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Turning back the years will only end in tears

Clocking – otherwise known as illegitimately adjusting a vehicle’s mileage for financial gain – has been practised by unscrupulous car sellers for many years, however buying a clocked car could do more than damage your wallet according to vehicle information expert HPI.

Nicola Johnson, consumer services manager comments: “Clocking is used by fraudsters to boost the sale price of a vehicle, but the act of clocking also hides the fact that the car is likely to have done considerably more miles than the driver realises. If vital components are excessively worn and/or not replaced as recommended by the manufacturer, that vehicle could be a real danger to the driver and other road users.”

But HPI’s concerns are echoed by an independent vehicle inspection company, whose inspections manager adds: “Vehicles displaying untrue mileages carry an increased risk of costly defects being present. With use comes wear, and therefore higher mileages are a likely indication of when maintenance costs could start to rise. Despite some obvious tell-tale signs of general wear and tear, a higher mileage vehicle may look in reasonable condition; however, behind the bodywork there may be some less obvious wear that isn’t reflected by the reported mileage. An incorrectly reported mileage could also lead a new owner into believing that their scheduled maintenance is up-to-date, missing out on vital service work such as a timing belt change that may lead to catastrophic engine failure.”

A comprehensive vehicle inspection offers used car buyers a thorough vehicle examination that will help highlight unexplained gaps or leaps in maintenance records, a potential sign of clocking or a hidden history. But whilst it cannot authenticate recorded vehicle mileages, it does provide used car buyers with an independent condition report on vehicle performance, reliability and safety, offering added peace of mind and protection against the threat of clocking. Prices for these inspections usually start from around £150 but we have seen them reach almost £400.

HPI are campaigning to hit back against mileage correction firms with the launch of their DirectGov e-Petition, following an estimation from the Office of Fair Trading who calculate that there are over 70 mileage correction firms currently operating in Britain by exploiting a legal loophole. John Leech, MP adds: “I find it astonishing that tampering with a car in this way is not actually illegal. This practice is said to cost Greater Manchester’s motorists an estimated £22m per year, and nationally car clocking costs consumers up to £580m a year according to the Office of Fair Trading. I have long argued that this should be made illegal having previously raised this with Government Ministers and called on the Transport Select Committee to hold an enquiry into this immoral practice.”

Johnson concludes, “The dangers associated with a vehicle that has done considerably more miles than the owner realises are all too clear. And even if these issues are identified in time to prevent danger, the cost of servicing the car to bring it up to a maintainable standard could run into the thousands. However, a mileage and vehicle history check, as well as a full vehicle inspection can help protect consumers from buying a vehicle that’s hiding its true age behind a low mileage and a bargain price tag.”

So to recap – a clocked mileage could be concealing a hidden past, cost motorists thousands of pounds in unexpected repair bills and servicing costs, and disguise potentially unsafe components which could put you and other road users at risk. We recommend having a complete provenance check and comprehensive vehicle inspection carried out before you sign on the dotted line, as it could just save you a fortune in the long run. Of course if you visit your Safe and Sound car dealership, they will automatically include these two items, plus five other significant elements, absolutely free of charge (worth over £500 in total) when you purchase a vehicle from them. To find your nearest, simply click here.

Registered office: The WMS Group Ltd,
Oxford House, Oxford Road, Thame, Oxon OX9 2AH
01844 293 810