Figures May Lie: How to Expose a Twisted Mileage of a Used Car

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No secret that even a relatively new, 2-3-year-old car can have thousands and thousands of miles behind its back. These are vehicles used by couriers, taxis, or sales representatives. Unfortunately, unfair sellers often try to hide the real mileage and change odometer readings to get rid of the car faster. This hands-on guide will help reveal the truth when buying a used car.

Body Will Tell the Truth

The first thing that indicates a high mileage of the car is the condition of its front end. Damaged paint on the hood, rock marks, and faded spots are obvious signs that the vehicle has driven a lot. Scratches and abrasions to headlights are other elements that reflects the car’s condition.

Body state shows not only whether a particular mileage is fair but also allows making a diagnosis – what could be wrong with the car.

Indianapolis used car experts from the Indy Auto Man dealer center advise paying attention to the hood (presence of damage, fading), defects in the headlights, the windshield, and possible scratches and dents in the racks during an external inspection of the car. Find more tips in their car buying guide on

Inside View

The car’s interior discloses even more information about the mileage. A worn steering wheel or gear knob cover will be the first sign that the vehicle has been used frequently.

The seats and the upholstery may reveal other signs of wear. Defects are easier to spot on leather or velour seats. When examining the driver seat, pay attention to whether it is very drowned and worn out, or if the steering wheel has significant scratches.

High mileage can also be perceptible by the condition of the armrest on the door – this is the place where drivers often put their elbows. Discoloration or wear of the plastic becomes noticeable no sooner than after 30-40 thousand miles of the run.

Sellers typically forget to clean the plastic around the parking brake button or door handles, and the rubber or paint around frequently used selectors peels off or even falls off. The buttons themselves can also be a good clue.

It is also a good idea to look at the turn signal levers and pedals. Evidence of more mileage can be a couple of seemingly innocent spots that are more worn and damaged. Few remember them, yet they can convey a clear message to the buyer.

Practical elements of the car, such as brake discs, various gaskets, or even the engine, are direct indicators of the car condition and mileage as well. Therefore, it is better to consult an experienced mechanic before buying or purchasing only from a reliable used car dealer who performs a pre-sale inspection of the chassis and other elements. It is also worth checking the transmission during a test drive.

Dates on the Parts

Some plastic parts (ashtrays, headlight surrounds, etc.) and windows are engraved with the year and month of manufacture. This won’t help to define the mileage but can reveal the dark past of the vehicle. If somewhere the dates of manufacture differ, for instance, on the left headlights or the turn signals, the owner likely replaced the part after a collision.

How Not to Get Trapped

When we know what to look for, it is easier to determine if something is wrong with the car. Buying a used car, the future owner should look for any signs of wear, scuffs, blemishes, mismatched interior colors, or excessive gaps between body parts.

Be aware that the seller may renew some parts or change the upholstery. This makes it difficult to prove that odometer readings were twisted. If the used car is too sparkling (especially under the hood), this is an alarm signal too.

But even those with a trained eye can make mistakes. The only guarantee of a fair deal is a seller who values his reputation, like the Indy Auto Man used car dealership in Indianapolis. Moreover, they offer a free CARFAX report, one of the easiest and most reliable ways to find out the actual mileage of a car.