Dishonest drivers turn back the clock

Dishonest drivers turn back the clock

Motorists are being warned that "clocking" is making an unwelcome comeback in the world of used car selling.

Clocking is the practice in which dishonest sellers tamper with their odometer to show a misleading, lower mileage than the car has actually undertaken.

Drivers, dealers and vehicle auctions buying a car from the second-hand market are increasingly falling prey to this fraudulent practice, Glass's reported. But the motor trade data firm said that this time, the clocks are being turned back by drivers instead of dealers.

The RAC has called for steps to be taken against firms openly offering to clock cars, in a bid to stamp out the crime for good. It reminds buyers to acquire full history records on any second-hand cars they are purchasing.

Pete Williams, spokesman for RAC Cars , said: "While there are fewer cars on the road these days that feature mechanical, rather than digital milometers, it is a sad fact that the practice of clocking has never really gone away - and this insight suggests it could in fact be on the rise.

"People are taking out Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) finance and stating that they don't plan to do as many miles as they actually end up doing, and then getting the milometer manually corrected - by committing to driving fewer miles in a finance agreement, the monthly PCP payments can fall.

"But despite the increasingly popularity of PCP, the bigger issue here concerns the private used car market."

Glass said that motorists are hiring mileage alteration firms, using specialist apparatus to alter their odometer displays. These deceptions typically involve motors under three years of age - so they usually only have a single service stamp and don't have an MOT certificate.

This way, the car's paper trail fails to reveal mileage alterations. But there can be tell-tale signs for the discerning driver who knows how to spot a clocked car .

Glass's valuations head Rupert Pontin said such crimes can be exposed when cars get plugged into diagnostic rigs. But it can be very difficult to ascertain the date of put-back mileages, he added.

Dealers and car auctions have reported many instances in the past few months. Dealer clocking, however, has all but become extinct due to the heavy penalties involved.

Pete Williams adds: "When you consider that mileage is one of the main factors that contribute to the value of a second-hand car, some unscrupulous sellers are clocking cars to keep the resale value artificially high.

"Given it's unlikely the buyer can know if a car has been clocked or not, it is sound advice to get a full history check on the vehicle and ensure it is regularly serviced.

"Action needs to be taken on companies actively offering clocking services so this practice is stamped out once and for all."

Copyright Press Association 2015