September 15, 2022
Mr. Alan Aprea
Electronics Center of Excellence & Expertise
U.S. Customs and Border Protection JFK Airport Building 77
New York City, NY 11430
Dear Mr. Aprea:
I understand that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is working to identify and stop the importation of devices that are used in motor vehicles to prevent or partially prevent the vehicle’s odometer from accumulating mileage. Such devices may be used to slow or stop the accumulation of mileage shown on the odometer of leased vehicles, or to otherwise engage in odometer fraud.
To assist with your work, I am enclosing an interpretation issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on this issue. As you are aware, NHTSA enforces the provisions of Chapter 327 of title 49 of the United States Code, which has the purposes of “prohibit[ing] tampering with motor vehice odometers” and “provid[ing] safeguards to protect purchasers in the sale of motor vehicles with altered or reset odometers,” 49 U.S.C. § 32701(b). Pursuant to that authority, NHTSA explained in its interpretation:
It is unlawful for a person to “advertise for sale, sell, use, install, or have installed, a device that makes an odometer of a motor vehicle register a mileage different from the mileage the vehicle was driven, as registered by the odometer within the designed tolerance of the manufacturer of the odometer.” 49 U.S.C. § 32703(1). A person also may not “disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered, an odometer of a motor vehicle intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer.” Id. § 32703(2). In addition, it is illegal for a person, “with intent to defraud, [to] operate a motor vehicle on a street, road, or highway if the person knows that the odometer of the vehicle is disconnected or not operating.” Id. § 32703(3).
The marketing for sale, sale, or use of an electronic device that slows or stops a motor vehicle’s odometer from registering mileage driven violates 49 U.S.C. § 32703. NHTSA is aware of no legitimate use for such a device.
January 12, 2021 interpretation (footnote omitted).
We appreciate CBP’s efforts to detect and prevent the importation of these devices that cannot lawfully be sold, used, or installed in the United States. Such devices, which may result in a consumer being unaware of a vehicle’s actual mileage, may pose serious safety consequences, in addition to economic and commercial harm. If you need further assistance, please contact Dan Rabinovitz at 202-366-8534 or via email at Daniel.Rabinovitz@dot.gov.
Deputy Chief Counsel
Ref: 49 U.S.C Sec. 32703