Is it Legal to Drive if the Odometer Is Not Working?

by Ronnie Daniels
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You may drive a car with a broken odometer in most states. If you sell the car, you must inform the buyer that the odometer does not work. Car dealers are subject to strict laws to prevent odometer tampering.

Intent to Defraud

It is illegal to operate a car with the odometer disconnected with the intent to later deceive a buyer as to the actual mileage. Deceiving a buyer in this manner is punishable as fraud.


State law requires that no person transfer title to a vehicle with a broken odometer without notifying the recipient of the fact. The Ohio Public Safety Department requires a notice to be given in writing regarding any failure, defect or tampering with the odometer.

Over 10 Years Old

The law requires the odometer reading be recorded when registering a vehicle if it is under 10 years old. Write “unreadable” on the title certificate if the odometer is broken. If the odometer has rolled over, write the displayed mileage on the title certificate and check the "Exceeds Mechanical Limits" box.

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