A Nova Scotia Community College instructor has been called as an expert witness three times in the past two years for alleged digital odometer tampering in the province.
“If it’s possible, I’m sure it’s being done more often than not,” said Dave Giles, an automotive instructor. “It’s not as difficult as it used to be.”
Two of the cases involved private sales while the other involved a dealership, he said.
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The instrument can be tampered with using an odometer correction tool, which can be purchased online for as low as $50 and plugs into the data link connector in cars.
Giles said it’s relatively easy to use the tool to tamper with an odometer.
“RCMP in Nova Scotia have seen a very limited number of cases involving odometers being tampered with digital devices,” said Cst. Mark Skinner, a media relations officer for Halifax District RCMP.
Doing so could meet the definition of fraud under in the Criminal Code of Canada, he added.
While the devices are legal, using them to scam someone isn’t.
“Penalties could range a fine to time in jail,” he said.
John Sutherland, the executive vice president of the Nova Scotia Automobile Dealers Association, said he hasn’t heard of any instance of digital odometer tampering in the province.
The association represents new car franchise dealers, who also sell used cars.
He said nearly half of used cars are sold through private deals.
To prevent getting scammed, he recommended buyers order a car history report prior to purchasing.
“That gives you a little bit of background on the vehicle,” said Sutherland, adding that it would show which show prior odometer numbers.
Despite the easiness of the tool, there are several other computers in cars that keep track of the numbers, and managing to change them all would not be profitable, said Giles.
Of course, getting caught would probably not be cost-efficient either.
Ultimately, with cars generally lasting longer than in prior decades, mileage isn’t as important as it one was, Giles added.