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What Are ‘Clocked Vehicles’? & How to Avoid Getting Scammed

A clocked vehicle is one in which, by accident or design, the milometer has been physically wound back or the display has been reprogrammed to show a lower mileage.

Occasionally, accidental clocking may occur as the result of repairing or replacing a dashboard or instrument(s) on the dashboard, but often clocking is found to be a deliberate fraudulent attempt to artificially inflate the book value of a vehicle.

Illegal Odometre Clocking

The book value is based on the make, model, year, and comparable mileage, so any vehicle with lower mileage is worth paying more money for, in the eyes of a prospective buyer.

According to research conducted by Rapid Car Check, 443,061 (6.32%) of the seven million vehicles subjected to mileage check were found to have inaccurate mileage readings.

If that percentage is reflected by the entire vehicle population of the UK, as many as 2.5 million cars and vans may have been subject to clocking in one form or another.

The Citroen Dispatch fared worst in the model clocking stakes with 29.89% of vehicles tested found to be clocked, followed by the Renault Scenic which had 29.61% and the Peugeot Expert followed with 28.63%.

Of course, it is not just consumers who can fall victim to clocked vehicles. According to Cap HPI, 40% of motor traders have bought a second-hand vehicle only to discover later that it had been clocked.

Despite repeated calls from the Local Government Association (LGA) to ban so-called ‘mileage correction’ tools in line with proposed European Union (EU) legislation, many of these tools are cheap and readily available to buy on the Internet.

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Councillor Simon Blackburn said, ‘Trading Standards teams across the country often receive more complaints about used cars than anything else”.

Consequently, anyone working in the motor trade remains potentially vulnerable to buying a clocked vehicle from anyone. Indeed, many in the motor trade industry believe that it is dishonest vehicle owners rather than dishonest traders who provide the impetus for clocking vehicles.

Clocking a vehicle is not illegal but selling a clocked vehicle without making known any mileage discrepancy is, and any motor trade insurance policy holders may find that their insurance policy is adversely affected if a buyer makes an insurance claim against them.

Minimising overheads in the motor industry is important now more than ever, variable costs like motor trade insurance, garage insurance, employers public and product liability insurance amongst other expenses is a major concern, so any unnecessary expenditure is something the whole trade can do without.

If you are in the market for a second-hand car, a vehicle history check conducted by a reputable provider can reveal any ‘hidden’ history of a prospective purchase, not only clocking issues, but any crash damage, outstanding finance and much more.

Vehicle paperwork like MOT certificates and service history should also indicate whether the total mileage is accurate, but do not hesitate to double check with any service providers if you are in any doubt.

Inspect vehicles for unusual wear-and-tear to frequently used components, including the steering wheel, pedals, and upholstery, and take a thorough test drive.

Legally, if there is any evidence that the mileage of a vehicle is incorrect, a mileage disclaimer or a sticker on the odometer and/or in the sales documentation; must be applied by a motor trade dealer selling a vehicle.

Any business found clocking a vehicle and subsequently disclaims the mileage is offered no legal protection whatsoever.