When you back up your car, does you odometer go backwards?

Just wondering cause I saw that commercial of the guy backing up for miles in order to reduce the milage on his car. Would that work? Btw didn’t it use to be called a speedometer?

No, it wont, or at least it shouldn’t unless it is either broken or about 60 years old.

The Speedometer is the guage that tells you how fast your going (the needle that says your going 60) The odometer tells you how far you’ve gone.


I hate to state the obvious, but next time you back up, watch the odometer.

For the experiment to be relevent he would have to find a sufficiently old car. The electronic odometers in modern cars obviously don’t turn back.

I seem to remember the dial running backwards backing up on older cars - I think I remember my father pointing this out to me on the family car, which would have been a 60’s Chevy.

Yes, it most certainly does in all of my cars. And I just tested this this morning in my latest car in a parking lot. Although if it is an electronic odometer, it might not.

From the darkcool school of driving:

So what insurance group are you in ?


Mine does but it’s an older car. Maybe newer cars don’t?

The obvious: you would turn mine back not by doing 50,000 miles in reverse but by disconnecting it and turning it back with a little motor.

Our 94 Ford turns back, but our 2000 Maxima doesn’t. The difference: The Maxima has an electronic odometer. I think all cars that don’t will turn back.

I had to LOL at myself on that one! I obviously meant :
Next time you have the need to back up take note of your odo, then when,after having taken all the nec. safety precautions WHILE backing up, you are finished backing up note the new odo reading.


Hate to pick nits but wouldn’t one have to back up at least a tenth of a mile for the odometer to show a difference? And who here has backed their car up a tenth of a mile or more lately?

With the old mechanical odometers, you can observe the “tenth” dial turning backwards by backing up less than a tenth of a mile.

It was my understanding that the odometer/speedometer mechanism was connected to the drive mode (forward only) in the transmission. This obviously would not operate in reverse.

Mine’s connected to the output shaft at the rear of the transfer case ('84 Jeep). I’ve never bothered to see if it works in reverse, but I will now. :wink:

Just be sure and drive it, or if you do put it up on jackstands, don’t do it at the edge of a dropoff…“You killed the car!”

Sure does on those with a needle aha. Used to be you could put a motor on it & back the odometer up before you sell it now its easier to just have someone ummmdo it for ya with some tools.

I just recalled that my uncle, before selling one of his cars , used to disconect the speedo cable and hook it (somehow) to an electric drill and let it run in reverse for a while to turn back the miles, so at least on some cars it would work.

My first simo post!

That’s the one thing that bugged me about “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. They jack up the car and put it in reverse to take off the miles. While the odometer probably would’ve got backwards, they were rotating the wrong wheels. The odometer would’ve been connected to the front wheels.

Also, once they got it started, wouldn’t you have thought they watch to see it work, rather than go lounge by the pool. (Granted, Cameron was still catatonic.)

I would’ve done what my sister did to try to hide unwanted miles: disconnect the odometer cable. This was easy enough in 60’s model cars.

Funny story about this: My sister wanted to go somewhere out of town one weekend when she was a teenager, but we had some family outing. She made some excuse to stay home, so the rest of us left without her. Her friend and her then disconnected the odometer on her Corvair, waited a time (so that we’d be off the same highway that she was leaving town on), then left. What she didn’t count on was that we took longer to leave than expected.

We got on the interstate just about 1 minute before her. And without her odometer connected, her speedometer didn’t work either. She usually passed people, and didn’t think much about passing the slow-moving Galaxy 500 station wagon. What she didn’t realize was 1) that was my dad’s new car, which I guess she didn’t recognize, and 2) he wasn’t going all that slow, probably about 70 mph (110 kg/liter). This meant she was probably going 100 mph (160 kg/liter). Well, my dad instantly recognize the Corvair zooming by, and punched it to catch up to her and pull her over. I had to stay in the car and miss the juicy details, but he cursed her out good. :D:D

>> It was my understanding that the odometer/speedometer mechanism was connected to the drive mode (forward only) in the transmission.

dougie_monty, can you explain that? it makes no sense to me. Drive mode (forward only)??

With mechanical odometers the transmission turns a little cable which turns in one direction forward and in reverse direction when backing. IF the odometer does not turn back when backing it is because the odometer itself has some mechanical design for this. As I said, all the mechanical odometers I have seen will turn back.

It could well be that electronic odometers will count forward wheteher the car is moving ahead or astern.

I backed a lot of miles off of a 1954 Chevrolet because my father was a prick. I think the most I ever backed off at one time was “about” five miles.

I also used to disconnect the speedometer cable but I once forgot to reconnect it and couldn’t use the car for a couple of months.

AWB said,

Why do you think this? Volkswagens used to drive the speedometer and odometer off of the left front wheel but I don’t remember any other car that did.