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Fort Myers car dealer busted for fudging odometer

Posted at 10:06 PM, Aug 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-24 23:20:33-04

The manager at a small used car dealership was arrested Thursday, accused of rolling back the odometers of 22 cars in his lot.

Lee County deputies arrested Miguel Preciado-Valadez after interviewing employees and checking records at PG Auto Sales off Palm Beach Boulevard.

Investigators say Preciado-Valadez rolled back the odometers on cars anywhere from 50 to 80,000 miles per vehicle.

Vehicles affected range in model years from 2003 to 2008.

"They got the tumbler, a lot of times they can open it.  But a lot of times you can detect that because once you take the tumbler a part the numbers never line up," said Vernal Alvarez, owner of Blast Auto Service in Cape Coral.

He says most vehicles made after 2007 have digital odometers, which can be altered by using special computer software.

"For the average customer, it would be very hard just looking at the car and detecting if it was altered."

Alvarez says prospective car buyers should request maintenance records on used vehicles, and pay special attention to how many miles the car had between when it was last serviced and when you saw it on the lot.

Also have a mechanic from outside the dealership inspect the car.

"We do a free inspection of the vehicle, we have inspection sheets and we write down everything," said Alvarez.

He says even a thorough inspection may not detect every flaw in a vehicle.   You should buy a car from a larger dealership if you have any concerns.

Valadez bonded out of the Lee County Jail Friday. If convicted he faces up to 5 years in prison.