Odometer roll back

My son just purchased a 1999 Toyota Camry. The odometer reads some 126k miles but when I saw the title it read 180k (but this is a new title so maybe someone just wrote down the miles wrong when they applied for the title) but in the engine compartment there is a sticker from a past mechanic saying the timing belt was done back in 2012 at 186k miles. So this odometer has been rolled back - but how can this be done on an electronic/computer odometer? I thought this was now impossible.

Digital odometers can be rolled back by removing the vehicle’s circuit board to change the odometer reading, or using rollback equipment that hooks right into the vehicle’s electronic circuit.

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one thing to verify is that all of these numbers are indeed miles, and not some are miles and some are kilometers.

but, with a shady enough mechanic with the right software, rolling the odometer back can be done. and I think (someone feel free to correct me if I am wrong,) that the odometer readings are kept in the cars ECM/PCM. If this has been replaced with one out of a used car, and not updated properly, the dash could read the odometer of the donor car.


Just a devil’s advocate question…

Are you sure the sticker isn’t saying the timing belt will need to be replaced at 186K miles?

Reason being is 60K miles is generally the change interval for a timing belt. That would match up pretty closely with the 126K that you’re seeing on it today.

Good point on kilometers. With the electronics though I think you can just replace the chip or the odometer. In Minnesota anyway you are supposed to report the mileage according to the odometer but then indicate if the true mileage was unknown, due to repairs, etc.

Thanks everyone. I had no idea electronic odometers could be rolled back. Thanks. You learn something new everyday…

It is likely the instrument cluster was replaced because of a malfunction.


Good news on the timing belt replacement, though! So there’s a bright side.

I replaced my instrument cluster and then had the mileage set to the proper value for my car. It can be done with the right software.

yes, but perhaps the written notes were made in Kilometers, and somewhere along the lines the odometer was changed back into miles. On some of my fleet trucks, the change is as simple as holding down the trip meter rest for a certain length of time. 126,000 miles is 202,777 kilometers.

This car is almost 23 years old. It’s old enough to vote and go drinking in bars. When I shopped for used cars, U took a roll of masking tape and covered over the odometer reading. One of the best car purchases I ever made was a 1968 AMC Javelin I bought in 1971. The dealer wanted $1695. This was in May and the odometer read 33,000. I rooted through the glove compartment and found.from the state inspection record that it had been inspected the previous February with 55,000 miles. The price dropped from $1695 and my 1961 Corvair to $1200 and my worn out Corvair that was worth maybe $50. I put another 100,000 miles on the Javelin and sold it for$600 six years later.
In 1955, my parents bought a used 1954 Buick from a family friend. The odometer read 24,000 which was quite a few miles back then for a year’s use. These friends had driven the Buick from Indiana to California and back and from Indiana to Florida and back. My dad reasoned that the miles were road miles and these miles were easier on s car than stop and start around town trips. I bought the Buick from my dad 10 years later and I drove the car to 160,000 miles. It never had any engine repair and didn’t use oil. It was still on the street 2 years after I sold it.
My point is that the way the miles were racked up is more important than the number of miles on the odometer.

At the farm store this afternoon I parked next to a red Miata (is that what they are) convertible. The owner was coming out at the same time so I talked to him about it (an old guy probably trolling for girls). He said it had 63,000 on the odometer but he suspected it was 163,000. I told him not to worry, plenty of life left but hurry up and have fun before the snow flies.

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the mileage on the dash display is really less than the actual mileage which the car was driven. On a Toyota of this era, the mileage displayed on the dash is stored in the instrument cluster, and there is no “tamper protection” to prevent installing a different used instrument cluster, which would then begin counting up from whatever mileage the car it came from had.

If someone did swap the instrument cluster with a used one from a junkyard, this would most likely have been done because the instrument cluster malfunctioned, and a junkyard replacement is the most cost-effective solution. On this type of car, a junkyard shopper would have no idea what the mileage is on a used instrument cluster until they have bought it and installed it, so it is highly unlikely that this was done to defraud a future owner of your car.

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Easy - You replace it…

odometer toyota camry | eBay