Skip to Content

How To Tell How Many Miles A Car Has Without The Odometer?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Determining the mileage of a car allows you to check its frequency of use. Doing this step is particularly useful when you’re buying a second-hand vehicle. But how can you check a car’s mileage if it doesn’t have a working odometer? We researched the solution to this predicament, and here’s what we found.

Some of the ways to track and/or identify a car’s mileage are:

  • Use a mileage scanner
  • Have the key fob checked
  • Ask the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Use a mileage approximation calculator
  • Download a mileage tracker app

It’s important to note that not every technique can provide accurate results. Continue reading as we dive deeper into these solutions. That way, you can take advantage of your preferred method to check a vehicle’s miles.

Close up Instrument automobile panel with Odometer, How To Tell How Many Miles A Car Has Without The Odometer?

How Do I Find Out How Many Miles My Car Has Without An Odometer?

Different methods exist to help identify the number of miles used in a car without the aid of an odometer. Some of these techniques you may use include (but aren't limited to) the following:

odometer of used car showing mileage

Use A Mileage Scanner

An odometer scanner connects to the Onboard Diagnostics Ports (OBD) on a vehicle. Doing so accesses the vehicle’s odometer records, providing near-immediate access to the automobile’s overall data. Some models may also display other pieces of important information, such as:

  • Engine coolant temperature (ECT)
  • Engine fault codes
  • Current voltage
  • Current fuel levels
  • Average fuel consumption

Once connected to the OBD, an odometer scanner functions by reading the different microchips, processors, and sensors in the vehicle. But take note that the location of this module often differs per car model and type.

It might be best to check your vehicle owner’s manual if you’re having difficulty searching for your car’s OBD. Another way is to contact your carmaker’s customer or technical support service to aid you in this matter.

Check out this automotive scanning tool on Amazon.

Have The Key Fob Checked

In particular, many car key fobs have microchips. Vehicle manufacturers have special equipment to read the information on those components, including the mileage information of the automobile. You can also request to have the mileage report in a printed document if needed.

Ask The Department Of Motor Vehicles

New York State Department of motor Vehicles

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a service wherein individuals may ask for information regarding the last recorded mileage report of a particular vehicle. But it should be worth mentioning that the mileage report might not be up-to-date, which can lead to some issues.

Also, the DMV can only record information about vehicle mileages if:

  • The vehicle is 9 model years old and newer
  • An automobile or motorcycle
  • A commercial vehicle, but only if its gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) doesn’t exceed 16,000 pounds.

Take note that some states may require mileage report requestors to pay a service fee to obtain these documents. However, the costs don’t usually break banks.

For example, Alabama’s Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Division only asks requestors to pay $15 to verify vehicle mileages. In comparison, Washington's Department of Licensing only asks for $2 per car title and record search.

Use A Mileage Approximation Calculator

Before using this tool, keep in mind that the results might not provide accurate results. The reason is that you're going to input rough estimates of different particulars, such as:

  • Last known mileage reading
  • Number of days since the last known mileage reading
  • The average number of miles driver per day

For example, you drive an average of three miles per day, and the last known mileage reading is at 12,000 miles for your vehicle. If it has been about six months since the car’s last official mileage analysis, the approximated mileage of the vehicle should be around 12,540 miles.

Download A Mileage Tracker App

Today, you have different mobile application options to help you track mileage through your smartphone. You can also use the mobile software without the help of an odometer. Many of these apps are even compatible with Android and iOS mobile operating systems.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you get started in tracking miles for your car:

  1. Access the Google Play Store (Android) or Apple App Store (iOS).
  2. Use appropriate terms on the search box, such as ‘mileage tracker.’
  3. Download the tracker app and wait for your device to install it.
  4. Choose the tracking mode.
  5. Keep your mobile device in your car as you drive from your starting point to your destination.
  6. Stop the tracker once you arrive at your preferred location.
  7. Choose to save the mileage information in an easy-to-access file.

Although quite useful, some shortcomings exist if you want to use a mileage tracker app. First, you can only use it to record your car’s miles. So that means you can’t use the application to check the mileage of another vehicle, particularly one that you want to purchase.

Also, some mobile mileage-tracking apps require a small fee for you to take advantage of unlimited readings. One example is Everlance, which is only free for up to 30 trips per month. If you exceed that number, you'll have to pay an additional $8 per month or an annual fee of $60 to continue using the app's mileage recording feature.

Still, you may not need an aftermarket module to install in your vehicle to use some of these apps. But you need to be vigilant and have the discipline to start and stop the recording each time you drive your car.

Can You Install A New Odometer?

Orange colored light dashboard of stop car with 63693 kilometers odometer

You can replace and install a new odometer in your vehicle without the risk of breaking automotive laws. But you’ll most likely replace the entire speedometer on your vehicle’s dashboard to change the odometer.

Check out this replacement speedometer on Amazon.

How To Replace An Odometer In A Car?

Always read your vehicle’s owner’s manual before you continue this task. Doing so should provide you with practical information, particularly about your car's framework. That way, you won't accidentally fiddle around with certain components, which may put the vehicle at risk of acquiring further harm.

Also, and as mentioned previously, the odds are that you’re going to replace the speedometer to swap your car’s odometer. So that means that you should find a compatible speedometer for your vehicle. Trying to install an incompatible speedometer will most likely lead to frustration.

After taking note of those pieces of information, and you still want to proceed with this task without relying on professional services, here’s a general guide on how you can replace your car’s odometer:

What You’ll Need

  • Pliers
  • Wrench set
  • Screwdrivers

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Avoid the risk of electrocution by disconnecting the vehicle's battery connections.
  2. Loosen and remove the screw securing the old speedometer.
  3. Tilt the speedometer slightly and take a picture of its connections.
  4. Disconnect the wiring on the speedometer and take out the instrument slowly.
  5. Install the new speedometer while attaching the wires to the correct terminals.
  6. Screw the new speedometer in place.
  7. Reconnect the battery and test the installation for issues.

Check out this waterproof speedometer on Amazon.

What Happens If You Get Caught Rolling Back Miles?

analogue car odometer concept showing a very low mileage

Make sure not to tamper with the vehicle’s on-board mileage system or you might be facing federal charges. The 49 U.S. Code § 32703 says that meddling with a vehicle’s odometer becomes a crime if:

  • The purpose of the tampering is to sell the vehicle at skyrocketed prices.
  • An intent to deceive an individual that the odometer in the vehicle isn’t connected exists.
  • The person altering the odometer has the intent to violate the preceding provisions.

If found guilty, the person caught rolling back the mileage on an odometer can acquire fines of up to $10,000 per violation. Also, each altered odometer constitutes one violation with the potential damages to pay for might be three times the original fine.

Plus, if a person knowingly and willfully played a part in tampering with an odometer, a federal judge can sentence that individual to up to three years in incarceration in federal prison.

Final Words

Close up Instrument automobile panel with Odometer

You have different methods to use to check a car’s mileage without looking at the odometer. These techniques include having the key fob checked by the carmaker’s technicians and by using a mileage tracking mobile app. Make sure to use the ideal mileage reading choice that fits your preferences and requirements.

If you like this post and would like to know more about the average miles of certain vehicles, here are a couple of posts for your next reads:

How Long Will A Toyota RAV4 Last? [In Miles And Years]

How Many Miles Will A Mercedes GLC 300 Last?