Surely you’ve heard of odometer fraud and what it’s doing to the current used car market. A high mileage vehicle will likely sell for less than the same vehicle with fewer miles so this might tempt sellers to lie about how many miles are on the car. Odometer fraud is important because an odometer counts miles as your car is driven. It's that long, six-digit number below your speedometer. In older cars, they are operated by an analog system, whereas newer odometers read digitally.
It’s possible to crack open the instrument cluster and roll back the numbers if your car has an analog odometer, or if it's digital the car’s computer can be tampered with. To combat this a federal law called the Federal Truth in Mileage Act was introduced in 1986, and because this law is in place every vehicle’s mileage is stored in a database, and is updated every time the vehicle is sold.
An odometer disclosure statement is simply a declaration of a vehicle’s mileage as indicated by its odometer, and if whether or not it’s an accurate reading. If you’ve ever sold a car you’ve actually completed a generic odometer disclosure statement.
On a California vehicle title, the box underneath the two stacked signatures is provided specifically for the odometer disclosure statement.
Odometer disclosure is required by law with the exception for some vehicles, which means if it’s violated will result in fines and possibly imprisonment. However, not all vehicles are subject to mandatory odometer disclosure. For instance in California, vehicles that are 10 years old or older are not required to have mileage disclosed.
Commercial vehicles with weight limits aren't required either, along with vehicles sold by a manufacturer direct to an agency and a new vehicle transferred before its first retail sale. Some circumstances may ask that you fill out an odometer reading form.
If your title is missing, you can apply for a duplicate title in California by filling out a REG 262 form.
This form is also useful if you need to update the odometer disclosure section on the title, or if specifically, the section for indicating mileage does not have a place for the buyer to sign.
You’ll also notice on a California title that there are three options for indicating if whether or not the odometer is accurate. After you write the numbers as indicated by the vehicle’s odometer, you can say the mileage is the “actual mileage”, which approves the number as accurate, you can also say the indicated mileage exceeds the mechanical limits which means it has “rolled over”, or reached the highest number it’s capable of and started over.
Finally, you may indicate that the mileage is “not actual mileage”, where the odometer has broken or been replaced, or if the owner doesn’t know the vehicle’s true mileage.
Remember that odometer tampering can result in fines and /or imprisonment, so it’s important, to be honest about your vehicle’s mileage. It’s OK if you don’t know what the real number is, but make sure you indicate as such on the title upon its sale. You can also get a history report on your vehicle to see what the past recorded mileage was.
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