How to Check Actual Mileage of a Car and Spot Fraud

June 16, 2024

When purchasing a used car, one of the most important details to verify is the vehicle's mileage, as it can directly impact its value and condition. Unfortunately, mileage fraud is an issue on the rise in the UK, with cars being clocked by significant amounts, sometimes even by 100,000 miles. To protect yourself from being a victim of this fraud, you need to know how to check actual mileage of a car effectively.

Understanding Mileage Fraud

Mileage fraud involves tampering with a car's odometer to display a lower mileage than what the vehicle has actually traveled. This manipulation can make a car appear newer and less used, thus fetching a higher price. Reasons for the rise in mileage tampering include the ease of manipulating digital odometers, financial incentives from exceeding mileage limits, and lack of consumer experience in evaluating vehicle value and wear.

how to check actual mileage of a car

How to Check Actual Mileage of a Car

It's crucial to take certain steps to verify the mileage of a car:

  • Checking Display Reports: Use tools like the ThinkDiag Act 2 and obd11 adapters that can access live data from different control modules.
  • Comparing Online Records with MOT Checks: Review consistent records and previous MOT tests.
  • Reviewing Documentation: Ensure all paperwork, including service records and receipts, aligns with the odometer reading.
  • Comparing Average Mileage to Actual Mileage: The inconsistency between a car’s condition and its reported mileage can be a red flag.
  • Looking for Appropriate Wear and Tear: Inspect elements like the steering wheel, brake pedal, and driver's seat for clues of actual use.

how to check actual mileage of a car
"car mileage Perodua Kenari 2003" by satguru is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Risks and Consequences

Falling victim to odometer tampering can lead to overpaying for a vehicle and encountering potential safety hazards due to overused parts. Additionally, malfunctioning vehicle modules can arise from inaccuracies in mileage data. It's vital to understand that while tampering with an odometer isn’t illegal by itself, using it for fraudulent purposes during a sale is.

how to check actual mileage of a car
"New car mileage" by ajschu is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Professional Assistance and Avoiding Fraud

Using reliable OBD2 scanners to analyze control modules is indispensable in verifying a car's mileage. Devices like the ThinkDiag Act 2 and obd11 adapters can help ensure you're getting accurate live data. While DIY methods are useful, consulting with a trusted mechanic is highly advisable for a thorough inspection. It's also recommended to purchase from reputable dealers, as their reputations are on the line if caught in fraudulent activities.

how to check actual mileage of a car
"Norwegian Rental Car Mileage" by milst1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Dangers of Odometer Rollbacks

An odometer rollback is one of the most deceptive practices used to scam car buyers. Apart from checking the odometer reading, always look for physical signs of tampering, such as new tires on a high-mileage car or obvious wear that contradicts the reported mileage. Odometer fraud is illegal and, although challenging to prove in court, can be avoided through diligent research and thorough inspections before purchasing a used vehicle.

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