How To Reset An Odometer- Can You Reset Miles On A Car?

If you have a used car or a car that is starting to collect some miles, you may be interested to know more about the Odometer. Like any component on a vehicle, the odometer can wear out or become subject to malfunction.

Understanding how to fix the problem, what you can and can’t do, and being able to identify an odometer on a vehicle that has been tampered with are all common items that people look over on used cars.

In this article, we are going to go through more on what an odometer is, how it works when you can reset it, how to tell if it’s already been reset, and more.

You can keep some of these top tips in mind as you are looking at new vehicles for purchase or considering the option of working on your own vehicle.

What Is The Odometer?

The odometer is essentially a gauge that records the number of miles a car has been driven. It is usually located on or near the speedometer and is often a digital read-out.

An odometer is a device that indicates the distance traveled since the last calibration. An odometer may be analog or digital. Mechanical odometers generally include many cogs. Each gear on a mechanical odometer denotes a numerical digit.

How Does The Odometer Work?

The cogs on the odometer spin based on the motion of the wheels, which is driven by a drive mechanism and cable. Most odometers take their reading computed by a magnetic sensor that is placed close to the gearbox on a toothed wheel.

A window casing only displays the present mileage of the car and not the technical components of the odometer.

Digital odometers differ from mechanical odometers in that they are tracked using a digital readout with a  link to the sensor. The current mileage will be displayed digitally.

Trip Meter Vs Odometer Reading

The trip Meter is different from the odometer in that it records only the distance traveled since the last reset. When you reset the trip odometer, it clears whatever number was previously stored.

The odometer, on the other hand, keeps track of all the miles a car has been driven no matter how many times it’s been reset.

How To Reset An Odometer

You can reset the trip odometer by pressing and holding the button until it beeps or until the numbers on the trip setting 0 out. This is useful for tracking how many miles you’ve traveled on a specific trip, such as a road trip.

When Can You Reset An Odometer?

If you have a mechanical odometer, you can reset it by replacing the entire instrument cluster. The process is not as common with digital odometers because they are less likely to fail. If your car has a digital odometer and it stops working, you may be able to take it to a technician who can reprogram the device.

How To Reprogram A Digital Odometer?

Fixing a digital odometer is often as simple as unplugging the battery for a few minutes and then plugging it back in. Doing this will reset the car’s computer and should clear any errors that were previously displayed on the odometer.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to take the car to a technician who can reprogram the device. Most of the time, the reprogramming process will require specialized equipment for each manufacturer and this will only be available at a mechanic that is licensed to work on your make and model of vehicle with the required tools.

How To Tell If A Vehicle Has A Reset Or Manipulated Odometer?

If the numbers on the odometer are not lining up correctly, this is often an indication that the odometer has been tampered with. Another giveaway is when the numbers on the odometer are changing more quickly than normal.

If the device has been rolled back, sometimes it can affect the sensor meaning that the odometer will move faster than it traditionally would. If you are ever unsure about whether or not an odometer has been tampered with, it’s best to consult a professional.

What Are Some Of The Consequences Of Tampering With Odometers?

There are both civil and criminal penalties associated with tampering with odometers. Civil penalties may include restitution for the mileage that has been cheated and additional fines.

Criminal penalties may include jail time and/or a fine if you have been regularly selling vehicles with tampered odometers. In the most severe consequences, you may be charged with fraud for operating a business that regularly reset odometers.

How Do I Get Permission To Change My Odometer?

There is no specific permission you need to reset your odometer. However, if you are selling a vehicle with a tampered odometer, you may be breaking the law.

It’s always best to consult a professional if you have any questions about tampering with an odometer.

Is it legal?

Yes, it is legal to change your odometer as long as it is malfunctioning. If you are selling a vehicle with a tampered odometer, you may be breaking the law if you have reset the mileage intentionally to drive up the price.

If you have a service record of the odometer being replaced or repaired by a professional and you disclose this to the new buyer, you should have no problems legally selling a vehicle with a reset odometer.

Should I Buy A Car With A Reset Or Manipulated Odometer?

Buying a car with a reset odometer or with an odometer that does not carry a reading can make it difficult to care for your vehicle. It can make it more difficult to register and get insurance for a vehicle and it may present you with difficulty servicing your vehicle later on.  If you are looking to buy a car, it is best to avoid purchasing one with a tampered odometer.

If you need advice on fixing an odometer or would like assistance in improving your vehicle, contact us today. We can repair or replace odometers on any make or model vehicle as well as perform inspections to see if your odometer could have been tampered with.

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.