Car clocking is on the rise – here’s how to protect yourself

Car clocking is on the rise – here’s how to protect yourself
Car clocking is on the rise – here’s how to protect yourself

Used car buyers are more likely than ever to be caught out by a car with doctored mileage, according to new data.

The number of cars that have been “clocked” has risen by 30 per cent in the last five years, with an estimated one in 14 now showing an inaccurate mileage.

According to vehicle data specialists Cap HPI which produced the data, the practice is costing motorists more than £800 million a year as they pay over the odds for second-hand cars.


The HPI figures reflect findings from another vehicle data service – Rapid Car Check which has launched a free service to verify vehicles’ mileage.

Its service, which uses MOT data, found that almost 6.5 per cent of cars checked had a mileage discrepancy – equivalent to 2.47 million cars.

Winding back a car’s mileage helps dodgy sellers charge more than vehicle’s true value. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Services such as the Rapid Car Check one and full vehicle history checks offer a simple way to compare a seller’s claims with official records for a car and are recommended for anyone considering a used car.

Although it is not illegal to adjust a car’s odometer, it is illegal to sell a clocked car without declaring its genuine mileage.

The practice has long been a problem in the used car industry with unscrupulous sellers trying to make cars more attractive by lowering their mileage. However, HPI’s head of industry relations Barry Shorto said that the recent rise could also be linked to the growth of PCP finance deals which come with strict mileage limits.

Methods have changed but the aim of car clocking remains to con buyers. (Picture: Shutterstock)

He commented: “Clocking and mileage fraud is a problem that refuses to go away and continues to get worse.

“The continued development of technologies to alter digital odometers, easy access to this technology via the internet and similarly, the ease of access to mileage adjustment services online, some of whom will behave legitimately, others less so, are all exacerbating the trend.

“The increase in mileage-related finance arrangements such as PCP and PCH may also be a contributing factor as motorists look to avoid costly penalties for exceeding mileage allowances.”

Read more: The most and least reliable used cars named

Safety risks

Mr Shorto added that as well as costing buyers and dealer thousands of pounds on the value of a car, clocking could leave motorists exposed to unforseen dangers.

He said: “It can be almost impossible to tell a clocked vehicle just by looking at it, which makes a vehicle history check an even more vital form of protection for buyers.

“A clocked vehicle could be hiding serious levels of wear and tear, especially if it has been previously used as a high mileage private hire vehicle for a couple of years, meaning the additional cost of unexpected repairs or even a potentially serious safety threat to driver, passengers and other road users.”

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