A report published this week by the Office of Fair Trading in the UK indicates that Car Clocking - the practice of deliberately interfering with a vehicle's odometer so that a lower mileage is displayed - "remains a persistent and damaging consumer crime".
The study was launched in May 2009 following a record number of consumer complaints regarding the second hand car market. Covering the whole of the UK the study focussed on sales by registered dealers rather than private sales, but the OFT hopes that its findings will provide clarity across the wider second-hand car market.
The OFT estimate the potential loss to UK consumers from the purchase of vehicles with false mileage to be up to £580 million a year. That's against a national fleet of 32million cars. Applying the same ratio to the Irish fleet means the cost here could be up to €40 million.
Outlaw 'Mileage Correction' Services
One significant area the report focussed on was 'Car Clocking'. Describing the practice as a "persistent and damaging consumer crime" the OFT identified over 50 businesesses in the UK openly offering "mileage correction services" despite the very small number of occasions where there may be a legitimate reason to correct a car's odometer reading.
The report states "We have a strong suspicion that many of these companies adjust mileages for illegitimate reasons" and goes on to call for the introduction of legislation to outlaw mileage correction/alteration services and their advertising.
The Importance Of Data Sharing
The OFT strongly recommends that mileage readings be shared with vehicle check companies. It calls for the sharing of mileage data recorded at the point of an MOT Test and recommends mandatory mileage readings be supplied by vehicle owners to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) each time a vehicle's particulars are amended.
Serious Irish Problem
Car Clocking continues to be a serious problem in Ireland and it appears that UK vehicles are responsible for more than their fair share. A quick look at our March statistics shows that 39% of cars where a mileage discrepancy exists are currently, or have previously, been registered in the UK.
Motorcheck's national mileage register has in excess of 1.4 million odometer readings we believe there are a number of ways the detection rate could be substantially increased.
- NCT Readings - The Department of Transport could share the 8million+ mileage readings recorded on the NCT database.
- Change of Ownership Readings - Most dealers use the Revenue's Online Service (ROS) to transfer ownership of a car. This form allows for an odometer reading to be entered along with the new owner's details. Hundreds of thousands of used cars pass through Irish dealers forecourts every year and these mileage readings would assist in combatting clocking.
- MotorTax Online - The current system as operated by the Department of Transport at Motortax.ie asks users to input their insurance certificate number when renewing road tax. A similar input for the cars odometer reading could be introduced and provide another valuable record for the cars odometer history.
- VRT Readings - Revenue also record the odometer reading every time an imported second-hand vehicle is registered for the first time in Ireland. If these readings were available our mileage register could compare the records against the 100+ million readings available in our UK database and identify potentially clocked cars before they're sold on to an unsuspecting buyer.
Help Motorcheck combat clocking
If you'd like to assist Motorcheck with our battle against the car clockers, you can do so by entering the odometer reading for your car by clicking on this link or the button below. It's free and could help prevent someone from clocking your car in future.
For further advice on how to avoid buying a clocked car you can visit a previous post here.