UK Used Cars with Altered Mileage: The Facts About Car Clocking
Millions of used cars in the UK are suspected to have had their mileage changed, a practice known as “car clocking.” The process involves winding back the car’s odometer to show a lower mileage than it has actually covered. While this was once the domain of shady car sellers and garages, today there are openly operating “mileage correction” companies in the UK.
The equipment needed to clock a car is readily available and the process of correcting the mileage is relatively simple. It is estimated that up to 2.5 million cars in the UK could have had their mileage changed, posing a threat to used car buyers.
The law surrounding car clocking and mileage correction creates a grey area, as it is legal to alter the mileage but illegal to sell the car without disclosing the discrepancy to the buyer. People can be prosecuted under the Consumer Rights Act if it is proven that they clocked the car for financial gain. The 2006 Fraud Act also protects buyers, as altering goods or services for financial gain is considered a crime, and can apply to both traders and private sellers.
The European Parliament has announced a directive that would ban the practice of winding back the mileage of vehicles. However, with the UK leaving the EU, it remains unclear if similar measures will be put in place in UK law.
Why is car clocking on the rise? The increasing popularity of car finance, such as Personal Contract Purchases and Personal Contract Hire deals, which come with strict mileage limits, has led to some owners turning to mileage correction firms to dodge financial penalties. The rise of digital odometers has also made the practice easier, leading to the establishment of companies offering to alter the mileage if the read-out becomes corrupted. Additionally, some individuals may manipulate the mileage to receive extra payouts from authorized mileage allowance schemes.
Are there legitimate reasons for mileage correction? Legitimate reasons for mileage correction are limited and usually involve repairing a broken odometer at a dealership, with proper documentation. However, mileage correction companies often perform the work with little or no paperwork.
The downsides of car clocking include the legal implications and potential issues with a car’s performance and maintenance. Clocking a car only modifies the read-out and can lead to inaccurate information about when to service the car and replace parts. Additionally, the lack of documentation from mileage correction companies can make it difficult to determine the true history and condition of the vehicle.