There is a glaring reality that some people still might not be aware of, judging by a report from NBC 12's InvestigateTV: Digital odometers are not safe from or protected from mileage rollback. In some cases, it's easier to alter the digital numbers than the old analog method. NBC demonstrates such in an article that says about 1.6 million cars in the U.S. have been affected by odometer fraud.

NBC sourced Carfax as the authority on the matter, and used a 2006 Chevrolet Silverado as an example in a lengthy video detailing the wide-spread national issue. The Silverado starts with 230,323 miles, which partially determines the truck's value of about $3,700 in Richmond, Virginia. The demonstration then shows a mechanic with an easily purchased device changing the car's odometer to read 130,483. It took less than a minute to fabricate the car's history, and in turn, it bumps the used truck's value to more than $8,000 on the resale market.

Such a falsification (and a federal crime) puts the truck and its potential buyers at serious risk. Not only are the buyers paying far more than they should be on less-valuable used cars, they also might not be taking proper care and precautions appropriate for that vehicle.

NBC spoke with a woman who was affected by such a crime. She purchased a 2008 BMW with 136,507 for $9,500. After suffering through many issues with the vehicle, she found out it had once been rolled back from 218,486 miles to 135,764 miles.

"I would never think a digital odometer could actually have a rollback," the woman said.

This raised a red flag we'd like to point out. The woman says she purchased the car, then noticed problems with the vehicle, then looked at the VIN check. This is the complete opposite of what somebody buying a used car should do. Always, always, always check the VIN and the vehicle's history before buying a car. A simple examination fo the history would have shown the mileage was rolled back, and her problems could have been avoided altogether. Carfax even has a specific page for checking odometer fraud.

Let this serve as a reminder or a wake-up call that buying a used car requires proper research and examination. For more information on how to protect yourself from troubled used cars, read our article about how to detect odometer fraud.

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