The South Australian Government has introduced harsher penalties for car dealers found to have wound back the kilometres on car odometers, with large fines and even imprisonment for repeat offenders.
Car dealers in South Australia found to have wound back odometers will now face fines of up to $30,000, along with the possibility of jail for up to two years.
The State Government has tripled the fine for shonky car dealers found to have been engaging in the dishonest practice, while unlicenced dealers – those found to have sold more than four vehicles within a 12-month period – can also face imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 for a third or subsequent offence.
For first or second offences, fines have increased from $100,000 to $150,000 – with body corporates facing fines of up to $500,000.
The South Australian Government says it has seen an increase in the dodgy practice of lowering a car’s kilometre reading from both licenced and unlicenced dealers – many of which are selling from their home and advertising on Facebook Marketplace.
Six individuals were convicted of tampering with odometers in the previous financial year – four of which were found to be unlicenced dealers – with more than $35,000 in fines and compensation being handed out by the courts.
“While most dealers do the right thing, there are unscrupulous operators out there who’ll try to take advantage of people by engaging in dodgy practices,” SA Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, Andrea Michaels MP, said in a written statement.
“It’s disgusting behaviour, which is why we are continuing to target this area to better protect people with harsher penalties,” she said.
“When buying privately, exercise a great degree of caution – get the car inspected, check the odometer reading to see if the wear and tear on the car is consistent with the car’s supposed usage and visit the personal properties securities register to check the car hasn’t been stolen, flood damaged or written off.”
In June 2023, the NSW Government introduced free online checks for buyers to check the odometer reading of a used car, after officials reported a four-fold increase in the fraudulent activity over two years.