If you have ever bought or sold a car in your lifetime, chances are that you have filled out an odometer disclosure statement before. These statements are necessary in order to transfer ownership of a vehicle.
An odometer disclosure statement is a signed document containing accurate mileage of a vehicle based on the odometer’s reading. In order to take possession of a new vehicle, the odometer disclosure statement must be filled out, though there are a few exceptions.
In the rest of this article, I will go over when an odometer disclosure statement is always required, where you can acquire one, how to fill this statement out easily, and some frequently asked questions. So if you would like to learn a little more about odometer disclosure statements, let’s get started.
So first, it’s essential to understand when a disclosure statement is required and why this document is so important when buying or selling a new car. So is an odometer disclosure statement actually required by law?
An odometer disclosure statement is required by law in all 50 states to transfer vehicle ownership. The only exceptions are concerning vehicles weighing over 16,000 lbs (7 MT) and those over ten years of age.
Each state may have slightly different forms and requirements on its odometer disclosure statements. So it’s vital that you fill out the correct form for your state when preparing to purchase or sell a new vehicle.
The reason odometer disclosures are required by law is that these disclosures help prevent odometer fraud. However, there are a few ways this kind of fraud can be committed, and these statements allow for better tracking of a vehicle’s odometer mileage.
Here are the three main types of odometer fraud that you might run into:
- 1st-degree odometer fraud. A device is installed into the vehicle to read a different mileage than those actually driven.
- 2nd-degree odometer fraud. The odometer has been reset or messed with in some way to reflect incorrect mileage.
- 3rd-degree odometer fraud. A vehicle under ten years of age with a disconnected or malfunctioning odometer that is still regularly driven.
Now some of these types of odometer fraud are more rare, but by completing an odometer disclosure statement each time the vehicle is sold, a better record of the vehicle’s mileage can be kept, thus alerting you and the authorities to possible cases of fraud.
Plus, it’s essential to know how much wear and tear has been put on a vehicle before purchasing it. For example, how many miles are on a car can significantly reduce how much it’s worth and how long it will last without breaking down.
Now that you understand the importance of obtaining and signing an odometer disclosure statement for every vehicle, it’s time to discuss where you can acquire this document.
You can get an odometer disclosure statement online by googling your state’s name and odometer disclosure. In some states, you can also use a federal disclosure statement, but you should always double-check your state’s rules on odometer disclosures.
You can also easily find your state’s odometer disclosure statement at eForms. This site has a beautiful list of all the state’s odometer disclosure statements and allows you to fill out those forms electronically. However, this site does require that you sign up for their service.
If signing up for eForms isn’t something you wish to do, you can simply google the term odometer disclosure statement along with your state’s name and print off the document. This method is free and easy so long as you have access to a printer.
eForms also has a great short video explaining the odometer disclosure statement if you want to understand these forms better.
How to Fill Out an Odometer Disclosure Statement
Now it’s time to move on to how to fill out your disclosure statement. Again, this document is relatively straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to fill out, and as I previously stated, the form can be found online for your specific state.
There is a general federal odometer disclosure statement that can be used in some cases, though you will want to double-check your state’s rules as each state also provides its own disclosure.
The information you will need to provide for this form generally includes:
- The transferor’s name. This is where the seller’s full name should be clearly printed.
- The transferors’ street address, city, state, and zip code. The seller should fill out this information for themselves.
- The year, make, and model of the vehicle. Again, the party selling the vehicle should provide these details.
- The vehicle/hull identification number (VIN/HIN) and body type. You can generally find this information on the inside of the vehicle’s door or on a sticker on the inside of the car’s windshield.
- An accurate odometer reading from the vehicle. Whoever is selling the car will also have to verify that the number written down reflects the vehicle’s actual mileage. There is a section where the seller can check a box stating that there is a discrepancy with the odometer.
- A signature along with the date from the transferor. This signature indicates that the seller has provided accurate information to the best of their knowledge.
- Transferee’s name. This would be the full name of the buyer.
- The transferee’s address, city, state, and zip code. This section should be filled neatly by the buyer.
- The transferee’s signature and the date. This signature signifies that the buyer has looked over the document and finds everything accurate.
Now each document may be slightly different, but this is the basic information that will be required on any state odometer disclosure statement. Again, as I discussed earlier, there are some websites where you can fill these documents out electronically if that better suits your needs.
How to Provide the Most Accurate Odometer Reading
When it comes to filling out any legal forms, it’s essential to always provide the most accurate information possible. Otherwise, you may have to pay a hefty fine or even face some jail time.
So let’s talk a little about how to acquire an accurate odometer reading for your odometer disclosure statement:
- Check your odometer for an accurate reading and write down the exact number on the odometer disclosure statement.
- If your odometer has ever been replaced, is broken, or you suspect it may not be accurate, you must report that on the disclosure statement.
It’s okay if your odometer is broken and you don’t know what the vehicle’s actual mileage is. What matters is that you report that to the potential buyer and make sure to include that information in the odometer disclosure.
If you don’t report issues with the odometer on your vehicle’s disclosure statement, this will be considered fraud, and you may find yourself facing charges.
If you have just purchased a new vehicle and wish to keep an extremely accurate log of your travels, I would consider purchasing a Vehicle Mileage Log. This log will help you track the mileage of your trip so that you will have an easier time recognizing any mileage discrepancies in the future.
Next, I am going to answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about odometer disclosure statements.
An odometer’s purpose is to provide the vehicle owner with an accurate account of how many miles the vehicle has traveled. By knowing how many miles have been put on a vehicle, you can better assess how long the car will last and how much maintenance will be needed.
The federal penalty for providing a fraudulent odometer disclosure statement is a fine of at least $1,500 or more since the accused may be liable for any damages that have occurred due to the falsified information as well as attorney fees.
The best way to ensure that the odometer mileage is accurate on your disclosure statement is to purchase a vehicle history report through a trusted site like Carfax, Bumper, or Autocheck.
These sites will provide you with detailed information about your vehicle so that you can better spot any mileage discrepancies.
To Sum Up
The simplest way to describe an odometer disclosure statement is a document containing the accurate mileage of the vehicle. This document is needed to transfer a vehicle’s title to a new owner, and any falsified information on this disclosure can lead to severe fines or even jail time.
- Always provide accurate information.
- Let the buyer know if there’s an issue with the odometer.
- Check your state for the correct odometer disclosure statement.
When purchasing a new vehicle, it’s important that you always have this form in order to make sure you are being provided with accurate miles.
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