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Clocking is returning to used car market

Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 14:34
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Except this time it is drivers rather than dealers dialling down mileage

Clocking is becoming a genuine issue in the used car sector for the first time in decades, reports motor trade bible Glass’s – but this time it is motorists rather than dealers who are illegally reducing mileage.

The practice is occurring where drivers exceed the contracted number of miles on fixed mileage leases, such as a PCP, and want to avoid an excess mileage penalty charge on returning the car, which can run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Drivers are increasingly turning to mileage adjustment companies who use specialist equipment to artificially reduce the number of miles showing on the odometer. Because most of the vehicles involved have been supplied new and are less than three years old, there is no MOT certificate and often only one service stamp, so the paper trail doesn’t reveal that the mileage has been altered.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations at Glass’s, said: “Some drivers facing a PCP returns charge may consider clocking as an easy way of avoiding payment but their actions are illegal.

“The issue tends to come to light when the car is prepared for sale either by the original dealer or another who has subsequently bought the car, probably at auction. When they plug the vehicle into their diagnostic rig as part of their standard vehicle preparation procedure and, depending on the model, an error code will show what has occurred.”

Glass’s had come across several cases of this type in recent months being reported by both dealers and motor auctions and although it is very difficult to say how widespread this practice might be but they are certainly seeing an increasing amount of industry ‘chatter’ about the subject.

There was no easy answer to the problem, although closer regulation of mileage adjustment companies was one potential route.

Mileage adjustment of electronic odometers exists for all kinds of good and perfectly legal reasons, such as to correct the reading on a car that has had its dashboard replaced or where the odometer has failed. However, there do appear to be at least a few who will reduce your mileage without asking many questions.

Rupert concluded that clocking by dealers – once considered prevalent in the motor trade – had effectively become almost unknown in the 21st century because of the strict penalties that existed.

He said; “We have come across very, very few cases of dealer clocking in recent years and, in essence, the practice had almost died out until now – but it does certainly appear to be back.”

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