What Happens If I Buy a Car with Mileage Discrepancy?

When you’re in the market for a used car, it’s essential to do your due diligence and ensure you’re making a wise investment. One issue that can arise, whether you’re in the UK or the US, is encountering a car with mileage discrepancy. But what does this mean, and what should you do if you find yourself in this situation? Let’s explore the implications and steps you should take on both sides of the Atlantic.

Understanding Mileage Discrepancy

Mileage discrepancy occurs when there is a significant difference between the mileage recorded on a car’s odometer and the actual distance the vehicle has traveled. This can be due to various reasons, including odometer tampering, mechanical failures, or incorrect reporting. In either case, it can have serious consequences for both the buyer and the seller.

How to Resolve Mileage Discrepancy

What Happens If I Buy a Car with Mileage Discrepancy In the UK:

1. Legal Implications: In the UK, it is illegal to sell a vehicle with a knowingly incorrect mileage reading. Doing so constitutes a criminal offense under the Fraud Act 2006. Sellers can face fines and even imprisonment if found guilty of mileage fraud.

2. Impact on Value: If you unknowingly purchase a car with a mileage discrepancy, it can significantly affect the vehicle’s value. You may have paid more than the car is worth based on the false mileage.

3. Recourse: In the UK, you have legal recourse if you discover a mileage discrepancy after purchase. You can demand a refund or take legal action against the seller.

What Happens If I Buy a Car with Mileage Discrepancy In the US:

1. Disclosure Laws: While the US does not have specific federal laws against mileage fraud, individual states may have disclosure laws. Sellers are generally required to disclose known issues, including mileage discrepancies.

2. Impact on Value: Similar to the UK, buying a car with mileage discrepancy in the US can lead to overpaying for the vehicle. It can also affect your ability to resell the car at its true market value.

3. Recourse: If you discover a mileage discrepancy after purchase, consult your state’s consumer protection agency. You may be able to pursue legal action against the seller if they knowingly misrepresented the mileage.

Pinned Map of USA

Preventing Mileage Fraud

Regardless of where you are, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent falling victim to mileage fraud:

1. Vehicle History Report: Obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report using services like Carfax or AutoCheck. These reports often include mileage information and can help you spot any irregularities.

2. Inspect the Odometer: Physically inspect the odometer for signs of tampering, such as crooked numbers or evidence of adhesive residue.


3. Verify Maintenance Records: Review the vehicle’s maintenance records, as they can provide insight into the car’s true mileage.

4. Have a Mechanic Inspect the Car: Before finalizing the purchase, have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle. They can identify any discrepancies or mechanical issues that may not be apparent.


Whether you’re buying a used car in the UK or the US, discovering a mileage discrepancy can be disheartening. It’s crucial to know your rights, take preventive measures, and be prepared to take action if you encounter this issue. By being vigilant and informed, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to mileage fraud and ensure you make a smart investment in your next vehicle.