Consumers in the market for used cars might assume that digital odometers have rendered the ‘rolling-back-the-mileage’ scam a thing of the past, but one driver’s experience with his SUV purchase may give them pause.

Niall Collum of Schomberg, Ont. purchased a 2007 Land Rover LR3 from a dealership in September. Shortly after, the vehicle’s instrument panel began having problems.

“It started flickering over and back and on and off,” he told CTV Toronto on Wednesday.

The Land Rover dealership agreed to repair and later replace the instrument panel. However, months later, the new panel also appeared to have problems.

That’s when Collum said he noticed the odometer reading jump from 188,000 kilometres to 278,000 kilometres.

“It’s three years’ mileage more on it. It’s three years and an extra owner on it,” he said. “The car was now worth not even half of what I bought it for.”

When contacted by CTV Toronto, Jaguar Land Rover Canada said it appears that Collum had a “non-authorized” odometer change and that he should go back to the dealership where he purchased the vehicle.

The dealership agreed to work with Collum to fix the problem. A spokesperson for the dealership told CTV Toronto that the Land Rover LR3 was a trade-in.

“If the odometer reading is incorrect it's something we take very seriously,” the statement from the dealership read.

The dealership also said they contacted the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), the Used Car Dealers Association of Ontario (UCDA), and the customer who traded in the vehicle to find a solution.

Despite their efforts, Collum said it’s been six months and the problem hasn’t been resolved.

The dealership said they’re having trouble verifying the actual mileage on the SUV and the person who traded in the vehicle is no longer in the country.

Collum said he should be compensated for the additional 90,000 kilometres he believes are on his SUV.

“If they did take it in on a trade, it’s their profession, it’s their job to know this,” he said.

Odometer tampering

A year ago, John Fitzgerald from the GTA told CTV Toronto that the odometer reading for his used Range Rover went from 92,000 kilometres to 270,000 kilometres after he replaced the instrument panel with a used one.

Land Rover Canada said at the time that the onboard computers on Fitzgerald’s vehicle copied “their stored mileage to the second-hand part.” In the end, Fitzgerald was told he’d have to replace three computer modules at a cost of $6,000 to restore the old odometer reading.

“A car that should have 92,000 kilometres has 270,000, so when I do sell it, it’s like huge money I’m losing, like $10,000,” he said.

How to avoid falling victim

To avoid buying a used a vehicle with a tampered odometer, OMVIC recommends that customers request a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) from ServiceOntario or a CARFAX Canada history report.

Private sellers are required by law to provide a UVIP to buyers, but there have been instances where the documents have been altered so customers may want to obtain their own, OMVIC said.

Additionally, OMVIC suggests that buyers should have the vehicle inspected by an experienced mechanic or technician before purchase to look for unusual wear that may be indicative of an odometer rollback.

Signs of advanced wear that may be inconsistent with a vehicle’s supposed mileage:

  • Worn upholstery or steering wheel
  • Worn suspension components
  • Pitted/sand-blasted looking windshield
  • Worn rubber pad(s) on brake/gas/clutch pedal(s)