Car clocking was finally criminalised in Ireland when the amendment to the Road Traffic Bill proposed in January was enacted into legislation at the end of February. The practice of clocking a car is not only a dishonest, and now a criminal, practice but it can also endanger the safety of road users. This is because clocking a car will very often result in not only interfering with the odometer of the vehicle via the on board computer, but also with some of the safety features such as warning lights. During various physical investigations into clocked vehicles we have encountered vehicles with power steering warning indicators or brake warning indicators which have been disabled.
Minister Leo Varadkar and his Department are to be commended in taking another step towards making our roads safer and criminalising clocking. Unfortunately clocking has become commonplace in Ireland and in recent years the incidence of clocking has accelerated according to regular market sampling conducted by Motorcheck.ie. This may be explained by a number of factors, namely:
- The harsh economic environment which has existed over the past 6 years
- The lack of good quality used car stock coming into the market due to the downturn in new car sales in previous years
- The technical ease at which a modern vehicle can be clocked
- The proliferation of "Mileage Calibration" services
- The lack of repercussions for the perpetrators
At time of going to press we have not seen any change in the occurrence of clocking. At Motorcheck.ie we perform regular market sampling on car clocking and in recent times our samples have hovered between 15-20% of all vehicles sampled showing a discrepancy against previous odometer readings. Sadly our most recent sample in May of this year does not show any improvement.
We, and others in the industry are confident that the recent legislative changes will help discourage the practice of car clocking. However two further things need to happen for this legislation to have a real effect on the ground, ie:
- Criminal prosecutions must be brought against those involved in clocking to set an example for anyone who may considering this as a means of making a quick buck
- The tools for proper checking of previous mileages must be made available to the public and the trade. Currently it falls to Motorcheck,ie and others in our industry to gather mileage readings independently and make them available to the trade and public alike. The Government should now ensure that NCT readings are also now released to third parties for this purpose.
I recently spoke to Pat Kenny on Newstalk 106 radio about some of these issues. Click below to listen...