Variations in Odometer Readings

Ever notice the odometer reading in your vehicle differs from the distance calculated by an online mapping provider? The answer is simple: although vehicle odometer readings are close to the actual mileage traveled, they are not precise.

Surprisingly, there is no federal law that regulates odometer accuracy. The Society of Automotive Engineers set guidelines that allow for a margin of error of plus or minus four percent. But that’s it. A FOX19 report on odometer readings found that four vehicles of different makes all registered inaccurate readings. Some readings overshot the mileage driven, while others under reported the mileage driven. Even a variance of twenty feet per mile driven could result in a discrepancy of over five-hundred miles over the vehicle’s lifetime.

How do I prevent this?

Always keep your tires inflated, check your tire tread, and follow regular maintenance for your vehicle. Aftermarket modifications such as custom wheels can also have an effect on the calculated distance.

However, there is no way to ensure that your car’s odometer reading is one hundred percent accurate without spending a lot of money on installing a module in your car. We recommend you keep an eye on your odometer reading and use it as a close, but not precise, look at your driving history.

How does this affect my reimbursement?

For those who use GPS signals to pin-point their location throughout the day, the distance traveled is computed through our mapping provider. This distance appears in your Motus mileage log and is what your monthly reimbursement is based on.

In the end, there can be a small variance between the mileage recorded on your vehicle’s odometer reading and the route distance calculated through mapping software. While both methods aren’t one hundred percent accurate, they should be relatively similar. If you do have concerns, cross reference your vehicle readings with your app readings as well as an external source like MapQuest or Google Maps. If you feel you have taken all of these steps and still see a discrepancy, please contact us!

The Author

Danielle Lackey

As Chief Legal Officer, Danielle is responsible for all Motus legal affairs and works with strategic business units to drive initiatives that bolster IRS and legal compliance for Motus clients. Prior to joining Motus, Danielle co-founded and served as CEO of Cadence Counsel, a company that helps law firms and companies thrive in an environment where work, as we know it, is rapidly changing. Before founding Cadence Counsel, Danielle practiced as a litigator at Latham & Watkins, representing major corporations and senior executives in complex civil and criminal matters. She earned her J.D. with Distinction from Stanford Law School and is a graduate of Brown University (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude).

Read more by Danielle Lackey

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