulates a vehicle’s mileage to make it seem less used and more valuable.
This can lead to hefty repair bills, safety concerns, and decreased fuel efficiency.
“Most cases investigated involve sellers working through online platforms like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree, usually using fake profiles and often through third parties,” said Hon. Anoulack Chanthivong, Minister for Better Regulation and Fair Trading.
Luckily, Service NSW has introduced a free and simple feature on their website to help you combat odometer fraud.
In collaboration with Transport for NSW and NSW Fair Trading, they’ve integrated a feature on their website and app that allows you to access the previous three annual odometer readings of any registered vehicle in NSW by entering its number plate.
Previously, people could only access basic information like the vehicle’s make, registration, and insurance details. However, with the new odometer-checking feature, car buyers can now improve their purchasing experience by verifying a vehicle’s legitimacy and true value, easing any worries they might have.
In this article, we’ll talk more about odometer tampering and how using this free feature can benefit you when buying a second-hand car.
Understanding Odometer Fraud and Its Illegality
Odometer fraud is when someone tampers with a vehicle’s mileage to make it seem newer and more valuable. They might physically turn back the odometer, mess with the digital display using special software, or swap it with one from a different vehicle.
In New South Wales (NSW), doing this is a big no-no and goes against the Fair Trading Act 1987 and the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013. It’s not just illegal; it’s a sneaky trick that hurts both buyers and honest sellers.
If you fall for odometer fraud, it can cost you a fortune. Imagine buying a car with 100,000 km less on the odometer than it actually has. You might pay way more than what the car is really worth. Plus, you could run into unexpected problems like the engine acting up, brakes wearing out faster, tires getting damaged, or oil leaks.
Dishonest sellers tamper with the odometer to make the car seem more valuable than it really is. They want to sell it for a higher price. Just remember, the fewer kilometres shown on the odometer, the more expensive they try to make the car look.
The NSW government decided to tackle this issue head-on. They noticed a whopping four times increase in odometer fraud cases between 2021 and 2022. In one case, a shady seller knocked off a massive 400,000 km from a Subaru XV’s odometer and sold it for $32,000, jacking up the price by $11,000 compared to its real value.
In another instance, a 2009 Toyota HiLux was sold again at a staggering price of $30,980, which was five times its initial sale price of $6000. This significant increase in value followed a suspicious reduction of 280,000km on the odometer.
How to Check Service NSW’s Free Odometer Reading
Service NSW’s free odometer reading feature is incredibly user-friendly. All you need is the vehicle’s number plate.
Here is the step-by-step guide
Step 1: Visit the Service NSW website or download the Service NSW app on your smartphone.
Step 2: Scroll down to “Browse Services” and click on “Driving and Transport”
Step 3: Click on “Vehicle Registration”
Step 4: Scroll down to “Vehicle Inspections and Safety Checks” and click on “Check a vehicle registration”
Step 5: Click on the “Check Online” button on the bottom of the page
Step 6: Enter the registration number for the NSW vehicle, agree to the terms and conditions, and then click on “Check Registration.”
Step 7: Scroll down to the “Odometer readings” section and click on “Show more” to find three odometer readings.
Check out the video tutorial below for a clearer understanding:
Benefits of Using Service NSW’s Free Odometer Reading Feature
Service NSW’s initiative to provide a free odometer reading feature is a significant step toward safeguarding consumers from falling prey to odometer fraud. It promotes transparency and trust in the used vehicle market, enabling buyers to make informed decisions and avoid purchasing problematic vehicles (commonly referred to as “lemons”).
Here are the advantages of utilising this feature:
- Verification of Odometer Accuracy: You can confirm the accuracy of the odometer reading before purchasing.
- Prevention of Overpayment: Avoid paying more than the actual value of the vehicle by being informed about the true mileage.
- Anticipation of Maintenance Costs: By knowing the genuine condition of the vehicle, you can anticipate and prepare for potential repairs and maintenance.
- Safety and Fuel Efficiency Assurance: Ensuring that the vehicle is in good condition enhances your safety and fuel efficiency.
- Easy Reporting of Suspicious Activity: You can easily report any suspicious sellers or dealers to NSW Fair Trading, contributing to a safer marketplace.
Odometer fraud in NSW is a serious issue, inflating vehicle prices and posing safety risks for buyers.
This new free online feature allows users to access a vehicle’s last three annual odometer readings, aiding in verification and minimising risks.
A pre-purchase car inspection is strongly recommended for smart buying decisions in the used car market.