Road safety and motoring groups have welcomed news from the Government over a proposed crack down on “clocking”.
Ministers have flagged up what they call an “alarming loophole” where car mileage can be changed as long as the owner declares it when it is sold.
Historically, cars were clocked simply by physically winding back the mechanical mile-o-meter. With the advent of digital mile-o-meters the mileage can still be altered simply with the use of a laptop.
Companies have sprung up over the UK that offer a “clocking” service, some for a little as £40. They link a lap top to the vehicles engine management system and alter the digital mileage directly.
Many of these companies insist on the customer signing a disclaimer reminding the owner that the milage alteration needs to be disclosed when selling the vehicle.
However, widespread use of milage alterations are causing fears for safety posed by ageing cars not receiving the maintenance that they require.
There is also the issue of potential fraud by second hand cars being sold for an inflated value owing to a seeking but false low milage being displayed.
A Government spokesperson stated: “The Government will look into this matter. Clocking with the intent to sell is a criminal offence and any suspected breaches should be passed on to Trading Standards to investigate.”
The Government’s crackdown is supported by groups such as the AA and the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).
“It is estimated that between 1.6 million and 3 million cars may have had their mileage altered and in the next three years thousands more cars will continue to be clocked, hugely compromising the safety of cars on UK roads,” commented Sue Robinson, director, NFDA.
An AA spokesperson said: “The sale and prevalence of clock adjustment services is very worrying, there are some legitimate needs but not on the scale of what you see out there in the market.”
Tim Milsom, a motor trade lead officer at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, warned: “The growing popularity of private car leasing has led to an increase in car clocking. Some unscrupulous owners that go over their mileage allowances would rather adjust the odometer than pay additional fees.”
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