Used car scams: clocking

Most buyers won’t touch a car if it’s done a huge mileage, which is why some unscrupulous sellers turn back the clock when they want to shift a high-mileage vehicle.

By reducing the apparent mileage of a car, that vehicle will be more attractive to a buyer – as well as more valuable. Some modern cars have digital odometers, which can easily be reset with the use of the correct software. 

Some unscrupulous sellers turn back the clock when they want to shift a high-mileage vehicle

However, traditional analogue odometers have to be removed for the mileage to be wound back, so if the car has one of these, look for evidence that the dashboard has been tampered with. Damaged screw heads is one way of looking, or scratches in the paint around the screws.

Whatever type of odometer is fitted, check that the wear and tear on the car fits in with the stated mileage. If the pedal rubbers and steering wheel are worn smooth, the car isn’t a low-mileage one.

Ask for the car’s service history and previous MoTs; they’ll all have the mileage on, so make sure it goes up steadily and doesn’t suddenly drop. It has also been known for a car’s mileage to be reduced for the selling process, but once you’ve snapped it up, the odometer then mysteriously reverts to its true reading. That’s why you need tocheck the reading doesn’t suddenly shoot up between buying the car and collecting it.