When Is Odometer Reading Exempt? (Explained)

As a car owner, the one thing you already know when it comes to your car is that the odometer reading is very important when it comes to selling the vehicle.

That’s because the mileage or the odometer reading is what will allow dealerships to truly assess the value of the car.

However, there are exemptions to this rule, and that means that there are times when the odometer reading is disregarded when selling a car.

When is the odometer reading exempt?

As a federal rule in the US, all cars that were manufactured before 2011 and are at least 10 years old are exempt from the odometer reading. However, when you are talking about a vehicle that was manufactured from 2011 onwards, the requirement for exemption is 20 years.

Horizontal Speedometer

While the odometer is indeed important when it comes to selling the car because the mileage determines how old the car really is, the years also matter.

That said, as long as your car requires the minimum requirement of years, it will be exempt from the odometer reading.

Then again, you also need to know the new rules as well so that you won’t get into trouble when you try to apply the older rules to your car.

What is the federal odometer tampering law?

When it comes to your odometer, it is no secret that it is very important to make sure that it is actually precise and not tampered with when it comes to selling your vehicle or in any other case.

That’s because the law has a vested interest when it comes to making sure that vehicles are sold for their correct value.

After all, tampering with the odometer can be an act of fraud as you are basically fooling someone into believing that the vehicle is worth more than it really is.

All the said the US has what is called the federal odometer tampering law. In the most basic sense, the law states that you are prohibited from disconnecting, resetting, or altering the motor vehicle’s odometer so that you can change the number of miles on the odometer reading.

This law applies to any kind of vehicle no matter how old it may be or who is selling it.

The law also requires you to write the mileage that is indicated on the odometer reading the moment the title to the vehicle is passed.

That means that you should know that this number is accurate and that you are also required to provide a written statement that proves this fact.

However, if the vehicle is within the exemptions covered by the law, you can simply write “exempt” in the odometer disclosure statement.

However, even if your vehicle is exempt from odometer reading, you are going to end up violating the law if you don’t write exempt and you write an odometer reading that is inaccurate. You are also committing fraud to this effect.

Then again, if the vehicle has a history of multiple prior owners that you probably don’t know and that you honestly don’t know the exact history of its mileage, there are certain considerations as long as you are truthfully and honestly stating to the best of your knowledge that the odometer reading is actual.

Read more on the odometer correction.

Which cars are exempt from odometer reading?

As mentioned, it is a requirement in the entire country that you are required under federal law to make sure that you do not tamper with your odometer and that, when you sell your vehicle, you are declaring the actual odometer reading.

But we did say that there are some exemptions wherein you actually are no longer required to actually declare the odometer reading.

In the past, federal law states that a vehicle that is at least 10 years old is no longer required to declare the odometer reading.

This means that the person who owns the vehicle is under no obligation to declare the mileage on the odometer declaration and that he can simply write “exempt”. 

Then again, you are still required to comply with the federal odometer tampering law by making sure that you do not tamper with your odometer in any way possible.

This holds true even if you may be exempt from declaring your odometer reading.

However, in 2021, an amendment was introduced all over the country as this law not only applies to certain states but in all of the other states in the country as well.

So, while vehicles that may be 10 years or older are still exempt from odometer reading, the new law states that only those that were manufactured before 2011 are included in that 10-year exemption rule.

As such, as long as you are selling a car that was manufactured before 2011, you should be able to exempt yourself from the odometer reading.

Meanwhile, for every vehicle that was manufactured from 2011 onwards, the new law states that the vehicle should be at least 20 years old for it to be exempted from the odometer reading.

The reason for this is unclear but it may be related to how newer vehicles are capable of holding onto their value for a long time regardless of how old they may be.

As such, if you are planning to sell a car that was manufactured in 2011, you need to comply with the odometer reading declaration unless the vehicle is 20 years old, which won’t happen until 2031.

There are also other exemptions to the odometer reading rule. For example, in the state of Wisconsin, there are exemptions such as when it is a non-motorized vehicle like a trailer car or if you are talking about something as small as a moped.

Low-speed vehicles are also exempt and so are vehicles that are registered to have a gross weight of over 16,000.

So, if you live in Wisconsin and your vehicle falls under these exemptions regardless of its age, you are no longer required to actually declare the odometer reading when you want to sell your vehicle.

Sources

The consumer law group: older cars are exempt from the odometer disclosure

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT): Vehicle info

Daily update transportation: Reporting odometer mileage when selling a vehicle

Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association: Odometer Disclosure Exemption

Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles: New Federal Rule Extends Odometer Disclosure for Used Vehicles