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The Federal odometer law, 49 U.S.C. Chapter 327 (Public Law 103-272), prohibits the disconnection, resetting, or alteration of a motor vehicle's odometer with intent to change the number of miles indicated thereon.  The law requires that a written disclosure of the mileage registered on an odometer be provided by the seller to the purchaser on the title to the vehicle when the ownership of a vehicle is transferred.  If the odometer mileage is incorrect, the law requires a statement to that effect to be furnished on the title to the buyer.  However, vehicles ten years old and older are exempt from the written disclosure requirements.

Violations of any of the above requirements may subject the violator to civil liability if it is determined that his/her actions were intended to defraud the purchaser.  The law makes available to the buyer a remedy in the amount of $1,500 or treble damages, whichever is greater, together with attorney's fees.  To obtain this remedy, Section 32710 of the law permits the buyer to bring a private civil action in State or Federal court.  He may do this by contacting his own attorney or the State Attorney General.  The Federal Government has the authority to bring actions for civil and criminal penalties; however, it cannot bring actions on behalf of consumers.  We strongly recommend that you consult your own private attorney to determine your legal rights and remedies in this matter.

Performance and condition of the vehicle alone are not necessarily indications of odometer tampering.  Factual evidence, i.e., statements from previous owner(s), receipts for repairs, service station stickers, or other documents showing a variance in odometer readings must be obtained.  If your vehicle was previously owned, we recommend that you contact your state motor vehicle titling and registration office and obtain all title and title transfer documents pertaining to your vehicle.  You should then contact previous owners to establish and document the true mileage of the vehicle.

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)