West Jordan car owner says odometer fraud has left her stuck paying thousands on a lemon she can’t drive
May 25, 2023, 11:18 PM | Updated: May 26, 2023, 9:45 am
WEST JORDAN, Utah — Wendie Muhic is the frustrated owner of a 2007 Chevy Tahoe that dies a lot.
“It’s been getting no power to the engine,” she told us during a short trip around the block with us. In fact, during that drive, the Tahoe died three times on her.
“Yeah, this is constant,” Muhic said. “I drive on the road and the motor still runs and it just dies. And there’s cars around me and honestly, it’s not safe.”
These are the types of issues you might associate with a car that has a lot more miles on it. And indeed, it was while trying to get it fixed that Muhic pulled a vehicle history report and learned, it does have a lot more miles!
“The car actually has 180,000 miles on it and when I bought it, it had 98,000 miles on it,” she explained.
That’s right, the report shows that by November 2021, the Tahoe had racked up 180,353 miles. But two months later, in January 2022, the odometer read a mere 97,836. Someone seems to have rolled back over 82,000 miles.
“I was sick to my stomach,” said Muhic of learning about the discrepancy.
She says never would have bought the truck if she’d known the truth. Still, she says the dealer from whom she bought it will not let her out of the loan. Frustrated, Muhic asked us to investigate.
We contacted the dealer, Utah Credit Approval. In an email, the company said they’ve been trying to work with Muhic to repair the Tahoe and have offered to cover nearly two-thirds of the cost to rebuild its transmission. But Muhic “is unwilling to pay her portion,” they wrote. They did not answer questions about Muhic wanting to unwind the deal altogether but stated “there are times when purchasing used vehicles that there can be unforeseen circumstances.”
“They’re supposed to write on the mileage and sign to it that is in fact the mileage that’s on that vehicle,” said Jason Gardner of the Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, or MVED.
Gardner told us MVED investigated Muhic’s case and found, yes, the odometer had indeed been rolled back. But not in Utah. In Florida, before it was bought by Utah Credit Approval.
“We found that you know they relied on the paperwork they received from the person they bought the car for,” he said. “They didn’t do any extra work, like pulling a Carfax report, but they’re not required to in the state of Utah.”
Gardner said they can’t go after someone in Florida for odometer tampering. That’ll have to be up to Muhic.
“She could reach out to the DMV of Florida, motor vehicle enforcement divisions in Florida,” he suggested. “Potentially, a civil action for recovery of damages.”
“I want out of this loan,” Muhic said.
She said she is already on the hook for a $14,000 loan and can’t afford to pay more to get the 180,000-plus mile vehicle running.
“It’s still a piece of junk.”
Now, to help avoid losing money on a car with hidden problems, you can buy your own vehicle history report before you buy the car from a dealer. They usually cost between $25 and $40, and you’ll need the car’s VIN. And experts say you should always have a mechanic look over a used car you considering, no matter who you’re buying it from.