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Used cars: CarCert uncovers speedometer manipulation

The Wiesbaden-based company CarCert verifies used car CVs, ensuring that the mileage is correct and wants to protect customers from speedometer fraud.

Odometer readings are still easy to manipulate. This applies not only to old used vehicles, but also to newer vehicles. A legal regulation since September 2017 actually provides for systematic speedometer protection by the manufacturer. In practice, the automotive industry apparently takes the issue less seriously. This was shown again recently by an ADAC study in which technicians screwed on the mileage of a Ford Kuga (2019), an Opel Grandland X (2020) and a Peugeot 208 (2019). With success. The speedometers were manipulated within a few minutes. The photo show above shows how easy it is.

According to the police, every third used car is cheated, which is why customers pay 2,600 euros too much on average. The company CarCert, founded in Wiesbaden in 2016, is now tackling the problem with a vehicle history certificate to counteract fraud.

Exact documentation of the history

What exactly does that look like? Well, CarCert packs the most important information and data of the vehicle into the certification, which costs almost 30 euros. This includes, for example, historical mileage or the results of all main inspections. The company also takes into account reference mileages of identical models, dates of first registration, manufacturer recalls and the import check. CarCert accesses the data via interfaces from several institutions and companies. These are test centers responsible for main inspections and FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH. According to the Road Traffic Act, the latter has access to vehicle data from testing organizations such as TÜV or DEKRA. The ADAC contributes technical information on manufacturer recalls. Used car market data is provided by Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT), which is supported by the automobile associations.

Evidence from different sources

CarCert is not enough to just rely on individual sources. Why? This is illustrated by an example from the ADAC, which has already demonstrated cases of fraud in mileage databases. A Dutch database certified a BMW 330xd with a odometer reading of around 130,000 kilometers. After an engine failure, it turned out that the car had clocked up a whopping 180,000 kilometers three years earlier before it was sold to Holland with officially stated 40,000 kilometers. In order not to fall for such false notes, CarCert deliberately checks the history using numerous sources and then carries out the plausibility check. Also: New vehicles only have to have their first general inspection after three years. Until then, no test center will write down the mileage.Therefore, manipulations for this period can only be ruled out by different manufacturer, dealer and workshop data from the DAT database.

And data protection?

Permission for said data retrieval is based on the data information request according to Article 15 GDPR . The owner of a vehicle may request their personal data in a self-disclosure. Car manufacturers, TÜV and other data owners must provide the information for the vehicle with the respective vehicle identification number. The vehicle owner transfers this right to CarCert. So the company represents the owner, collects the data and bundles everything in a digital certificate. The previous owners do not need to be informed. To ensure that everything is legally clear, CarCert got extra help from the former Schleswig-Holstein data protection officer Thilo Weichert. "The vehicle identification number and the mileage are personal data that belong to the owner of the car," explained Weichert, who issued a corresponding legal opinion for CarCert.

Those who remain silent are liable

By the way: Due to a change in sales law from January 1, 2022, the seller of a vehicle must classify manipulations of the mileage as "deviations from the normal state". If he does not expressly point this out to the buyer in advance, he is liable to prosecution. According to CarCert Managing Director Patrick Schwenka, there is "finally an effective tool against speedometer manipulation for used car buyers and sellers in Germany". He is pleased that his offer meets the high requirements of data protection.


A certified vehicle CV as a service for only 30 euros? Sounds like a good solution to the still widespread problem with fake mileage. Should the certificates prove useful, they should quickly establish themselves on the used car market.


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