Ontario man tricked into buying truck with odometer rolled back 136,000 kilometres

An Ontario man who needed a pickup truck to carry his tools for his new construction business was shocked when he found out he bought one that had a lot more kilometres than he thought. 

“Clearly the odometer had been rolled back and it needed a lot of work,” said Whitby, Ont. man Dennis Esteves.

Esteves searched on Facebook Marketplace and saw an ad for 2010 Ford F-150 selling privately for $8,800, which had mileage listed as 184,000 kilometres. 

He went to see the truck, felt it was in good shape for the price and bought it uncertified. 

But when he took the truck to his mechanic after some diagnostic tests were done, he was told the truck didn’t have 184,000 kilometers. It actually had 320,000 kilometres. 

Then Esteves found out the seller was not the registered owner of the truck and had used a false name. The truck needed $5,000 worth of repairs. 

“I immediately reached out to the seller and he said, ‘Too bad so sad. You bought it as is,'” said Esteves.

Esteves called the police but was told “it’s buyer beware and that I should have done my homework.”

“But how do you do your homework on a rolled back odometer?” he said.

If Esteves had purchased the truck from an Ontario registered car dealer, he would have been eligible to receive money from the Ontario Motor Vehicle Council’s (OMVIC) compensation fund. 

Because he bought the car privately, he is not eligible for compensation and would have to take the seller to small claims court, but he doesn’t have the seller’s real name.

OMVIC CEO John Carmichael said it was a “classic case of curbsiding,” when sellers act as illegal dealers who use tools to change odometer readings.

“There is technology that if someone wants to be nefarious they can spin an odometer back,” said Carmichael.

OMVIC says to avoid being the victim of a curbsider, watch out for a seller who has multiple vehicles for sale and is selling a vehicle not registered in their name.

Be cautious of someone who doesn’t provide the used vehicle information package (UVIP) or discourages you getting a Carfax history report which contains odometer readings or refuses to let you have the vehicle inspected by your own mechanic.

OMVIC says what happened to Esteves is unfortunate and it agreed to try and find the seller who sold him the truck with the rolled back odometer.

“It’s criminal. We have investigators who will support this and go after this guy (the seller),” said Carmichael.

Esteves said buying the truck with the rolled back odometer and having to pay thousands in repairs he wasn’t expecting was a lesson he will never forget.

“When you buy a car from a dealer you do pay more, but having that piece of mind that if something goes wrong, you can go back and have some kind of recourse, but if you are buying it privately you really don’t,” said Esteves.

Vehicles sold by curbsiders are also sometimes rebuilt wrecks that have been written off by insurance companies. 

It’s not to say you should never buy a vehicle privately, but if you do you have to be careful, make sure you have the proper documentation and know exactly who you’re dealing with.