How to check the mileage of a car


Car mileage check

The first thing to look for when buying a used car is mileage. The real figure can say a lot, and this, naturally, is used by unscrupulous sellers.

It's no secret that "twisting" the odometer readings is not a problem for our "garage masters" at all. The price of the issue is several tens of dollars, while you can “weld” on a car with low mileage a whole thousand, or even more.

Let's figure out how, without using special devices, to find out the mileage that the car actually traveled in its life, so as not to fall for the bait of scammers.

Why do sellers roll up mileage?

How to check the mileage of a car

In the aftermarket, twisted mileage is common. Unscrupulous sellers do this for two reasons.

  1. Make the car look "younger". According to the requirements of most automakers, once a car has covered about 120 kilometers, maintenance must be done, which costs a lot of money. Approaching this threshold, the owner of the car changes the mileage downward in order to sell the old car at the price of "fresh".
  2. Make the car "older". Sometimes dishonest car owners twist the odometer towards a higher figure. This is done to convince the buyer of the timely completion of maintenance, although in reality this is not the case. In the absence of a service book, you will have to take our word for it.

To date, the opportunity to buy a car at American auctions has gained popularity. Some single sellers take this opportunity to sell a high-mileage car as recently purchased in a showroom. It is often possible to find an old vehicle with decent looks abroad, so some take advantage of this option to reap significant benefits.

How to check the mileage of a car

How is the odometer adjusted?

Attackers "correct" the odometer value in two ways:

  • Mechanical. This method is used in the case of an analog device. The odometer is designed in such a way that, reaching a value of 1, the dial switches to counting a new segment, starting from zero. Fraudsters disconnect the cable from the gearbox and rotate its core (for example, with a drill) until the counter is reset. After that, the numbers are twisted to the desired value. Some "experts" disassemble the dashboard and simply turn the numbers on the drums to the desired position.
How to check the mileage of a car
  • Electronic. Today, there are many programs with which you can work with the "brains" of the car so that the electronic odometer shows the number necessary for the owner. Unfortunately, today there are even such companies that perform such a service for an additional fee.
How to check the mileage of a car

Signs Indicating Odometer Curl

When buying a used car with a mechanical odometer, first of all, you should pay attention to:

  • Speedometer cable condition. This part does not need to be replaced often. If there are clear signs that it was removed (maybe even a new one was installed), then you should ask the seller what was the reason.
  • Was the dashboard disassembled? There is no need to remove it in a new car, so the characteristic signs of interference are a reason for asking the seller.
  • What the odometer numbers look like. If they were scrolled, they will stand crookedly.
  • Condition of the timing belt and brake discs. These items will primarily show high mileage. The belt is changed after 70-100 thousand km., And grooves appear on the discs after about 30. In most cases, their replacement is an expensive procedure, therefore it is often not carried out before the sale.
  • Condition of the suspension and chassis of the vehicle. Of course, it is worth considering which roads he drove. Due to the poor quality of the coating, a new car may look like it has traveled more than one hundred thousand kilometers.
How to check the mileage of a car

If the car is modern and equipped with an electronic meter, then you can check the real mileage at the service station, where computer diagnostics are carried out. Most often, scammers use budget equipment to hide the real mileage. Such software basically erases data in the memory of the control unit.

It is worth considering that this information is recorded not only by the electronic control unit, but also by other auto modules (depending on the model of the car), for example, the brake system or gearbox control and transfer case. To detect signs of interference, it is enough for a specialist to connect his laptop to the ECU, scan all systems, and the program will show traces of the counter reset.

What are the ways to find out and determine the real mileage

How to check the mileage of a car

There is no universal method for detecting odometer tampering. For an accurate check, you should use the available methods in combination to expose the fraudster in deception. Here are the methods:

  • VIN check. This procedure will help in the case of cars that are under warranty and undergo MOT at official car services.
  • Availability of documentation on the passage of MOT. This is the perfect way to prove if the mileage is twisted or not. But not every motorist stores such information. This method will help if the seller claims that the car's warranty was only recently released.
  • Computer diagnostics will reveal traces of interference if the attacker did not use expensive equipment that changes information in all possible control modules. Such "specialists" are extremely rare because complex equipment is expensive.
  • Indirect evidence of active use - wear of the steering wheel, pedals, body and interior elements. Such a check does not necessarily indicate a high mileage, because the external condition of the car depends on the accuracy of its owner. A new car can look like an old one and vice versa.

Verification with documents

How to check the mileage of a car
As the saying goes, numbers never lie. This rule also works in the case of car mileage. Ask the seller to provide a service book for the vehicle and PTS. These documents will allow you to establish the exact year of manufacture of the machine. It should be remembered that with an average statistical use, a car travels from 15 to 16 thousand kilometers per year. We need to calculate how many years the car is sold, then we multiply this figure by the above value, as a result of which we get the mileage that the car should have traveled. For example, if the meter of a car in 2010 shows a mileage of 50 thousand. km, then it was clearly curled up.

Another verification option that can catch an unscrupulous seller by surprise. Read the document for the last oil change. Often, this brochure indicates at what mileage the replacement was made. That is, if the odometer reads 100 thousand kilometers, and the oil was changed at 170, then the conclusion becomes obvious.

The actual mileage of the car can also be found in the service book. After scheduled maintenance, the foremen often indicate the mileage that she has covered.

The following check method is applicable only for German cars. Basically, these cars are sold after a run of 100-150 thousand km. If there is a different indicator on the counter, this is a reason to suspect the seller of lies. You can always unmistakably find out the country of issue of the vehicle in your passport.

Computer verification

How to check the mileage of a car
The real mileage of the car can be established by connecting to the electronic unit. You don't need anything special for this - a laptop and an OBD-2 USB cable. The price of the latter is around $ 2-3. So, after connecting, the control unit will give all true information about the mileage that the car has covered. However, you should not rely heavily on this method, since our "craftsmen" have learned to dump data there as well. Nevertheless, it can work, and it certainly won't be superfluous.

We also recommend paying attention to other systems. Often, it is in them that the data cannot be changed.

For example, you can scan the system for crashes and errors. In many cars, this data is recorded at a certain mileage. If all the data is missing, most likely they have been deleted.

How to check the mileage of a car

The more complex the electronics in a car, the more difficult it will be to create a believable car history. For example, the owner of the car claims that the real mileage is 70, and quite recently the next MOT was done. During computer diagnostics, the control module of, say, the brake system shows that an error was recorded at 000.

Such inconsistencies are clear evidence of attempts to hide the real indicator of the electronic odometer.

Machine inspection


How to check the mileage of a car
If the rubber pads have worn down to metal, and the seller says that the car has rolled 50 thousand kilometers, this is a serious reason to think. This level of wear indicates a mileage of 300 thousand or more. You should also be alerted to the new pedal pads. Perhaps the deceiver is trying to hide the real mileage in this way.

Steering wheel

How to check the mileage of a car
The condition of the steering wheel will give out with giblets a "difficult" biography of the car sold. The first step is to look at the skin - the wear on it becomes visible only after 5 years of active use, which is equivalent to about 200 thousand kilometers. If scuffs on the "9 o'clock" zone stand out the most, this is a clear sign that the car has traveled long distances. Depreciation at 9 and 3 o'clock indicates that city trips were added to the vehicle biography. Most of all, you should be wary of cases when the steering wheel is worn around the entire perimeter - this may indicate that the car went in a taxi. This check will not take long.

It is worth remembering that changing the steering wheel is almost pointless. It is too expensive and the costs will not pay off even if the machine is successfully sold. The only exceptions are premium cars.


How to check the mileage of a car
The driver's seat will also help determine the approximate mileage of the purchased car. Here, too, it is worth remembering some numbers. So, velor "lives" approximately 200 thousand. After that, defects begin to appear - first of all, the side roller, which is closer to the door, "dies". Leather lasts a little longer, not its main enemies - rivets from jeans and other metal objects.

It is also worth comparing the state of the steering wheel and the driver's seat - they should be approximately at the same level. If the difference is large, this is a reason to ask the seller questions and be wary. Therefore, do not be too lazy to look under the covers.


How to check the mileage of a car
How do you know if the seller has twisted the run? It's definitely not worth taking a word. Better to carefully inspect the body of the vehicle. Pay attention to the condition of the plastic in the cabin, especially on the handles and gearboxes - the wear will give the real life of the car.

The windshield is also worth looking at. After 5 years of use, scratches and deep chips will remain on it.

It will be useful to inspect the inside of the dashboard. Wear and damage on bolts and rivets will give out the real mileage of the car with giblets.

Verification by specialists

How to check the mileage of a car
The surest way to check the mileage of a car is to entrust it to professionals. Contact a dealer service center, where the official representatives of the car brand in your city will check all the ins and outs of the vehicle. Here they will check the engine number, determine whether third-party devices have been connected to the car and, of course, they will tell you how much it has "dashed".

If it is not possible to contact dealers, other car services can help you. Based on the compression indicators of the engine, the specialist can determine the mileage of the car. Also, the service station can check the CO level. If the car has a high mileage, this indicator will increase 2 times, or even more.


When buying a vehicle that has already been used, the driver deliberately runs the risk of being deceived. Before taking such a step, it is better to arm yourself with knowledge that will help identify the fraudulent intentions of the seller. Correcting all of the above nuances will cost an unscrupulous seller too much, and therefore will be inappropriate. Use these tips and take your time, because a car is not a cheap pleasure, and you should clearly know what you are paying for.



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