How to Get Mileage from a Broken Odometer – 8 Tricks

You are currently viewing How to Get Mileage from a Broken Odometer – 8 Tricks

If your digital or mechanical odometer stopped working there are numerous ways to retrieve, verify or approximate a mileage reading for your vehicle.

So, how can you get the mileage off of a vehicle with a broken odometer?  There are 8 ways to obtain a vehicle’s mileage reading without an odometer: 

  1. Odometer scan tool
  2. Online telematics such as OnStar app 
  3. Mileage data from vehicle key memory
  4. Dealership service department
  5. State title and odometer report from DMV
  6. Using a vehicle history report
  7. Maintenance records
  8. Advanced technical measures

1. Odometer Scan Tool / Mileage Scanner 

An odometer scanner can be used to get the mileage from a broken odometer by connecting into the Onboard Diagnostics Port (OBD) and accessing the vehicle’s odometer memory. The mileage is then displayed on the screen of the scan tool. 

The location where the odometer data is stored varies by manufacturer, model and age of the vehicle but can sometimes be accessed by the OBD port under the dashboard.   Some older vehicles store the odometer data in the dashboard gauge cluster or the main computer. More modern vehicles can store mileage data in multiple computers and modules within the vehicle. Some new vehicles with cellular connectivity also store mileage remotely on the manufacturers servers.  

Consumer grade scan tools range in price from $100 to over $400.  Not all years, makes and models are supported by each tool so if you decide on a scan tool make sure it is compatible with your vehicle. Additionally, very few consumer grade scan tools can read odometer memory so make sure the tools features specifically state access to odometer data for your year, make and model.  

2. Online Vehicle Telematics (GM OnStar, Toyota Safety Connect, Honda Link, Hyundai Blue Link, BMW Safety Assist, Tesla etc.)

Telematics systems like OnStar will keep mileage records for your vehicle on the manufacturers servers. You can access this information through your manufacturers phone app or website. You might even be able to call customer service and see if they can connect to your vehicle to obtain a reading.

3. Obtain Mileage from the Memory in your Car Key

Late model vehicles such as Volvo and Mercedes store mileage data on a chip inside the vehicle key.  You can take your key to the dealership and have the service department scan it and print out a mileage report.     

4. Dealership Service Department

A dealership or well equipped independent mechanic will have professional grade computer diagnostic scanners that will be capable of obtaining your odometer information. These scanners cost thousands of dollars to purchase and hundreds of dollars each year just for subscriptions to up to date vehicle data.   I personally prefer the service department from a dealer that sells your vehicle as they have direct support from the manufacturer as well as access to factory technical manuals. 

You would want to obtain a “screen shot” of the mechanics scan tool displaying the odometer reading and have the service writer certify this mileage in their service record.  

5. State Title and Odometer Report from DMV

Most states provide services that will allow you to lookup a vehicles title and odometer history. You can obtain the last known odometer reading and sometimes all of the mileage readings and inspection dates the state has on file. Some of these services can be free where as some states charge to obtain mileage records. A list of contacts for each state is available at the bottom of this page.

6. Obtain Mileage from a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report gathers sales, repair and mileage data from repair shops, state inspection centers and motor vehicle department records.  The most popular vehicle history report is from CARFAX™.  

Most estimating systems insurance companies can generate this report based off the VIN number when the vehicle is inspected.  With most popular vehicles, the adjuster will have a last known mileage reading almost instantly. 

7. Obtain Mileage from Maintenance Records

Maintenance records are also a helpful way of approximating a vehicles mileage and can be more accurate than a vehicle history report if they are recent. 

If you do not have your maintenance records, you can always call your repair shop and have them fax or email them directly to your adjuster.  Tire shops also document your vehicle’s mileage so they are a great mileage source as well.

Once the last known mileage reading is obtained, you can approximate the current mileage based on yearly driving habits.  

So if you drive 12000 miles a year and the last reported odometer reading of 30000 miles was 6 months ago, then you can make an educated approximation that the car has 36000 miles on it.

Try the mileage approximation calculator below:

8. Advanced Technical Measures

If the odometer will not illuminate, advanced technical measures can be taken to re-energize the electrical system, even if the vehicle was heavily damaged in an accident.

These measures will include the attaching a 12 volt jump box on to the vehicle’s battery to try to energize the vehicle’s electrical system.  If the battery cannot be accessed or is heavily damaged, some vehicles can be energized through the cigarette lighter with a dual male ended 12 volt cord.

An odometer can also be energized through the fuse box under the hood or interior compartment. By probing the corresponding electrical terminals on the fuse block for the gauge cluster circuit, you can illuminate it temporarily to obtain a reading and photo. The aforementioned methods should only be attempted by qualified technicians as dealing with electricity in a damaged vehicle can be life-threatening.

If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company keeps your totaled vehicle and sells it through an auction house to recoup their claims loss. It is in the interest of the auction center and insurance company to obtain the vehicle’s mileage as this can yield a higher sale price at auction.  

Once the vehicle arrives at the auction, the technical staff will take advanced measures to obtain the vehicles mileage as part of the intake process.

Once the technician obtains the mileage, they take a picture of the odometer and upload it to a website with their intake report. The auto damage adjuster can check the auctions website for the odometer picture.  You can also ask the adjuster for a copy of the odometer picture since this website is for insurance company access only.   

How to dispute and negotiate an improper mileage reading

Adjusters are usually pressed for time and do not always make an effort to go through all of the above steps to approximate an accurate mileage for your total loss valuation. 

Place the burden on your adjuster to prove they are not making any errors:

  • Confirm your vehicle’s mileage via pictures from the adjuster or aforementioned techniques.
  • If your mileage was approximated, ask the adjusters how they obtained the mileage, and ask for their calculations.  
  • Make sure the driving habits used for the calculation; mileage per day / week / month they are using is accurate.  If you recently started driving less, inform them of this so they reduce your assumed driving habits.

List of State DMV Contacts for Odometer and Title Reports:

Department of Revenue
Motor Vehicle Division
Title Section
50 N. Ripley St
PO Box 327640
Montgomery, AL  36132-7640
(334) 242-9102
Division of Motor Vehicles
1300 W. Benson Blvd
Anchorage, AK  99503-3600
(907) 269-5551
Motor Vehicle Division
1801 West Jefferson
PO Box 2100
Phoenix, AZ   85001-2100
602) 255-0072
$3 for each titled owner in history.  Include  reason for request and notarized signature.
AZ Vin Odometer Smog Check
Office of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 1272
Little Rock, AR  72203
$1, plus $1 per title copy
Department of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 942869
Sacramento, CA  94269-0001
(800) 777-0133
$5 for each titled owner in history  plus $20 for copies. Include reason for request.
Department of Revenue
Motor Vehicle Business Group
Titles & Registration
Denver, CO  80261-0016
(303) 205-5608
$6 for each titled owner in history (non-refundable)
Department of Motor Vehicles
60 State St
Wethersfield, CT  06161
(860) 263-5700
Division of Motor Vehicles
Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 698
Dover, DE  19903
(302) 744-2500
$4 for each titled owner in history
Dept of Motor Vehicle Services
301 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 727-5000
$2 for each titled owner in history
Division of Motor Vehicles
Neil Kirkman Building
2900 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL  32399-0500
(850) 922-9000
$1 for each page
Dept of Motor Vehicle Safety
Motor Vehicle Services
PO Box 740381
Atlanta, GA  30374-0381
(404) 362-6500
Dept of Customer Services
Division of Motor Vehicles, Licensing & Permits
PO Box 30330
Honolulu, HI  96820-0330
(808) 532-7700
No fee
Transportation Department
Division of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707-1129
(208) 334-8000
Secretary of State’s Office
Vehicle Services Department
501 S. 2nd St, Room 312
Springfield, IL  62756
(217) 785-3000
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Government Center North
100 N. Senate Ave, Rm N440
Indianapolis, IN  46204
(317) 233-6000
$4 plus 50 cents for each page
Department of Transportation
Office of Vehicle Services
100 Euclid Ave
PO Box  9278
Des Moines, IA  50306-9278
(515) 237-3049 or 237-3148
$2.70 for every 15 minutes searching plus 10 cents for each copy of a title
Department of Revenue
Division of Vehicles
Docking State Office Building
915 Southwest Harrison
Topeka, KS  66626-0001
(785) 296-3621
Transportation Cabinet
Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing
PO Box 2014
Frankfort, KY  40622-2014
(502) 564-5301
Department of Public Safety
Motor Vehicle Division
7979 Independence Blvd
PO Box 64886
Baton Rouge, LA  70896-4886
(225) 925-6388 or
(877) 368-5463
Secretary of State
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
29 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333-0029
(207) 624-9000
Motor Vehicle Administration
6601 Ritchie Highway, NE
Glen Burnie, MD  21062
(301) 729-4550
$2 for each titled owner in history
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Title Division
PO Box 199136
Boston, MA  02119-9136
(617) 351-9550
Department of State
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI  48918
(517) 322-1460
$6.55 for each titled owner in history, telephone requests accepted
Driver and Vehicles Services Division
445 Minnesota St
St. Paul, MN  55105
(651) 296-6911
$4 plus $1 for each titled owner in history
State Tax Commission
Office of Revenue / Title Bureau
PO Box 1383
Jackson, MS  39215
(601) 923-7200
$4.50 for each titled owner in history
Department of Revenue
Driver & Vehicle Services Bureau
301 W. High
P.O. Box 100
Jefferson City, MO  65105-0100
(573) 751-8383
$4 for each titled owner in history
Department of Justice
Motor Vehicle Division
Title & Registration Bureau
1003 Buckskin Dr.
Deer Lodge, MT  59722-2371
(406) 486-6000
$6, plus 50 cents for each copy
Department of Motor Vehicles
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 94789
Lincoln, NE  68509-4789
(402) 471-3918
$1 for each titled owner in history
Department of Motor Vehicles
555 Wright Way
Carson City, NV  89711
(775) 684-4368
Department of Safety
Division of Motor Vehicles
James Hayes Safety Building
23 Hazen Dr.
Concord, NH  03305
(603) 271-2251
Motor Vehicle Commission
225 E. State St
Trenton, NJ  08666
(609) 292-6500
Motor Vehicle Division
Joseph M. Montoya Building
P.O. Box 1028
Santa Fe, NM  87504-1028
(505) 827-2257
$10 if only one titled owner, $25 for more than 1 titled owner
Department of Motor Vehicles
6 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY  12228
(518) 486-4714
$5 (Check or money order payable to “The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles”
Division of Motor Vehicles
Motor Vehicles Building
1100 New Bern Ave
Raleigh, NC  27697
(919) 715-7000
Department of Transportation
Motor Vehicle Division
608 East Boulevard Ave
Bismarck, ND  58505-0780
(701) 328-2725
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Title Division
1970 W. Broad St
P.O. Box 16520
Columbus, OH  43216-6520
(614) 752-7671
Tax Commission
Motor Vehicle Division
2501 Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73194
(405) 521-3221
$1 for each titled owner in history
Department of Transportation
Driver & Motor Vehicle Services
1905 Lane Ave, NE
Salem, OR  97314
(503) 945-5000
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
1101 S. Front St
Harrisburg, PA  17104-2516
(717) 391-6190
$5 for each titled owner
Division of Motor Vehicles
286 Main St
Pawtucket, RI  02860
(401) 588-3020
Department of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 1498
Blythewood, SC  29016
(803) 737-4000
Dept of Revenue & Regulation
Division of Motor Vehicles
445 E. Capital Ave
Pierre, SD 57501-3185
(605) 773-3541
Department of Safety
Title & Registration Division
44 Vantage Way, Suite 160
Nashville, TN  37243-8050
(615) 741-3101
Department of Transportation
Vehicle Titles & Registration Division
Austin, TX  78779-0001
(512) 465-7611
State Tax Commission
Motor Vehicle Division
210 North1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT  84134
(801) 297-7780
$2 for each titled owner
Agency of Transportation
Department of Motor Vehicles
120 State St
Montpelier, VT  05603-0001
(802) 828-2000
Department of Motor Vehicles
2300 W. Broad St
PO Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269
(866) 368-5463
$5 for each titled owner in history
Department of Licensing
Vehicle Licensing
PO Box 9909
Olympia, WA  98507
(360) 902-3770
$2 for each titled owner in history
Department of Transportation
Division of Motor Vehicles
1800 Kanawha Blvd E, Bldg 3
Charleston, WV  25317
(304) 558-3900
Department of Transportation
Division of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 7918
Madison, WI  53707-7998
(608) 266-1466
$2 for each titled owner in history plus 25 cents per page, telephone requests accepted
Department of Transportation
Motor Vehicle Services
5300 Bishop Blvd
Cheyenne, WY  82009-3340
(307) 777-4851

Leave a Reply