fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Automotive News

I will not get the pleasure of seeing my car's odometer reach 100,000 miles. No, there is no accident or catastrophic breakdown involved. Instead, it's the stupidity of federal law.

Here's the background:

1) I don't drive a lot. I live across the street from a metro station and work a couple of blocks from a metro station and I'd rather spend my commute time sitting on a train reading a novel than stuck in traffic. In L.A. I drove about 8000 miles a year. Here it is more like 2500.

2) I do, however, have a car. It's a 1994 Saturn that I call Neptune because that's the obvious name for a space geek to give a blue-green Saturn.

3) Somewhere around December, Neptune's odometer stopped working. For a long time, I thought that it was just the trip meter which wasn't working because I was using that to look at mileage between refueling. So it was a while before I realized the odometer was actually sitting still.

4) At the time the odometer broke, the mileage was 89,700.

So I finally needed to get other service (i.e. oil change and tire rotation) done and I dropped the car off at Saturn of Fairfax after work today. (This is also referred to as taking Neptune in for a doctor's appointment.) I asked about getting the odometer repaired. They told me that:

a) They could replace it, at a cost of roughly $500.

b) There is, however, no point in replacing it because they would have to set it to at least 96,000 miles based on the time since the last time I had Neptune in for service unless I could prove the actual mileage. I asked how one proves the mileage when the odometer is not working and they basically said, "well, you can't."

The guy then explained that federal law requires them to use an average mileage of 12000 miles a year when setting a new odometer. Otherwise it is odometer fraud. (I am not convinced that he is correct. I believe that there is a way to do some certification on the odometer which says it does not reflect the actual mileage. But this is what he told me.)

Now, here is the part that is stupid. From February 1994 to September 2007, which is 163 months, I drove a little under 89,000 miles. Which is about 550 miles per month. So, one would expect that in 7 months, I would have driven about 3850 miles, not 7000 miles. And that number is, of course, inflated since the mileage I drove in Los Angeles (where I commuted by car) is far higher than the mileage I drive here where I commute by public transit.

In fact, they have records of the mileage since I moved here because they record it when you take the car in for service, so they could do a better estimate.

In short, they persuaded me not to get the odometer repaired. I'm happy to save the money. But I was kind of looking forward to seeing it turn over to 100,000.

By the way, if you think I'm pathetic, my mother drives a 1978 Olds Cutlass, which has just over 50,000 miles on it.
Tags: cars

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