The number of cars with a mileage discrepancy – where the odometer reading does not match documents such as an MOT – is on the rise, according to vehicle history experts HPI.
The three per cent increase in the number of cars with mileage discrepancies in 2013, suggests a rise in the number of unscrupulous sellers altering a car’s mileage in an attempt to falsely increase its value.
Vehicle ‘clocking’ as the practice is known, has been prevalent for a number of years, but has been made easier with the advent of digital dashboards, which eliminate the need to physically remove an odometer to tamper with it.
This has been backed up by a rise in the number of ‘mileage correction’ companies, which will alter a vehicle’s mileage with no questions asked – often under the guise of returning faulty odometers to their ‘true’ readings.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimates that there could be as many as 486,000 vehicles with a false mileage currently on the roads of the UK.
Shane Teskey, Senior Consumer Services Manager at HPI, said: “These are really shocking statistics and represent a worrying trend. Dodgy sellers will take advantage of any angle they can when offloading a car and clocking is one of the easiest ways they can make a fatter profit. In fact, research we conducted last year found that popular models such the VW Golf can double in value if they have 60,000 miles wound down.
“But it’s not just an issue of money with clocked cars, there is also a safety concern. Any vehicle that has done a lot more miles than the owner realises could have components that have been excessively worn, even if it looks okay to the naked eye. Plus these cars are likely to have missed out on their scheduled servicing, meaning a mechanic missing vital signs of wear and tear.”
Those looking to purchase a second hand vehicle are urged to take out a thorough vehicle provenance check, which will not only give a mileage check against the National Mileage Register, but will also inform you if a car has previously been stolen or written off.
Teskey continues: “While the rise in mileage discrepancies we’ve seen is a worry, consumers can help stop the clockers by simply being more aware and conducting the appropriate checks before purchasing a used vehicle. This is one of the oldest cons in the book, simply because it is so easy to do and is so profitable, but by the same token it is easy for consumers to be vigilant and conduct a history check. If they do so we can stop dodgy sellers making a fast profit duping buyers.”