The practice of car clocking, also known as odometer fraud, is when someone adjusts the mileage reading on a vehicle. This is done to make the car appear as though it has covered less miles then it actually has in truth.
The motivation behind car clocking is that the value of used cars is partly determined by how many miles they’ve covered. The fewer miles a car has covered, the less the value has depreciated and the bigger the price it can be sold for.
It is illegal for someone to clock a car and then sell it (without informing the buyer about the adjustment), since the seller could make more money than the car is actually worth. Nevertheless the practice has been around in Britain for a while now.
The vehicle history checkers, HPI Check, have now reported that in recent years there appeared to be a drop in the number of mileage discrepancies uncovered by consumer checks. However, based on used car sales figures for 2013, HPI estimates there could be as many as 486,000 vehicles with a false mileage on the road in the UK.
The Senior Consumer Services Manager, Shane Teskey, commented: "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.
"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."
Teskey concludes: "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 consumer to be vigilant and conduct a history check."
To avoid buying what could potentially be a clocked car; motorists are best buying used models from a reputable dealership, such as Perrys, where each vehicle is given a full history check.