Odometer Overview

U.S. 49 CFR §§ 580

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Tenn. Code Ann. Section 39-14-132


  • “Truth in Mileage Act” or TIMA
    • The first “Odometer” statute was passed by Congress in 1972, known as the Truth in Mileage Act or TIMA. It was amended in 1986, when the process became mandatory. It is the 1986 Act we associate with odometers since the amended act changed the way dealers, customers and states process a transfer of ownership.
  • “Conforming Title” means a certificate of title which “conforms” to the exact language and requirements of TIMA, where the odometer disclosure has been accurately acknowledged.
  • “Mileage” means the actual distance that a vehicle has traveled. NHTSA very clearly
    indicated that there is a difference between “mileage” and “odometer reading”.
    •  NHTSA was clear to stipulate that “mileage” is not associated with any vehicle component, such as an engine or transmission. As an example, a 200,000 mile car that receives an engine with only 79,000 miles of use cannot have a new title issued to reflect the engine’s lower mileage.
    • Under this definition, NHTSA also made it perfectly clear that it is permissible to change an odometer from kilometers to miles, or vice versa, and continue to have an “Actual” mile brand on a title; provided however, that the odometer disclosure in miles is based on the mathematical formula to convert from kilometers to miles. That responsibility lies on the party making the odometer disclosure.
  • “Transferee” (Buyer) means any person to whom the ownership in a motor vehicle is transferred, or any person who, as agent, accepts transfer of ownership in a vehicle for another, by purchase, gift of any means other than by creation of a security interest.
  • “Transferor” (Seller or Dealer) means any person who transfers his ownership, or any person who, as agent, transfers the ownership of another, in a motor vehicle by sale, gift of any means other than by creation of a security interest.


  • Odometer Rule Change: The odometer exemption rule has changed from 10 to 20 years. This will go into effect on January 1, 2021. We have attached the details from AAMVA to this email, more information will be forthcoming. This will be a rolling change and will take time to require a 20 year requirement. What is expected January 1, 2021- any transfer that occurs on or after 1/01/2021 on a model year 2011 or newer model year vehicle will be required to complete an odometer disclosure.


  • Beginning  on January 1, 2021 the odometer exemption rule changed from  10 to 20 years. This “rolling” exemption will add an additional model year worth of vehicles each January until the 20-year exemption is fully implemented. Prior to this final rule, beginning on January 1, 2021, model year 2011 vehicles would have been exempt from odometer disclosure requirements. Now, model year 2011 vehicles will not become exempt from the requirements until January 1, 2031. Today states are required to capture the odometer reading for model year 2011 and will now be required to continue to do so until 2031.
  • TIMA and subsequent regulations issued by the NHTSA require the odometer reading of any motor vehicle with a manufacture year less than twenty (20) years, to be accurately disclosed on the title or transfer document. This is known as “Odometer Disclosure” and is acknowledged by the signatures of both the buyer and seller at the time of transfer. The seller ‘discloses’  this information on the title and certifies it is correct to the best of their knowledge. The buyer acknowledges what the seller has certified. This disclosure may also be made on an “Odometer Disclosure Statement”.  
  • Note: If a vehicle is being transferred from a dealership to another dealership, it is not necessary to certify odometer until the dealership sells that vehicle to a customer.


  • An odometer brand explains the circumstances that support the odometer disclosure. The brands are defined by NHTSA regulations as:
    • Actual: the mileage as stated is the Actual Mileage, there are no discrepancies.
    • In Excess of Mechanical Limits: Due to limited digits on a vehicle’s odometer, the actual mileage is impossible to determine by ‘sight’. Example: a vehicle with a 5-digit odometer could not accurately identify mileage over 99,999 miles. If the odometer has ‘turned’ there is no way to determine how many times it has turned. This is becoming almost non-existent in that vehicles now routinely have 6-digit odometers, allowing up to 999,999 miles before turning.
    • Not Actual Mileage: WARNING – An Odometer Discrepancy must be completed, or titling transactions will be delayed. 
    • Exempt: As defined by NHTSA, “a transferor of any of the following motor vehicles need not disclose the vehicle’s odometer mileage under the following circumstances:
      • Vehicle having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of more than 16,000 lbs
      • Vehicle that is not self-propelled
      • Vehicle that is 20 years old or older
      • Vehicle sold directly by the manufacturer to any agency of the United States in conformity with contractual specifications
      • New vehicle prior to its first transfer for purposes other than resale


  • While “correcting a mistake” was not outlined by NHTSA when publishing the various
    regulations enacted in TIMA, Tennessee allows for odometer disclosure errors to be
    “corrected” by using one or more “Odometer Discrepancy Certification” forms.


  • Since the “giving and receiving” of an odometer disclosure is required of both the buyer and seller in each transfer of ownership, we require the same during the process to correct an odometer disclosure that was made in error.
  • The Odometer Discrepancy form must be signed by the person who made the original mistake. Signing the discrepancy certificate by power of attorney (POA) is not allowed, unless the original POA signing the Odometer Discrepancy Certification is the original party who made the mistake.
  • Obtaining a new certificate of title for each disclosure is not necessary.
  • The completed odometer discrepancy forms will support the “corrected title”.
  • Only Authorized State Personnel are allowed to change an odometer reading or brand


Odometer Fraud: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)



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