Car clocking is on the rise in the UK among used cars
The Local Government Association are urging for there to be a ban on mileage correction services and devices.
The reason for this is due to a rise in ‘clocking’ which is putting motorists at greater risk of buying dangerous used cars with false mileage.
Latest figures have shown that clocking increased by 25 per cent between 2014 and 2016 and costs UK motorists £800 million annually.
Clocking refers to the process of artificially altering a car’s mileage to increase its value.
One recent council prosecution saw a van sold with 89,000 miles on the clock was actually found to have travelled more than 243,000 miles.
Another council prosecution, the mileage differences on 10 clocked vehicles added together were the equivalent of travelling to the moon.
According to the research, one in 16 vehicles checked now have a mileage discrepancy which means that there could be as many as 2.3 million clocked and potentially dangerous cars on the roads.
Rogue dealers and private sellers can knock tens of thousands of miles of cars using mileage correction devices to make them more appealing and desirable.
Cars with lower mileage are more value and can be sold for more money
Lower mileage cars are more valuable than higher mile cars but these dodgy practices are skewing these results.
Clocking mileage an increase the value of an average second-hand family car by up to £4,000.
What this means is an innocent motorist will fork out thousands more for a car that is worn more than they thought and therefore could be less safe and more dangerous.
The crime is not only fleecing drivers out of cash but it could also hide serious mechanical problems on cars which could lead to hefty repair bills or make them more at risk of an accident.
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is urging people to check a vehicle’s history thoroughly before buying it to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
A proposed EU ban on companies providing mileage correction services was supposed to be in place by May 2018. The LGA is calling for this legislation to be implemented as soon as possible and retained under UK laws after Brexit.
An existing legal loophole means that while knowingly selling a clocked car without disclosing it is fraud, it is not illegal to alter the odometer’s mileage.
The LGA is calling for DIY mileage correction tools – widely available for sale online from about £100 – to be banned to help reduce clocking.
Motorists should check a car’s documents with the DVLA before purchasing
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Car clocking is a rising major fraud which not only rips off motorists but can have dangerous implications.
“Unscrupulous dealers are tricking unsuspecting buyers into paying thousands of pounds more for a vehicle with false mileage, which could put their safety at risk and lead to expensive repair bills if it is in a poorer condition than has been suggested.
“Anyone buying a second-hand car should make thorough checks to ensure that the vehicle is showing its true mileage and that its service history and MOT certificate are accurate.
“Clocking is tarnishing the reputation of honest used car dealers and sellers, and councils won’t hesitate to bring any car dealer or private seller to justice who shows a blatant disregard for safety and consumer rights.
“Trading Standards teams across the country often receive more complaints about used cars than anything else.
“This is why the proposed EU ban on mileage correction services needs to be made part of UK law as soon as possible, otherwise thousands more cars will continue to be clocked, jeopardising the safety of cars and passengers on UK roads.
“The sale of cheap mileage correction software also needs to be banned as this can only be fuelling the big rise in clocking and illegal profits.”
Any dodgy dealer that is caught committing insurance fraud will face some hefty punishments.
One example of this is a car dealer was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to pay a total of £130,000 in compensation and court costs after selling 10 vehicles with false mileage and manufacturing fraudulent service histories following a prosecution by Stockport Council.
The mileage differences in the vehicles in question were the equivalent of travelling to the moon.
One of the vehicles for sale in question, a high-end Range Rover, showed 77,000 miles when inspected by officers, whereas the true mileage was at 131,000 miles.
ADVICE ON HOW TO AVOID BUYING A CLOCKED CAR
·Check with the DVLA for previous MOTs that show the car’s mileage.
·Check the service history of the car to see if it tallies with the claimed mileage for each year – check that it goes up steadily and that it doesn’t suddenly drop.
·Check the steering wheel, driver’s seat and pedals for wear that is disproportionate to the claimed mileage as a sign of a clocked car.
·When collecting the car, check it shows the same mileage as when first viewed. It’s not unknown for the mileage to be reduced for a viewing, then to go back up once the car is being collected.