Parliament adopted a resolution calling for tougher rules to crack down on odometer tampering of used vehicles on 31 May. This fraud is costing consumers and business billions every year.
Odometer tampering has seen the mileage rolled back on up to 50% of second-hand cars traded in the EU, with the price of vehicles fraudulently increasing by €2,000 - €5,000 on average.
The issue requires cooperation from legislators across Europe as the problem is greatly increased in cross-border car sales. While 5-12% of national sales involve vehicles with altered mileage readings, the figure rises to 30-50% for sales of imported used cars. In some European countries such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Poland, the likelihood of buying an imported car with false mileage reaches 80%.
Impact across Europe
This fraud costs an estimated €5.6- €9.6 billion a year to consumers, second-hand car dealers, leasing companies, insurers and manufacturers.
Consumers not only pay too much for their vehicles, but are often faced with unexpected maintenance and repair expenses for overused cars. There are additional harmful environmental consequences as these cars are often more polluting and road safety is compromised by potentially hazardous vehicles.
A European Commission survey reveals that the practice also severely dents consumer confidence, with the EU's used car market being perceived as one of the least trustworthy sectors.
Although odometer manipulation is currently prohibited in 25 EU countries, sanctions can vary widely. Offenders can face up to two years in prison in France, compared with a €226 fine in Slovakia.
Parliament wants stricter measures to prevent mileage fraud and improve the consistency of penalties across the EU. Its recommendations include:
- The creation of national databases and mandatory exchange of mileage readings across the EU
- Recognition of odometer tampering as a criminal offense across all EU countries
- Technical Inspections to include regular registration of vehicle mileage readings
- Integration of tamper-proof technological solutions by car manufacturers, with blockchain being considered as a possible measure
The resolution will be forwarded to the European Commission for consideration.