How to Know if a New Car Has Been Tampered with before You Buy It

March 11, 2020

A new car when purchased from a dealer or manufacturer should be new. The car should come as the owner expected and there should be no feeling or hint that the car has been tampered with. If you suspect that to be the case, especially before you buy the car, do not buy the car. You are clearly dealing with a disreputable dealer who should immediately reported to the local better business bureau and state department of business and licensing.

There are some telltale signs that can be checked to determine if a new car has been tampered with. This includes checking to see if the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) match, checking the engine and odometer and taking the car for a test drive. Each of these tests can be telling as to whether or not a change has been made to vehicle and whether the dealer has tampered with it.


The VIN is located on the engine block under the hood. It can also be found on the dash and driver's side door jamb. These numbers should match. It is possible in the case of a car that has been tampered, to remove the VIN from the engine block and replace it with a different one. What normally happens however is a person committing fraud forgets to also change the VIN contained in other locations on the car. If the numbers do not match, fraud has been committed.

Write down the VIN on the engine block and run a car fax report on the vehicle. If information about a previously owned vehicle appears in the car fax, immediately report the dealer to authorities.

Engine check

Checking the engine should also provide insight as to whether a new car has been tampered with or not. A new car engine looks like a new car engine. An engine that is gummed up or contains a lot of grime or dirt is not new. It may be an engine pulled from a previously used vehicle. If you inspect the engine and suspect that the original one has been pulled, ask questions of the dealer.

Odometer Reading

The odometer should have some mileage on it. This would be reflective of nay test drives that have been conducted in the car. It is not untypical to see that a new car has 30 or 40 miles on it through test driving.

Most new cars are built to make it near impossible for a dealer to rollback or change the odometer. That being said, if a car looks like it has more wear and tear than the odometer suggests, ask that an independent mechanic be allowed to examine the car to determine if the odometer has been tampered with.

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