What Is Current Odometer Reading? (Why’s It Important?)

Your odometer is one of the most important things that you need to look at when it comes to your car. Because there are a lot of underlying things you need to understand about it especially when you are planning on selling your car in the future.

Of course, if you are buying a used car, the odometer reading is also very important for you to look at.

What exactly is the current odometer reading and what does it mean?

The odometer reading is one of the key factors when it comes to determining the value of a used car because of how it shows you how far the car has been driven. It basically means the reading of the mileage on your odometer but it can be weighed against past recorded values for discrepancies.

Odometer reading

What do you mean by current odometer reading?

When it comes to your car, the instrument cluster has plenty of different instruments that are there for a good purpose.

While we often look at our fuel gauge and our speedometer on a daily basis whenever we are driving, one of the most overlooked parts of the instrument cluster is the odometer, which becomes useful only when we want to know the vehicle’s mileage.

This is not to be mistaken for trip meter, read this article to find out more about the difference.

That said, you need to look at the odometer when you are looking to either sell your car or if you are planning on buying a used car. The reason is due to the fact that the odometer reading is there to help you determine the vehicle’s resale value.

After all, the more mileage the car has, the less valuable it becomes as mileage it is directly proportional to the wear and tear of any mechanical vehicle. 

So, if you were to sell or buy a car, it is important to maintain your service records which include the odometer reading and cross-check it against the current odometer reading of the vehicle.

But what do we mean by current odometer reading?

Basically speaking, the current odometer reading is the actual reading that you can see in your odometer at any given point in time.

These are the numbers that you see on the odometer as they reflect the vehicle’s mileage in the sense that these are the number of miles that the vehicle has been driven.

So, if you are planning on selling your vehicle, what happens is that you will have to sell your title application where the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will inspect the current odometer reading on your vehicle then use past records like service history and different documents to determine whether or not the current odometer reading reflects the actual mileage on your odometer. 

If the DMV marks it as “actual mileage”, that means that the current odometer reading of the vehicle is the correct one and that there are no discrepancies when the current odometer reading was weighed against past documents that also show some of the previous readings of your vehicle’s odometer.

However, if there are any discrepancies between the odometer’s current reading and the records, then you could collect evidence that may prove that the current odometer reading is actual and true.

Such evidence can be maintenance or service records, inspection records, and work orders, among others. 

If you have a car imported, the odometer could be in kilometers instead of miles. Morden cars should show readings in both kilometers or miles and can be changed with a push of a button so take note of what value your odometer is showing.

Read this article if you want to know more about how to find the difference.

If you are able to present evidence to the DMV and it has been accepted, then the current odometer reading on your vehicle will be listed as “actual”, which means that what is reflected on the odometer is the vehicle’s true mileage.

And once the DMV has determined what the current odometer reading is, that is final and not subject to change!


How can you tell what the current odometer reading is?

As mentioned, when you are talking about the current odometer reading, it merely refers to the reading that your odometer currently has or upon the time when you had the vehicle inspected by the DMV if you are planning on selling it.

But how could you even tell what the current odometer reading is?

Simply put, you only need to read the current reading on your odometer to know your car’s mileage.

To read an odometer, what you need to do is to look for the small rectangle on the vehicle’s instrument cluster as this rectangle should be located close to the speedometer.

That rectangle should be present in vehicles that make use of a mechanical instrument cluster, which is quite common in some of the older car models. The rectangle should have several digits of numbers, which reflect the current odometer reading.

Meanwhile, if you have a newer vehicle that is using a digital instrument cluster, the odometer might not be easier to find because of how some digital instrument clusters reflect different values.

There are some digital instrument clusters that show all of the instruments but they are reflected in their digital values instead of in gauges. This means that the odometer should be located somewhere close to the speedometer and here is an article that tells you more about digital odometers.

There are also instrument clusters that may use tablets or touchscreens instead of the traditional instrument cluster.

It might be a bit trickier to find the odometer as it really depends on the vehicle you are driving. But, in most cases, you can swipe the screen one by one until you see numbers that are labelled as your mileage or your current odometer reading.

What makes the current odometer reading important?

So, the current odometer reading of your vehicle is important because, when you are selling your car and you are presenting it to the DMV, they will look at the current odometer reading so that they can determine if it is the actual mileage of your vehicle.

As such, when you know your current odometer reading, you can weigh it against any past documents that will prove that what the odometer is showing is your vehicle’s actual mileage.

The reason for this is that it is quite common for odometers to be rolled back by some people for the sake of getting a higher price on the vehicle.

In some instances, the odometer could simply be broken since you have last inspected it. Read this article if you want to know more about broken odometers or if your odometer is going fast and needs calibration.

So, knowing the current odometer reading should provide you with the face value that the DMV will now try to weigh against using past documents to truly determine whether the mileage on your vehicle is actual and accurate.


What is an Odometer?

4 Things to Know about an Odometer Reading