Signs of Odometer Roll Over


So I’m looking at a 1994 Ford Ranger with supposedly 65k miles. However the odometer is only 5 digits, so I’m weary of the claim. Even though it appears to be in very good shape.

The carfax was not helpful and didn’t show any discrepancy. There are large gaps between entries; bought new 1994 and had only 25k by 2009 (<2000 miles/year). Seller says truck sat for long periods and previous owner barely drove it (which isn’t good either, but the aside the point). All recent registration has “Exempt from odometer reporting”, which is a huge red flag for me…

Aside general condition and a compression test… Are there anythings to note while looking at the truck that may indicate the odometer has already rolled over once or twice?


The only way I could see sorting this out would be if your state has a yearly safety or emissions inspection program in which the mileage is logged in or if the state DMV has a number of title changes shown over the years with something appearing to be out of whack.

There are minor things which may, or may not, be apparent and which could possibly mean higher miles. That would be excessive wear on the foot pedals, key fob, wear on the steering wheel, shift handle, and so on.

Some people have been known to remove a high miles instrument cluster and slap in a 35 dollar, low miles cluster off of eBay or from some boneyard. I’m not saying that’s the case here; only that it’s an unfortunate fact of life.

When it comes to money (and a low miles vehicle is worth substantially more than a much higher miles one) people can and will resort to any trick in the book.


The car is exempt from odometer disclosure because it’s so old that mileage isn’t really meaningful. I wouldn’t consider it a red flag.

I also think Carfax is irrelevant for a car of this age.

I would pay to have the car inspected. If it’s well-maintained and in good condition what does it matter if the mileage is 65K or 165K? It’s still a 20+ year old truck.


The difference might be in the amount being asked for the truck. A 100k miles less can easily mean a grand difference in the asking price; even on an older truck.

I’d hate to pay a premium price for low miles if the reality is the mileage is double, triple, or even more than what is claimed.
Almost every seller has a story; some of them true and some not so true.


Look at wear on the brake and clutch pedals. If the rubber is too worn for the indicated mileage, there’s a possibility that the odometer rolled over.
Also the wear on floor mats, upholstery, etc. will betray the true mileage of a vehicle.


Why would anyone want a 21 yr old low range compact truck? 4 cyl, manual trans, 2wd? If condition is #1 issue, why does the miles matter? Unless it’s from Arizona or Cali, I can’t believe it’s as nice as you say.


For me, there is a cross over point where the age outweighs any low mileage benefit. In fact, it can actually become a negative for me. Very low mileage = lots of sitting = rotting away from non-use. A 14 year old pick up fits the bill for same price regardless of mileage. All that matters is what kind of shape the body/frame is in…my offer will be rock bottom retail…


Our Motor Vehicle Bureau now requires the odometer readings when you renew the plates annually. That allows tracking of vehicles, and if the next owner registers with a LOWER reading the vehicle is immediately suspect.


On a truck THAT age ?
It almost does not matter at all anymore.
A mechanic’s inspection is your most valuable tool here.

– Case in point . .my own 1979 Chevy pickup . .truly has merely 71,000 miles on a similar odo with no 100k digits. SINCE I do so much DIY on it, the maintainence records are non existant. Impossible to prove out the odometer at this point.

SO …
Regardless of mileage . .
— AGE —
is going to be the biggest factor in this truck being servicable.


I agree with everyone else here. At that age the mileage displayed on the odometer is meaningless.

As to Carfax… their data has been shown to be incorrect far more often that correct. I cannot think of one instance I’m familiar with where Carfax was accurate. I know of many where it wasn’t even close. I know of one where the VIN that Carfax had wasn’t even the same model car.


Any database can have errors in it.

In MD, the seller is required to fill out a form and hand write in the mileage. This form is a snap set, and one of the copies is provided to the buyer. This procedure is done for trade-ins or direct sales to a broker/dealer. Your state may have something similar. If so, your DMV may have the data. Contact them with your VIN and they might be able to help you.


The unknown factor in all of this is the asking price of the truck. If someone is asking an inflated X amount of dollars based on the claimed low mileage then the mileage claimed makes a lot of difference.

If the asking price is fair for a high miles truck of that age then I agree; it’s a non-issue.


Any database can have errors, but Carfax is the only one I know that has absolutely zero control over its inputs and claims to provide accurate data. Carfax inputs can come from anywhere and everywhere, its resultant reports have been shown to be far, far too inaccurate for them to be believed. The old saying holds, Garbage in = garbage out, and IMHO Carfax’s databanks are repositories of garbage. “Garbage” in this case includes incomplete data as well as erroneous data, since Carfax presents itself as producing an accurate profile of the vehicle history. You cannot create an accurate profile of a car’s history if all you have is inaccurate and/or incomplete data.


If I remember correctly, in my state vehicles over 10 years old are exempt from recording mileage when transferring the title. Another possibility is the speedometer cable that had been broken for 15 years was repaired prior to listing the truck for sale.


ok4450, what I was saying is it doesn’t make any difference because I will not consider paying a premium based on mileage for a truck that old, period. I don’t care what the person is asking or their reasoning for it. To me it is worth X because it is 24 years old. Still want Y for it? Good luck.

We’re not talking about a low miles original vintage vette here :wink: