Car clocking seems to be on the rise again and not just from spurious car dealers. With the rise and rise of PCP’s and the fact that p[payments and GFV’s (guaranteed future values) are linked, to a certain extent, to the mileage the buyer sates they will do, the penalties for exceeding that total mileage can be a massive problem for some drivers.
For example if you have stated that you will do 8,000 miles per annum over a 3 year period, your penalty for exceeding that is 10p per mile and you ended up doing 12,000 you are going to have to find an extra £400 from somewhere.
Unfortunately in these chastened times there are many companies who will ‘correct’ the mileage in order that the driver can avoid the penalty and thus protect the residual value.
Of course this is not being widely reported at present and car dealers are very careful in ensuring that the used cars they have for sale are mileage checked against service records etc, however with variable servicing prevalent in lots of cars this information cannot always be totally relied on.
These days manufacturer service schedules are linked more in line with how the car is being driven (i.e. the cars computer decides when the service is required). This means that, unlike in the past when they required annual services, they can sometimes not even be seen by a technician until they have done more than 20,000 miles, which can leave cars wide vulnerable to being clocked.
Some car makers are taking steps to eradicate the possibility of clocking by developing technology which will ensure that all the mileage and maintenance information is stored within a code in the key, thus allowing dealers to make a simple check to verify the cars authenticity. Unfortunately this will not help drivers of cars which do not have these advancements, but dealers are taking steps to combat this by resetting their cars to time and distance servicing, meaning they almost always require an annual inspection of some sort which at least helps to verify the service history and mileage.
If the odd car slips through the net at least its value will be significantly less if it is not maintained by a franchised or authorised service centre.
Unfortunately if someone wants to break the rules there are always those willing to assist them and sadly it will continue to happen as car makers try to keep ahead of the crooks.
Sadly the people that are likely to suffer from a clocked car though are the ones who cannot afford it and unless buyers and car dealers alike are especially vigilant it could end up costing a small fortune and bring untold misery.
Here are some basic tips to spotting a car which may have been clocked:
Look for a smooth steering wheel which would indicate long use should the wear be so pronounced on the age of the car.
Look at the pedals and surrounding carpets for signs of excess wear and tear as this could also indicate far more use than the stated mileage may indicate.
How does the driver’s seat feel? Is it still firm and comfortable or is lopsided or spongy?
Always check the service history in the service book and ensure the mileage stated adds up with the servicing parameters. Also ensure that the stamps are genuine, if necessary contact the dealer whose stamp is in the book for verification.
Always ask for an NMR certificate or HPI check, again not an absolute guarantee but will go some way to assuring the potential buyer.
Have an independent inspection carried out it won’t necessarily tell if a car mileage is genuine but if the inspector has any doubt it will be money well spent to walk away.
Wherever possible try and buy from a reputable car dealer who will need to show due diligence when selling you a car and prove that they have taken every precaution to verify the vehicles provenance.