In March 2018, a buyer bought a 2008 GMC Yukon with an odometer reading of 138,616 miles from a dealership. The dealership provided the buyer with two documents showing that the mileage was 138,616, but the bill of sale stated, “odometer reading: exempt.”
Almost immediately after buying the vehicle, the buyer had problems and was told by the dealership that the vehicle needed extensive repairs. When the buyer took the vehicle to get a trade-in valuation, he received a title report showing that, in November 2014, the odometer reading was 199,689 and that, in September 2015, the odometer reading was 98,000.
The buyer sued for violations of the federal Odometer Act. The dealership moved to dismiss, arguing that the Act and regulations expressly exempt vehicles manufactured 10 years before the date of sale. Because the buyer bought the vehicle in March 2018, more than 10 years after its January 2008 manufacture date, the dealership was not required to disclose the vehicle’s mileage.
The buyer argued that even though the dealership did not have a legal obligation to disclose the odometer reading, because it voluntarily disclosed the vehicle’s mileage to him and his lender in two documents provided at the sale, the odometer disclosure must be truthful and accurate.
The federal trial court disagreed with the buyer. The court distinguished a case in which the seller of an RV, exempt from the odometer disclosure requirements, disclosed the odometer reading to the buyer in an Odometer Disclosure Statement and a Buyer’s Order. In this case, no such statements were made, and as noted by the court, the bill of sale specifically stated “EXEMPT” next to the odometer reading. Because the vehicle was exempt from the odometer disclosure requirements in the Odometer Act and the dealership did not waive that exemption in documents it provided to the buyer, the court concluded that the Odometer Act claim failed.