How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Whether you’re planning to purchase or sell a used car, you may be thinking of how to reset the miles on a car.

However, when resetting your car miles, it’s important to note car manufacturers do not recommend this act. The car should display its actual mileage throughout its lifetime.

Before I share the tricks of car mileage resetting, I’ll explain one key device you’ll have to learn how it works.

An odometer- is a device located in the instrument cluster that calculates the distance you’ve driven your car in its lifetime. The odometer displays the distance travelled in terms of miles or kilometres.

Further, the odometer helps to determine the car’s service time or other routine maintenance practices.

With that knowledge, you would like to reset the odometer mileage in a car for various reasons;

  • You’re selling a used car, and you would want to attract more resale value by resetting it to a lower mileage.
  • Your car instrument cluster faces some errors, and the odometer keeps resetting itself.
  • Your instrument cluster has completely failed, and it needs repair and odometer resetting.
  • Your instrument cluster is damaged and needs replacement. 

It’s important to note; the first reason is considered fraud. It’s a wrong intention to deceive your buyers, and the act is forbidden and may be punishable by the law.

Additionally, note that the information in this article is for legally approved odometer reset practices, not for fraudulent purposes.

How to Reset the Miles on a Car
Image: Odometer

Legal Standings on How to Reset the Miles on a Car

Depending on your country of origin, various laws govern the practice of mile resetting or odometer change. For instance, the United States federal government has set laws and regulations governing odometer fraud. It states;

  • You should not advertise, sell, or use a vehicle that has a failed odometer or odometer readings are different from the mileage it has been driven.
  • You shouldn’t disconnect or reset the odometer with the intention to alter the mileage it has registered.

However, it further states that if your odometer has failed, you should keep track of miles registered and later reset the mileage on the newly installed instrument cluster’s odometer.

Luckily, the odometer mileage data is stored electronically in the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) or the gauge cluster in modern cars. As such, the readings automatically update on the newly installed device.

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The Secrets of Resetting Miles on Your Car

car mileage resetting
Image: Odometer

As I stated earlier, modern vehicles store odometer mileage records electronically. For this reason, you’ll need some computer knowledge to reset.

However, for most Japanese car models like Toyota, you can carry out odometer reset easily.

There are four ways you can reset your odometer;

  • Replacing your instrument cluster
  • Playing with the knob
  • Reassembling your odometer
  • Replace or reprogram your car’s ECU.

1. Replacing Your Instrument Cluster

The mileage data is stored in the instrument cluster in older vehicle models and a few Japanese cars. For this reason, if you replace the instrument cluster with a new one, the mileage will read zero.

In another case, you may need to replace the instrument cluster with a used one from a similar car model.

Unfortunately, the odometer will display the mileage of the original vehicle. But if the readings are lower than your actual mileage, it’s an advantage.

Note, older car models, and most Japanese models use mechanical odometers. And, resetting the mileage is a bit easier compared to other models.

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 2. Playing With the Knob

On the instrument cluster, there is a knob that carries out various functions like evaluating the engine temperature and checking the fuel volume.

Interestingly, if you press this knob for a few seconds, fuel economy will show its status, and the mileage will revert to zero. Additionally, if you want to reset the trip miles, this knob can help you.

3. Reassembling Your Odometer

If you’re a car enthusiast, you have some technical knowledge about a mechanical odometer. You’ll need some common mechanical tools like pliers and a screwdriver to dismount the instrument cluster.

After dismounting, open the clock and adjust the mileage values. However, you should be careful because some automakers install a tamper-proof seal to protect the readings.

To add on instrument cluster replacement as discussed in the first method, you can reassemble the odometer from a different car model and revert it to zero using this method.

4. Replace or Reprogram Your Car ECU

The instrument cluster is electronically controlled by the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) in modern cars. So, the mileage records are stored in the ECU.

For this reason, if you change the instrument cluster, the information will automatically update on the new device you install.

You will have to replace your car ECU to reset your mileage on an electronically controlled odometer.

On reprogramming, you’ll require computer knowledge to lower your mileage. Else, you hire an automotive repair technician to assist you.

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How Do I Know My Car’s Odometer Has Been tampered with?

If you intend to buy a used car, you’re interested to know if the odometer is tampered with. Luckily, you can use these tips to determine if your dealer is selling you a car with genuine mileage.

  • Ask for the vehicle’s title and compare odometer mileage with the registered year.
  • Ask to see the vehicle maintenance and inspection records. Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage on the records.
  • Observe the vehicle wear and tear, especially the accelerator, clutch, and brake pedals. You can additionally observe the entire body and interior condition and make logical decisions by comparing with the car mileage.

How Do I Reset My Odometer after Engine Swap?

The odometer is designed to show the mileage of the entire vehicle. Remember, the car has many parts prone to wear and tear, especially the chassis.

If you have a new engine installed, the paperwork from the engine shop has all the information regarding its mileage. You should keep this paperwork and take your vehicle title to the relevant authorities for stamping.

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Does putting a new engine in a car increase the value?

A new engine installed in a car has less wear and tear compared to the car’s original engine. As such, the new engine may command a higher resale value.

However, there are several key areas that a buyer may look at before purchasing the car, like;

  • The condition of the tires
  • The odometer reading
  • The condition of the interior.
  • The chassis and the body

The fact that a new engine is installed or you have reset the miles on a car doesn’t mean it will appreciate resale value. The above key areas may be considered while pricing. 

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