Motor Dealers Winding Back Speedometers in Queensland: The Role of the Office of Fair Trading

The practice of winding back speedometers in vehicles is not only unethical but also illegal. Unfortunately, it still occurs in the car dealership industry in Queensland. In this article, we will explore the issue of motor dealers winding back speedometers in Queensland, the investigative and punitive powers of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), and what consumers can do to protect themselves.

What is Speedometer Winding Back?

Speedometer winding back is the process of altering the mileage recorded on a vehicle’s odometer to make it appear as if it has traveled fewer kilometers than it has. This is done to increase the value of the vehicle, as a lower odometer reading suggests that the car is less worn and more desirable. In reality, this is a fraudulent practice that deceives the buyer, putting them at risk of paying more for a vehicle that is less valuable than they think.

What is the Role of the Office of Fair Trading?

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is responsible for enforcing the Australian Consumer Law in Queensland. They have the power to investigate and take legal action against motor dealers who engage in fraudulent practices such as speedometer winding back. The OFT can also impose penalties and fines on those found guilty of breaking the law.

Investigative Powers of the OFT

The OFT has the power to investigate suspected cases of speedometer winding back. They can request records and documents from motor dealers, such as service history and odometer readings, to compare them with the advertised mileage. The OFT can also inspect vehicles and take legal action against dealers who fail to cooperate with their investigations.

Punitive Powers of the OFT

If a motor dealer is found guilty of speedometer winding back, the OFT can take legal action against them. This can include imposing fines and penalties, seeking compensation for affected consumers, and issuing orders to stop the illegal practices. The OFT can also suspend or cancel the motor dealer’s license, preventing them from operating in the industry.

Why is Speedometer Winding Back Illegal?

It is an offence to tamper with an odometer with the intention to misrepresent the distance the vehicle has travelled. Misrepresentation includes a reading showing that the vehicle has travelled, either:

  • less than a specified distance
  • more than a specified distance.

The maximum fine for tampering with an odometer in Queensland is $28,750.00 or 2 years imprisonment.

You can be charged with this offence even if you are not a motor dealer.

What Can Consumers Do to Protect Themselves?

Consumers can protect themselves from falling victim to speedometer winding back by doing their due diligence before purchasing a vehicle. This includes:

  1. Obtaining a vehicle history report: This will show the true mileage and any reported incidents or accidents.
  2. Checking the condition of the vehicle: Signs of wear and tear can indicate that the vehicle has travelled more kilometres than advertised.
  3. Having the vehicle inspected by a mechanic: A professional inspection can identify any issues with the vehicle, including signs of tampering with the odometer.


Speedometer winding back is a fraudulent practice that deceives consumers and puts them at risk of paying more for a vehicle that is less valuable than they think. The Office of Fair Trading has the investigative and punitive powers to take legal action against motor dealers who engage in this illegal practice. Consumers can protect themselves by obtaining a vehicle history report, checking the condition of the vehicle, and having it inspected by a professional mechanic before making a purchase.


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