RAC Cars News


What Does The Clock Say?

By raccars Published

Image Source

Everyone knows about clocking - it's what dodgy, Arthur Daley-style used car salesmen used to do to make the old bangers they were flogging look more appealing. However, just as flares, hostess trolleys and every other trend roll back around, clocking is back in fashion.

In the old days, clocking meant getting into the dashboard of a car and physically winding back the odometer so a lower mileage appeared. Now, the same result is achieved by means of modern computerised technology.

HPI, the vehicle history agency, studied mileage inaccuracies in cars in 2013 and found the number of cases had risen by 3% from 2012, after a downward trend from the previous few years. The agency suggests that there could be up to half a million cars on UK roads displaying inaccurate mileage figures.

Modern technology has made the process easier rather than harder to achieve and has resulted in a new breed of mileage correction companies. Digital odometers in modern cars can suffer from corruption, which these companies offer to correct - and apparently, it's completely legal. Some companies demand documentation to prove the correct mileage before making alterations but others will simply make changes upon customer request. When mileage correction does go against the law is if the owner sells the car without informing the buyer that the correction has taken place.

The Trading Standards Institute claims there is a grey area surrounding the process. The Consumer Regulation Act allows people to be prosecuted for clocking if they are proved to be traders who are selling the vehicle for financial gain. Mileage correction companies sometimes ask car owners to sign disclaimer forms, confirming that they understand that selling the car on without informing the new owner that the car has undergone a mileage correction process is a criminal offence, but this system has never been tested in court.

The TSI points out that the 2006 Fraud Act can also be used to protect buyers, as it prohibits the alteration of goods or services or their misrepresentation for financial gain or profit. The Act applies to private sellers and traders. The Institute is clear that the only occasion when mileage correction can be legal is if the odometer breaks, but suggests that the best way to handle that eventuality is to take the car to a dealership, so that the incident is put on record. Altering the mileage for any other reason is a criminal offence.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars