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Purchasing used cars can be challenging. Used car dealerships offer a variety of vehicle options in different conditions. Consumers must be careful not to commit to a vehicle before doing their homework on it. Buyers who purchase used cars before having them properly inspected occasionally have bad experiences. One Florida dealership owner’s recent arrest is proof that the used car business is just as challenging to navigate as ever.

Why mileage is important when buying a used car

An automobile odometer with 100000 miles shown.
An automobile odometer with 100,000 miles shown | Universal Education/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Mileage is one of the biggest factors when considering a used car for purchase. Why? Mileage has a lot to do with how much longer a vehicle could last. A vehicle with mileage under 100,000 miles usually still has at least a few years left before parts start going bad. A vehicle with high mileage above 100,000 miles is often past its prime.

Some more experienced car buyers that know how to maintain vehicles may be interested in vehicles with high mileage. Most buyers, however, tend to stay away from used vehicles with higher mileage. A car dealership owner was recently arrested for odometer tampering. Odometer tampering is when a person intentionally manipulates information displayed on the odometer to mislead potential buyers.

This is a huge offense because tampering with the odometer and then selling that vehicle is selling a vehicle under false pretenses. In this particular case, the dealership owner reduced the odometer mileage display from 180,000 miles driven to around 100,000 miles. This amount of mileage difference is the equivalent to at least four to five years of driving on average.

Used car inspections can reveal crucial details about a vehicle

A used car dealership.
Used car dealership | JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

A buyer purchased a 2010 Mazda CX9 for $9,148.80. Shortly after the purchase, the vehicle began to have many issues that alerted the buyer that something about their CX9 was seriously off. The 2010 Mazda CX9 is a reliable SUV and shouldn’t have serious mechanical issues until it has racked up some major mileage.

The Mazda CX9 owner had a hunch that something about the SUV was suspicious. They took it to CarMax to get a full inspection done and get to the bottom of what exactly was wrong with the vehicle. The folks at CarMax made the shocking discovery that the odometer had been tampered with.

The buyer confronted the dealership owner over the phone, and the owner admitted to tampering with the odometer. The dealership owner then attempted to purchase the vehicle back, and the buyer promptly contacted the authorities. The dealership owner is currently under arrest for intent to defraud and tampering with a motor vehicle’s odometer.

How to avoid being defrauded when buying used cars

Used cars on a sales lot.
Used Cars | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

There are several ways to avoid being defrauded when making a used car purchase. Checking a used vehicle’s title can reveal parts of a vehicle’s history that may influence your decision. Taking a used car for a test drive is also a way to make a more informed decision. Listening to a used vehicle’s transmission while test driving can tell you if the vehicle may need immediate maintenance.

Buying a used car can be a great experience when both the dealership and vehicle are well-researched. One surefire way to avoid being defrauded and have a good car-buying experience is to get a full inspection done. An inspection by a trusted professional mechanic can tell you everything you need to know about a used vehicle before purchasing it.