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Misaligned odometers - always a sign of tampering?

 
Old 02-11-2019, 08:16 PM
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RedRedRed
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Default Misaligned odometers - always a sign of tampering?

Iíve been looking for a C4, and Iíve noticed that a lot of the 84 Ė 89 cars with very low miles (below 20K) show photos of odometers with misaligned digits. Sometimes itís not much, but just enough to notice. Seems like the digits on higher mileage cars are in a perfectly straight line.

Iíve always believed that whenever the digits on a mechanical odometer are misaligned itís evidence of tampering. It makes you think that might be why it shows low miles, right? I know there's supposed to be some kind of indicator that pops up if an odometer is tampered with, but I'm sure there are ways around that.

But now seeing so many that are misaligned, Iím wondering if on cars with very low miles the odometer gets dried out and stiff, like everything else on seldom-driven old cars, resulting in the misalignment as the tumblers turn.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:25 PM
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aklim
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Is there any way you can use a CarFox to see if there has been any service done? So if the odo says 20000 and there is someone who did a service at 30000, you know there is something fishy? Or do what I do, Assume the PO is a liar and/or a moron. What are you looking for in a low mileage car? The lower the miles (real or not) the higher the price.
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:28 AM
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zachaeous
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When I purchased my last 84 in 2011 I noticed the same thing on the odometer pertaining to alignment. I asked the person I was buying it from and his answer was " I have no reason to doubt the mileage". The odometer showed around 57,000 miles and I could tell that that was not true. I later tracked down the previous owner and he stated the car had around 90,000 miles on it when he last owned it.

Car fax did not help me due to the age of the car. There was no report that had any mileages listed on it. Be sure and do your pp inspection or have someone else you trust inspect the car.

In my case the car and price fit my needs, so the inaccurate mileage was not a factor for me.
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:19 AM
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Dt86
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You can also do a title search. I was able to track the mileage on my car that way.
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:32 AM
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Before I bought my 91 in October of last year a CarFax was very helpful because the garage former owner used reported the work done. The mileage shown on the service records fit with mileage on odometer. Although I can see if previous owner(s) did all their own maintenance grabbing a CarFax might not be as helpful. However the report would show mileage each time it trading hands.

Getting one in my mind is worth the cost just to know any history it finds.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:11 PM
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To answer your question, no, misaligned numbers do not indicate tampering. I've had numerous cars that did this. They usually realign the next time they roll over.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by zachaeous View Post
When I purchased my last 84 in 2011 I noticed the same thing on the odometer pertaining to alignment. I asked the person I was buying it from and his answer was " I have no reason to doubt the mileage". The odometer showed around 57,000 miles and I could tell that that was not true. I later tracked down the previous owner and he stated the car had around 90,000 miles on it when he last owned it.

Car fax did not help me due to the age of the car. There was no report that had any mileages listed on it. Be sure and do your pp inspection or have someone else you trust inspect the car.

In my case the car and price fit my needs, so the inaccurate mileage was not a factor for me.
Mileage is not a factor in these cases. The fact that you gave me such a vague answer that is deceptive that makes me feel you are worse than my original estimate of stupid and/or a crook. Makes me ask "What else is he lying about?". At that point, I'd walk or it better be scrap priced
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Old 02-12-2019, 01:48 PM
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belairbrian
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I would not trust or care about the odometer reading on a 30 year old car. Unless there is an incredible documentation trail you have no idea whether the odometer is accurate.
At some point was the cluster replaced? I have heard c4 clusters fail on occasion.
Search Ebay and you will find a c4 odometer for sale with 40K miles on it. Shipped it costs $35.
While I'm sure everyone out there always follows the law on odometer replacement and adds appropriate stickers or markings, one or two might slip by. But then again the AL attorney General just reported 14,000 cases of odometer fraud that were detected in the last year. And those are only the known ones.
The condition of the car matters way more than what a bunch of little wheels say.

Later cars store the mileage in the computer, but then again those can be changed out as well.

Last edited by belairbrian; 02-12-2019 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 12:30 PM
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Kevova
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On cars that don't have 100k wheel on odometer. Documentation is important. Misaligned wheels without a picture is hard to say. For someone who knows what he's doing resetting mileage is not difficult. He will also be sure wheels are aligned. Pick marks on wheels could indicate someone was playing with mileage.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:15 PM
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Back in the 90's a friend of mine had the dash out of his '84 Olds and took the odometer out. For giggles he tried to roll it backwards and red plastic lines popped up between the numbers. They went away once he flipped it back to the original mileage. Don't know if GM did that to all their odometers back then or not.
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Old 02-13-2019, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by ihatebarkingdogs View Post
A 1986 Convertible with "9,000 miles" on it just sold on BaT for 17,750. It had service records for $10,000 of work including cyl head R&R, 2 sets of spark plugs, shocks, stuff, stuff, stuff. On a 8,000 mile car? I find it incredible that every 30+ year old Corvette now for sale has less than 20,000 miles on it. Suckers.
As long as there are people wanting low mileage cars and not insist on official verification, there will be someone who will manufacturer it.


Last edited by aklim; 02-13-2019 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:52 PM
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gpierce
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On these odometers, the built in tamper evidence is silver in between the numbers. The black between them is only on one part of the metal tabs between the numbers. However, I can tell you that on a Pontiac Fiero which basically uses the same odo, it is possible to move the numbers around and still align the black on those metal tabs. There is also a little plastic thingy across all the tabs and supposedly this would break if you removed it to move the numbers, but again also possible to get it off without breaking.

Condition is everything, those numbers unless well documented mean little.
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Old 02-14-2019, 03:10 PM
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By carefully dissembling the tumblers, one can set the digi-dash odometer to any mileage you choose.
I did this and noted the changes on the door next to the VIN tag.

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Old 02-14-2019, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by JrRifleCoach View Post
By carefully dissembling the tumblers, one can set the digi-dash odometer to any mileage you choose.
I did this and noted the changes on the door next to the VIN tag.

I had a 2011 HD and I changed the speedo to an electronic one. When I put that speedo with tach on, the thing wouldn't work until you went through some procedure. After that, it was "married" to the ECM. Wouldn't that be the case with the cars too or can I just swap a new odometer and start the ball rolling again?
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:33 PM
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belairbrian
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Originally Posted by aklim View Post
I had a 2011 HD and I changed the speedo to an electronic one. When I put that speedo with tach on, the thing wouldn't work until you went through some procedure. After that, it was "married" to the ECM. Wouldn't that be the case with the cars too or can I just swap a new odometer and start the ball rolling again?
I have replaced my entire cluster with a new (rebuilt) one. When I turned the key, the odometer displayed the same value as the old cluster. Leading me to conclude the value was stored in the computer module not the dash.

For some Japanese cars it is stored in the dash, making it about the same effort to swap in a low mile odometer as it is with mechanicals.

I think the buyer of any given vehicle should do some research to find how the odometer is controlled. if accuracy is a concern.

When I was looking for a car for my daughter I looked at a Civic with 133K and it was touted by the salesperson. Then they gave me the cars history and there were service records up through over 400K
I said something and they acted like it was no big deal. I stood up and walked out.
.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JrRifleCoach View Post
By carefully dissembling the tumblers, one can set the digi-dash odometer to any mileage you choose.
I did this and noted the changes on the door next to the VIN tag.

you dont have to disassemble the tumblers. It's just a matter of rotating the shaft with the black tabs to line up the zeros. I've done it a couple times to cars whose titles were marked as having incorrect odometer. (I reset them back to zero.)
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