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As a Birmingham independent car dealer is jailed for five years and six months for clocking more than 4 million miles off cars, vehicle history check expert, HPI, highlights this case to serve as a warning to used car dealers, who aren’t conducting regular mileage checks on their vehicles. Believed to be the biggest investigation ever by Birmingham Trading Standards, the case revealed that the criminal trader had made a profit of £170,000 on vehicles by tampering with mileages.
“Concern over clocking is on the increase. What was perceived to be a ‘thing of the past’, is now firmly back on the national agenda. The biggest risk for dealers is selling a vehicle, unaware that it has an altered mileage,” warns Neil Hodson, Managing Director of HPI. “One in 20 vehicles checked with HPI show a discrepant mileage, but too many dealers are still taking unnecessary risks and underestimate the scale of the problem. Whilst the Birmingham case is extreme, Trading Standards Officers across the country are taking a firm stand against mileage fraud.
“Dealers who don’t take care to ensure all their stock is legitimate could be risking their reputation and their business. A National Mileage Register check is a vital tool for dealers looking to operate best practice. Not only does it give dealers the reassurance that they have met their duty of care under the CPRs (Consumer Protection Regulations), it will also protect their business and their customers, as well as raising standards within the motor industry as a whole.”
HPI runs the National Mileage Register (NMR), the largest independent database of vehicle mileages in the UK. By conducting a check against the National Mileage Register (NMR) dealers can quickly establish if there is a potential problem with the car they are looking to part exchange or buy. Not only does the National Mileage Register contain over 200 million mileage records covering vehicles of all ages, dating as far back as 1992, it crucially holds the mileage readings of vehicles less than 3 years of age.
Dealers should conduct a mileage check as a matter of course, but particularly on any car that has had more than one owner as well as asking customers for the Log Book and Service History.
Neil Hodson concludes, “Our figures show that 70% of dealers are concerned about the threat clocking poses to their reputation. Worryingly, almost 50% of dealers say their customers are not aware of the dangers of buying a clocked car. HPI continues to work with consumers and the industry to raise awareness of used car buying risks. We’re urging dealers to conduct a mileage check every time. It’s the best way to spot a clocked vehicle, before it’s too late.
“If a vehicle has had more than one keeper or it has a discrepancy, HPI’s mileage investigation team will exhaust all avenues to correctly validate the vehicle’s mileage. This gives dealers absolute confidence in the quality and status of its stock, helping them sell more and operate best practice”
HPI urges dealers to protect themselves from the risks
Over 70% of dealers surveyed by HPI, the automotive technology solutions provider, 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 www.gov.uk. 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 explains: “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 critially 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.