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DOT updates rules for disclosing mileage when cars are sold

DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Transportation has updated the rules for odometer disclosure statements when you sell a car or truck to align with federal changes that started with the new year.

DOT spokesman Daniel Hey says the rule sets out who has to provide the statement. “The best rule of thumb is that any vehicle that is 2011 or newer requires that odometer mileage to be disclosed when it is sold or transferred,” Hey says.

He says the change is recognizing that vehicles are being kept longer. “The previous rule said you had to do it for ten years or less. And what the 2011 is going to do — that year is going to hold all the way up until 2031 and then when we get to 2031, the federal government is going to change it to 20 years or newer,” he says.

The change applies to all transfers of vehicles, including sale by a dealer, private sale, or vehicles received through gift or inheritance. Hey says the information is very important. “Because that’s going to impact the price that you should be paying for the vehicle. It’s going to impact the condition that you think the vehicle is in,” according to Hey. “It could very well impact things like whether the vehicle is still eligible for certain warranties. There’s a lot of reasons why you’d want an accurate odometer check on that vehicle.”

Odometers went from a mechanical system to digital around 20 years ago. Hey says they still get cases of odometer fraud with the use of digital systems. “Frankly no matter how an odometer is kept on the vehicle — whether it’s a manual dial. whether it’s digital — we are always going to have criminals finding ways to break into that and alter it,” Hey says.

He says having the odometer statements when a vehicle is sold gives a paper trail that makes it easier to go back and see if there is a discrepancy in the amount of mileage. Hey says the odometer disclosure can be done a couple of ways.  One is the current Iowa title has the disclosure in the area where the vehicle is assigned to someone else. If the vehicle is from another state and the title doesn’t have that area — you can use a separate form from the DOT.

Any transfer where the odometer statement was previously not required will continue to be exempt under the rule change. The state Transportation Commission recently approved the rule change.

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