Car clocking warning as mileage cheating hits an all-time high

By Matt Allan
Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th April 2020, 10:39 am

Almost a tenth of all used cars are displaying an incorrect mileage, raising fears that drivers are being ripped off and put in danger by dodgy sellers.

Figures from vehicle data specialists HPI show that there has been a 45 per cent increase in mileage discrepancies in the last five years, with a more than 20 per cent jump in the last year alone.

The results have sparked concerns that a growing number of motorists are being fooled into paying over the odds for “clocked” cars which not only have covered more miles than claimed but may also be hiding more serious issues.

The figures come from the company’s HPI Check, which provides vehicle history to buyers and sellers. The checks show that in 2019 836,214 vehicles were flagged as having a mileage discrepancy - 8.99 per cent of all vehicles checked.

That is a 22 per cent increase over 2018 and the highest proportion the motoring industry has ever seen.

Avoiding penalties

Clocking was historically carried out to hide a car’s true mileage in order to push up its value. However, HPI's experts have said that the growth in PCP deals in the new car market has also contributed to an upsurge as drivers try to avoid paying extra charges for exceeding their mileage allowance.

They also revealed that one in three cars with a mileage discrepancy also has some other hidden problem, including outstanding finance, having been previously written off or recorded as stolen.

Such issues can affect a car’s value, its roadworthiness and even put ownership at risk if a driver unwittingly buys a stolen car.

Fernando Garcia, consumer director at cap hpi commented: “When conducting a mileage check, we will identify any mileage discrepancies through both our own National Mileage Register and the car’s MOT history. If a car has been clocked or had its odometer tampered with, then the mileage reading will appear to have decreased, which is a false reading.

“A vehicle’s mileage is closely linked to its value. These false readings often correlate to mechanical issues and faults later down the line, which could have safety implications, or lead to hefty repair bills.

“All the safety features and modules in a modern car, such as airbags, ABS and ignition, feed information into the vehicle's central computer system. Each time an issue arises, such as a fault warning, – a ‘snapshot’ of the vehicle’s mileage will be logged. Unless a vehicle’s mileage is wound back by a particularly diligent clocker who knows to alter the mileage readings on all modules as well as the odometer, these will be out of sync. This will lead to issues with safety warnings – making it potentially very dangerous for the driver, passenger and other road users.”with, then the mileage reading will appear to have decreased which is a false reading.