Car dealers concerned over car clocking

Over 70% of dealers surveyed by HPI, are concerned about damaging their reputation by inadvertently selling on a clocked vehicle. With 1 in 20 cars checked with HPI recorded as having a discrepant mileage, dealers are right to be fearful of clocked cars.

Also high on the list of concerns is the safety risks dealers expose customers to by selling on a clocked car. Interestingly, the threat of a judicial sentence is a relatively low concern by comparison, despite the fact that selling on a vehicle that has a wrong mileage reading would be a ‘false trade description’ and therefore could constitute a criminal offence.  A false trade description or a failure to comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, is a breach of the law.

The advice from HPI is simple; always investigate a vehicle’s mileage by checking with all previous registered keepers, as well as service records.  A thorough mileage investigation has been shown to provide a sound legal defence in clocking cases. Although checking against previous MOT records is advisable, dealers should beware, clockers are known to legitimise false readings on  Dealers should never rely on a single source to validate a mileage and crucially, they must not rely on mileage disclaimers as a substitute for carrying out proper checks. Over 30% of dealers surveyed by HPI said they use mileage disclaimers as standard.

Neil Hodson, managing director for HPI explained, ‘A sound mileage verification strategy, which is backed by a thorough investigations process is not only best practice, but can provide dealers with a sound legal defence. Anything less leaves dealerships, their customers and their reputation, at the mercy of clockers.’

Gerald Taylor, a lead officer for motor trade at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, concluded: ‘All responsible car dealerships should implement a due diligence policy to prevent selling clocked cars, regardless of whether they are franchised or independent. The policy should be in writing so that all staff know what their responsibilities are and all non-verified odometer mileage readings should be disclaimed using pre-printed disclaimer stickers available from HPI.’

Dealers can help protect their business and their bottom line by using HPI’s National Mileage Register (NMR). Not only does the NMR contain over 200 million mileage records covering vehicles of all ages, dating as far back as 1992, it critically holds the mileage readings of vehicles less than 3 years of age. These have been sourced from the likes of manufacturers, as part of their warranty offering, and leasing companies’ service records and disposal declarations.