‘That is alarming’: Odometer rollbacks are on the rise in Central Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — Action 9 exposes a used car scam that costs buyers thousands of dollars before they drive off the dealer’s lot.

It was a punch to the gut. Hours after Kenneth Truesdale bought a 2012 Ram pickup truck, it had to be towed hundreds of miles to his home in North Carolina. He paid nearly $18,000 for the truck to a used car dealership in Orlando.

“I was just going to lose my money and it was the worst purchase of my life so far,” Truesdale said.

A repair shop in North Carolina told Truesdale it suspected odometer fraud and that there was no way the truck had just 109,000 miles.

Truesdale found a Carfax report online. According to the report, his truck had sold at auction with an odometer reading of 191,000 miles.

He said that’s not what he heard at Liz Auto Sales near Orange Ave.

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“I asked him if that was the correct mileage on the truck, and his exact words were, ‘Sure, why wouldn’t it be,’” Truesdale said.

Truesdale is suing Liz Auto Sales for not disclosing that odometer fraud had occurred at some point by someone, somewhere.

His attorney, Jared Lee, claims the actual mileage would have been obvious to any licensed car dealer.

“It would be available to any auto dealer through various programs like CARFAX, and it would have shown them it’s a rolled-back vehicle,” Lee said.

There’s a growing risk it could happen to any auto buyer. According to CARFAX, 17,400 vehicles are on the road in Central Florida with potential rollbacks.

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“That’s about a 17% increase from 2019, so that is alarming. We are heading in the wrong direction,” said Emilie Voss with CARFAX.

Voss blames the bad trend on digital odometers.

“There is a huge misconception that digital odometers can’t be rolled back, that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” she said.

CARFAX had an auto expert demonstrate how quickly odometers can be manipulated.

“If you look on the odometer right now, I’ve got 265,000 showing and we got to 85,000, that quick,” said the auto expert.

He erased 180,000 miles on the odometer in seconds. “That’ll change the value on this truck about $8,500,” he said.

Before you buy a car, check online reports like CARFAX. Make sure the vehicle’s wear and tear matches the odometer reading and get an independent inspection.

Todd Ulrich went to Liz Auto Sales near Orlando for answers.

“I’m trying to figure out how this dealership didn’t know it was missing tens of thousands of miles,” Ulrich asked the employee at the dealership.

Later, the dealership told Ulrich it had disclosed that those weren’t the actual miles on Truesdale’s truck.

Truesdale denies that and claims he overpaid for the vehicle by at least $10,000.

“Would you have ever bought that truck knowing the true mileage?” Ulrich asked.

“No sir. I would have walked away and drove back home,” Truesdale replied.

Auto buyers should be wary of vehicles older than 10 years because federal and state regulations don’t require the same odometer disclosures.

Consumers in Florida can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the agency that regulates auto dealers.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.