Plan could prevent dodgy operators tampering with car odometers, after a licensed motor dealer shaved more than 500,000km off a vehicle’s clock.
Plan could prevent dodgy operators tampering with car odometers, after a licensed motor dealer shaved more than 500,000km off a vehicle’s clock.

Simple fix that could stop speedo tampering

Compulsory odometer readings should be included with vehicle registration renewals to prevent backyard dealers tampering with speedos, according to a leading motoring group.

Motor Trades Association Queensland CEO Dr Brett Dale said odometer tampering was a serious issue and their proposal was a safeguard for consumers against unscrupulous sellers.

"This is more prevalent than is reported," Mr Dale said.

"This is being done by the lesser known businesses and certainly backyarders who are undermining the market.

"Consumers are none the wiser, when they buy a car, that the odometer has been tampered with."

Mr Dale said the MTAQ verbally raised the proposal with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) late last year and the topic was slated for further discussion in February.

It was only last month that the OFT prosecuted a licensed motor dealer, who was not a member of the MTAQ, for shaving more than 500,000kms off a speedo.

Brent Hayes, 64, was fined $3000 in the Cairns Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to winding back the odometer of a Toyota Camry, he bought in November 2018, from 627,000 to 86,000. He sold it a month later for $10,000.

It was the fourth prosecution for odometer tampering by the OFT since 2018 but it was also the smallest fine.

"By recording it annually it reduces the window of opportunity for odometers to be wound back and it gives consumers more confidence," he said.

Mr Dale said unprincipled sellers were preying on buyers who placed a lot of weight on the number of kilometres a vehicle had travelled before making a purchase.

Winding back an odometer, even just 20,000 kilometres to bring it under 50,000km or 100,000km, made it a vehicle a far more attractive proposition for a buyer, he said.

"There are some milestones that are appealing for consumers, like buying a vehicle under 50,000 or 100,000 kilometres, and, depending on the age of the vehicle, that may not be a significant tampering to bring it back under those figures," he said.

RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said the MTAQ’s suggestion was good in theory but also likely to be too costly to implement. Photo: Supplied
RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said the MTAQ’s suggestion was good in theory but also likely to be too costly to implement. Photo: Supplied

RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said the proposal had merit, but maybe too difficult and costly for the government to implement.

Not only would software have to be upgraded to accommodate odometer readings, the information would have to be publicly available to cover private sales, he said.

"With between four and five million vehicles renewed every year, you have a very substantial admin task, because you need a back-end system to record it and then make it physically available to cross check against," Mr Spalding said.

He said there were already certain catchment points for odometer readings including the transfer of a car, obtaining a safety certificate and a dealer's service history.

However, he said there could be issues when a vehicle was imported from interstate to be sold in Queensland.

"If you're buying or selling a vehicle with interstate history then there is going to be gaps in record keeping," he said.

"There' no substitutes for a buyer than physical checks and an independent assessment because a vehicle with low mileage may have been treated very harshly while a vehicle with a high mileage may have been cared for."

A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said odometer readings were recorded when a vehicle was first registered in Queensland and also at the transfer of an ownership.


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