Beware of buying a used car with a reversed odometer reading

Because buying a brand-new vehicle is out of reach for most, the used car market presents an affordable platform for many to obtain a set of wheels. No used car is perfect and money has to inevitably be set aside for potential repairs.

It’s also no secret that buying second-hand comes with its fair share of risks simply because you are unaware just how well the previous owner(s) looked after it. Does it have a full service history? Has it been involved in an accident before?

Besides the mechanical aspect, you also have to be mindful of potential scams and one of the most alarming ones is the fact that the mileage reading could’ve been illegally turned back. Most newer cars have digital readings but the more older ones use the analog system. While the equipment to do it is legally sold, there are some sellers who use it to make a car appear more lucrative with a low mileage reading.

Gumtree lists some steps to take to protect yourself from buying a vehicle with its mileage possibly turned back:

OEM dealership check

You can have a specific vehicle’s details drawn up at the OEM dealership using the VIN number or with the more high end models, the mileage can be extracted from the key.

Notify the seller

If you suspect that the said vehicle has had its original mileage tampered with, let the seller know that you will be doing so. Should the seller change his/her mind upon you mentioning it, the chances are high that it was a scam and has been potentially found out.

Size up the vehicle

Older vehicles in particular will almost need to look a certain way to ‘show’ its age. Small things like scuff on the seats or raised door panels happens because of many years of usage. Also, a vehicle from the 70’s with 50 000km on the clock with lots of physical wear and tear, for example, is very rare so its best to also have someone with technical knowledge with you.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local property information close to home.

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