7 on your Side: Young car-buyer wrangled into a ripoff

A young car buyer believes he was wrangled into a rip-off. Before he bought his first car, a used Jeep, someone tinkered with the odometer.

"I was pretty upset, " said 19-year-old Riley Sullivan.

He recently found out his 2001 Jeep held a sneaky secret - the odometer was rolled back 100,000 miles.

"I came home and showed my mom, and she went ballistic," said Sullivan.

Last spring when COVID closed Sullivan's college, the USC sophomore headed home. He needed wheels, so he spotted a used Jeep for sale in front of his local auto body shop. He broke the bank - spending all his savings - $7,200, that he had earned working summers at a nearby camp.

Then just months after his purchase the Wrangler started rattling.

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"When I'm in first or I'm reversing, when I'm going slow, it makes this weird creaking sound," said Sullivan.

The teen took the Jeep to two mechanics, who gave him the bad news that the engine was shot

"(To replace) the entire engine would be anywhere from 3 to $4,000," said Sullivan.

That was way too much for the virtual student's budget. He decided to sell. He brought it to a dealer - who pulled the Carfax and found a "mileage inconsistency,' code for the odometer had been tampered with.

"I was pretty mad. It was an expensive car, big purchase," said Sullivan.

The bill of sale from last May states the Jeep had 119,068 miles on it.

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CarFax contradicts. The Jeep registered 192,118 back 2017, 73,000 more miles - three years before Sullivan bought it.

When he and his mom marched back to the seller. Sullivan says he never admitted doing anything wrong.

Carfax says there are 1.8 million cars on the road whose odometers have been rolled back. In the Tri-State Area alone - there are 86 thousand cars with the wrong mileage- second in the nation only to Los Angeles.

7 on your Side appealed to the seller --who said the mileage mix-up wasn't his doing. After a long phone conversation, the seller then admitted that the student had overpaid. He apologized and cut him a refund of one thousand dollars.

The big takeaway is to always buy a car from a reputable dealer and make sure you research and see what the customer reviews are. Always pull a vehicle history report - and look it over carefully, make sure the VIN and the mileage match, so you know what you're purchasing.

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