"not actual mileage" title -- how it affects value of used car

I did a CARFAX on a used car I’m interested; it returned a “not actual mileage” title warning. On the web I see dire mutterings, but no real info about the effect of such a title on resale value. The seller is asking for a price that Edmunds.com gives for a car with a “clean” title; on the other hand, he claims to have no knowledge about or interest in the title (he says he got it from a used car dealer). Any info/advice?

All that means is that there’s evidence that the odometer may have been changed, possibly replaced. It should bring the price down considerably, however in the end it comes down to your comfort level with the condition of the car.

I don’t like buying anything expensive with any known “unknown”. It always carrys an element of risk. I would NEVER buy something with an “unknown” at full market price.

Carfax should give some mileage indications for some events like state emissions testing and vehicle sale. Some of these can be dubious. I’ve had emissions testing done where they wrote down the wrong mileage. Look for other signs of wear like brake pedal. Mileage is about worthless for determining remaining useful life. I buy nothing but high mileage vehicles. It does bother the general public still if you flip a car in a couple of years.

Basically, the way CarFax detects odometer discrepancies is by collecting mileages and dates from title transactions or when the car is brought in for service at a shop that participates with them. Then basically if there’s a mileage entry that’s lower but at a later date, it flags it as incorrect mileage. Now, it is ENTIRELY possible, I’d even say fairly common, that at some point someone typed in the wrong mileage and screwed everything up. You should be able to get the actual entries for the car and, unless there was an odometer repair at some point, I’ll bet you’ll see the one entry that’s obviously wrong.

CarFax can be handy for detecting major deliberate fraud such as “cleaned” salvage titles and blatant odometer rollbacks, but other than that it is not as useful a tool as they would imply. It is certainly no substitute for a mechanic’s inspection. Also, just as a side-note, odometer rollbacks aren’t nearly as common as they used to be because it’s much harder to do and because cars last so much longer, rolling back mileage doesn’t usually inflate a cars’s value enough anymore to make it worth it. Not to say that it doesn’t still happen sometimes.

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Well, the car is an '03. The only mileage noted by CARFAX was 6,922 in 2004, during service at a dealer. Then in February this year the original owner sold it to a used car dealer and it was titled “not original mileage” with 40,000 listed, and the current owner bought it from the dealer with 40,300 miles reported. The current owner, the one who’s selling it, says he has no idea about why the title is “not actual”. He says that when he bought it he had it checked by a local mechanic, who I’ve been told by others is reliable, who said it was a safe buy.

“Not actual mileage” means WALK AWAY. “Not actual mileage” means this vehicle could have 100,000 miles more than the odometer indicates. It’s the same as saying "true mileage unknown.’ You will NEVER know the true mileage on this vehicle. Forget it and walk away.

I have a 2001 Civic with an ‘erratic cluster gage’ - apparently a known problem in this year car as my mechanic found a ‘possible fix’ online from Honda, involving something to do with the radio, that did not work for my car. So NONE of my gages are accurate - speedometer!!, odometer, fuel (Yes, really), etc., and the problem is worse in cold weather - some will usually start after warming up and some miles driven, but only some, and intermittently, and it picks up where it left off only. The only way to fix it is to replace the entire gage cluster, estimated at $550 if I recall correctly. This has been an ongoing problem for about three (or more?) years, as my routine maintenance records will show. I recently bought another car and kept the Civic as a back-up, but should I ever go to sell, I’m hoping the actual odometer reading can be estimated from my previous years of driving records. This is frustrating as there was clearly no intent to ‘rollback’ or defraud, just a reluctance to spend a lot of money, as I learned to live with the inconveniences (I drive around for over an hour in order for the gages to work when I have it inspected). Has anyone else had this problem, and what did you do?

Here is my experience of the situation. I just bought a 2001 Chevy Camaro with 101,024 miles on it. It was on a salvage title, the previous owner explained what had happened to me and I was fine with it. It DID NOT have a not actual mileage odometer reading. I went to the DMV to get a title transfer yesterday. The woman told me to write down the number of miles on the odometer. I wrote down 100… opps. I realized right there that I had made a mistake and I wrote over the final 0 with a 1 and then finished it with 024.

I went to the DMV today and I dealt with a different woman. She tried to tell me the odometer reading had been tampered with because of the mistake I made in writing the number. I tried to argue for a little bit, realizing that the reading would effect the outcome of the title I get which may effect the sale price, if I ever choose to sell it. She turned on the bitch works, she went with the non-compromise attitude telling me I can either get a new title from the guy (Who happened to be a doctor a few states over who I never met and who I heard doesn’t like dealing with people) or I could accept a title that says “not actual mileage” on the odometer reading. SO, in conclusion, your issue with a “not actual mileage” odometer reading could be a shadester or could be the fault of some mistake in writing. I would take appropriate precautions, ask more about it, find out why exactly the car has this,you can still consider the car.

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90% this is pure larceny, as said before WALK AWAY. You are not that lucky.


ahem . . .