How to Reset the Miles on a Car (4 Best Ways)

The odometer takes note of the distance a vehicle has traveled, and it is usually displayed digitally.

It may cross one’s mind to ask if it is possible to adjust the miles covered by a vehicle and also how to reset the miles on A car. One might also ask about the legality of resetting an odometer.

However, there is no need to be confused about these questions as this article provides answers to them.

Notwithstanding, always remember that manipulating the distance covered by a vehicle is a criminal act.

Digital odometers have become more popular in recent years over analog odometers in an effort to reduce the risk of odometer manipulation and odometer fraud.

New car models usually have anti-tampering seals fixed around the odometer on the instrument cluster; this creates difficulty in getting to the odometer and manipulating the miles on a vehicle.

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How to Reset the Miles on a Car

How to Reset the Miles on a Car

The four methods that can be used to reset the miles on a car are;

  1. Changing the vehicle’s instrument cluster
  2. Manipulating the knob
  3. Reorganize the odometer
  4. Changing or reprogramming the vehicle’s ECU.

1. Changing the Vehicle’s Instrument Cluster

Some Japanese vehicles have vehicle models made in the past and have mileage data stored in their instrument cluster.

Hence, replacing instrument clusters of such cars with another one will reset the mileage on the car to zero.

In other instances, the instrument cluster may require a change with another from a similar or the same car model, and it may necessarily not be a new one.

The downside is that the odometer will show the mileage it had on the previous vehicle. However, this may not be totally bad and could be an advantage if the mileage is lower than the one removed.

Vehicle models in the past and many Japanese models are built with mechanical odometers. Therefore, manipulating the distance is less difficult compared to recent models.

2. Manipulating the Knob

The easiest method to reset the miles on a car is by manipulating the knob. There’s usually a knob around the instrument cluster.

The knob has a lot of functions, including revealing the percentage of fuel remaining and temperature assessments. So if a vehicle owner wants to learn to reset or manipulate the miles in a car, this knob does the task.

To use the knob when resetting the miles on a car, press the knob for a couple of seconds without removing your hands from it; the odometer goes back to zero as soon as the fuel economy shows.

3. Reassembling Your Odometer

Suppose you have a huge interest in cars, with good knowledge about mechanical odometers, some popular mechanical equipment like a screwdriver and pliers can be used to reassemble the odometer to reset the miles on a car.

After uncoupling, unseal the clock, then change the mileage readings. Although, care should be taken as several car manufacturers have tamper-proof coverings protecting the readings.

Changing the instrument cluster has been discussed in the first procedure; this method can be used to reassemble the odometer from another model of the vehicle and change it.

4. Replace or Reprogram Your Car ECU

The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) controls the instrument cluster in more recent vehicles. Hence, the ECU stores the distance records.

To reset the miles on an odometer controlled electronically, the car’s ECU needs to be changed.

Good computer knowledge is needed to reprogram the odometer to reset the mileage. If you do not have this knowledge, employ a car repair specialist to help with the reprogramming.

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How Can You Tell if an Odometer Has Been Reset?

How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Resetting the miles on a car is a sneaky technique illegal car dealers have used for years. On old model mechanical analog odometers, rolling back the miles was a less complicated process.

Using a control instrument to rewind its program or simply driving a vehicle backwards was all that was needed to roll back a vehicle’s mileage in thousands.

With the production of digital odometers and complex car computers, resetting a vehicle’s mileage is now a more complicated process (as special software is required), although it is still possible.

About 3% of every second-hand vehicle traded in America is presumed to have gone through mileage adjustment. A study by the NHTSA shows that 452,000 vehicles with wrong odometer readings are sold yearly.

Considering these statistics, learning the characteristic of odometer fraud can be helpful. It is necessary to pay more attention to the following when buying a used car:

1. Worn Tires

One can tell how far a car has traveled by looking at its tires. Suspicions can be raised if the odometer reading is low, with the tires looking overused and dilapidated.

Also, look at the production date on the side of the tires. If the tires were manufactured long ago, but the odometer reading is low, then there is a reason to assume foul play.

For instance, tires should not be old and worn if the vehicle has only traveled seven miles.

2. Scratches on the Instrument Cluster

If a car has an instrument cluster as part of its odometer rather than the computer, then scratches and dents are most likely to be found on the screws and the case.

To reset the miles in a car’s odometer, criminals usually do so by dismounting the plastic cover, which is not easy to carry out without creating any visible damage.

How Do I Reset My Odometer After Engine Swap?

The odometer is structured to indicate the whole vehicle’s mileage. However, do not forget that several parts of the vehicle wear off, especially the chassis.

After installing a different engine, the engine’s paperwork gotten from after the change of engine has every information relating to its mileage.

Therefore, this paperwork should be kept, and vehicle ownership documents should be taken to the appropriate authorities to get stamped.

Can a Digital Odometer Be Reset?

Yes, a digital odometer can be reset. Adjusting a digital odometer has more effect and is more difficult to spot.

Changing the record itself is possible, or reprogramming or replacing the useful memory chip.

A vehicle’s powertrain control module can store mileage data, so an automotive specialist with adequate experience knows where to look for accurate information on the system.

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Is It Illegal to Reset the Odometer?

How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Adjusting car mileage, also referred to as odometer fraud, is an illegal offense recognized by both federal and state legislation.

It may be necessary to adjust the odometer if damage has been done to it, making it give inaccurate mileage records.

However, problems relating to faulty odometers are uncommon; most times, vehicle owners are not certain if the miles of their vehicles can be adjusted due to the desire to make more profit from a future sale of such vehicles.

In fact, for any reason whatsoever, adjusting a vehicle’s odometer is a criminal act. Therefore, unless written consent from relevant authorities is given to that effect, resetting a vehicle’s odometer is not to be considered.

Due to odometer fraud, about four to ten billion dollars in consumer losses have been accrued.

Therefore, even though it is criminalized and punishable with imprisonment, it has little effect in stopping some car sellers from rolling back the miles for a profitable price.

The prison term for odometer fraud is usually a minimum of eighteen months and may not exceed a maximum of 3 years.

Regardless, criminals with a stronger sentence for odometer fraud can face a longer prison term, lasting around seven years.

Should I Buy a Car With a Reset Odometer?

Cars with odometer problems typically have a significantly lower price than cars without any problems. Exploiting the situation and making a profit may be appealing; however, you may ask, what are the dangers?

A person with the knowledge of adjusting miles in a vehicle got such knowledge on purpose.

Is it just for a good resale value? Or a required knowledge for unavoidable repair works such as a transmission rebuild or servicing an engine?

Buying a Car with a Reset Odometer will save cost; however, more money will be spent on repairs along the line. Also, the effect of such an act on the future sale of the car should be considered.

Make your choice: less expense now against uncertainties later on.

Does Replacing the Engine Reset Mileage?

No, replacing the engine does not reset mileage. The odometer records the distance traveled by the vehicle. Hence, the mileage in a car with a different engine shows the initial position before the new engine was installed.

The odometer should show the original records even though it is a new engine.

The car’s odometer indicates more than just the mileage of the vehicle. Of course, the engine is an essential component; however, there are components it won’t affect when it gets changed or replaced with a new one.

The suspension, steering components, and transmission are essential parts of a vehicle that do not depend on the engine.

Also, every component mentioned above, including others not mentioned, have service periods for when a repair is due. And if any of them wear out, a replacement is needed.

Meanwhile, suppose the odometer indicates a wrong value. In that case, a new owner may not know when maintenance is due to not carrying out such maintenance procedure or look out for dilapidations in those parts.

This will lead to a dangerous situation if the vehicle’s new owner fails to perform the necessary maintenance to ensure the car is safe on the road.

Is It Possible for Dealerships to Reset Miles on a Car?

Resetting an odometer in the USA is not permitted by law. Federal law makes this act illegal, and several state laws prohibit it.

However, if car dealers reset a vehicle’s odometer to show something different from what is recorded by the gauge initially, this is usually investigated.

Is It Possible to Use the Mileage Blocker to Adjust the Digital Odometer Reading?

How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Current odometer readings are not affected by mileage blockers. It is used for testing a vehicle’s performance, especially in a regulated environment.

Hence, adjusting the mileage is not needed for it to function properly. Rather, upon activation, this device ends mileage recordings.

This function has been exploited by some vehicle owners who use it when driving. Due to this, the odometer records a distance lesser than the actual distance the car travels.

However, it is advised that mileage blockers are not used for unconventional purposes like this.

A software capable of rewinding or resetting the mileage can also be called an odometer repair instrument.

Unfortunately, though, it comes with its flaws, especially on digital odometers. Because the software cannot send data to or retain data in other control units, the odometer is the only part affected by it.

Although a digital odometer can be rolled back, using diagnostic computers to look for differences and identify all variations is quite simple.

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Frequently Asked Questions – How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Is There a Way to Reset a Digital Odometer?

It is possible to reset digital odometers by taking out the vehicle’s circuit board to adjust the odometer readings or using a rollback tool that goes straight into the car’s electronic circuit.

Can You Roll Back an Electronic Odometer?

It is possible to reset digital odometers by taking out the vehicle’s circuit board to adjust the odometer readings or using a rollback tool that goes straight into the car’s electronic circuit.

When Can You Legally Reset an Odometer?

You cant legally reset an odometer. If we are to abide by the provisions of the Federal statute 49 U.S. Code § 32703, which state as follows: A person cannot “disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered an odometer of a car intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer.”

What Happens if You Get Caught Rolling Back Miles?

The penalty under federal laws for odometer fraud is a maximum fine of Ten thousand dollars and/or a prison term of 3 years.

Does Driving Backward Reverse Odometer?

This technique may be possible with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or a Matilda. However, driving a vehicle in reverse does not reduce mileage. Instead, reversing a car actually increases the odometer mileage, which is a counter effect to what is wanted. Furthermore, resetting a vehicle’s odometer is unlawful under American law.

Is There a Way to Take Miles off a Car?

Manipulating a vehicle’s mileage is not legal, and you can face serious charges if found guilty of a deliberate attempt to entice a potential customer into believing they are buying a car with fewer miles than its actual mileage.

Conclusion – How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Knowing how to reset the miles on a car will make it less difficult to notice mileage fraud.

Remember that every part of the vehicle dilapidates as more distance is covered. Aside from this, check the VIN to ensure you are not being deceived.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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