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Hi guys !
One of those stories…nearly 3 years ago mu pals mum (94 yrs old) decided to stop driving & gave me her car !..when I got it it had 86,000 miles on it…today it has 86,000 miles on it…this means that (a) I haven’t been anywhere for the last 3 yrs. … Or …(b) odo ain’t working…problem is…it’s time for a smog…do I lie to the smog man & tell him I ain’t been using it ? … Btw …ALL other instruments are working fine…how do I stand with the dreaded DMV ? …

Well, what answer do you want to hear?

If you say nothing, all may be well.

If you disclose that the odometer isn’t working, DMV may issue some statement documenting that the vehicle’s actual mileage is unknown.
Do you want that?

If you want to sell the car, I highly advise you to tell any prospective buyers that the odometer isn’t working. Not doing so would be considered unethical by some people.

Does this car have a mechanical odometer or a digital odometer?

Don’t lie, just tell him it’s broken. I had an old car that I replaced the speedo in, and the odo was less than the original. At sale, I let them know, and the title was marked for inaccurate mileage.

@BustedKnuckles, if you get that odometer fixed, is there any way to legally wash the title so that it is no longer marked “inaccurate mileage”

Actually, the q. Was … Is a broken odo legal ?

@Rikrik I don’t know what state you live in, but here’s Califorrnia’s take on the matter.

@db4690: According to that link, it involves “intent to defraud.” So, not necessarily illegal to operate with a bad odometer, just if you drive that way so that you can later defraud someone…

@OP: My advice would be just be to drop the car off for testing and don’t mention the odometer. Don’t lie, but don’t volunteer info. If the tech notices the problem and asks how many miles you’ve driven it, you can (honestly) answer, “darned if I know!”

Don’t know if this will be useful where you live, but here’s some “field research.”

From 1997 to 2010, my 86 Nissan pickup had exactly this on the odometer:

That truck passed California smog every time it was tested (alternate years), though it was marginal the last time. When I sold the car TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA’s vehicle retirement program, the odometer still read 309030.

I had elected to not pay the exorbitant dealer price for the nylon odo gear, but in retrospect, I wish I had. I would have enjoyed knowing if that loyal truck actually made it to 400k…(or if the head gasket was only good for 399,999k).

So the bottom line seems to be:

If you keep the car for yourself, don’t say anything to the DMV

If you sell the car and DON’T want to be a jerk, disclose that the odometer hasn’t been working.

@db4690, once the title is marked as mileage inaccurate, it can not really ever show the true mileage of the car again. Even if you advance the odo to the mileage you had before the break, the odo will now have been tampered with. So, no, you cannot sanitize the title after that. Down here in the South, our regs are not as tough as Cali.

@Rikrik, obviously, The legality pf a working odo depends on your state regs. I’d ask you’re local tag office about that.

I’m virtually certain that odo reading is recorded by CA smog techs. That number would be transmitted to DMV with all other info, which is done electronically in real time, and one would think that the system would immediately recognize that the odo number was the same two years prior. If that were an issue, one might expect that it would bounce back at the smog technician as a problem before he could begin the test. In my case, I was never aware that it did. So I’m not sure it matters what you say to DMV. Or maybe I just got lucky, like I was on buying that Nissan to begin with.

@BustedKnuckles thankfully, I’ve never been in this situation.