posted 8 years ago

How to Spot a Clocked Vehicle

A clocked vehicle has had its recorded mileage deliberately rolled back to increase its value and desirability.

A clocked vehicle has had its recorded mileage deliberately rolled back to increase its value and desirability. This involves either fiddling with a mechanical odometer, or resetting a digital reading using technical wizardry and a laptop computer. Fortunately, motorists can follow a few simple steps to minimise the risk of buying a clocked motor.

The first is to study the MOT certificates, which record the mileages at the time of each test. Check for missing certificates, and for points when the mileage for one year is lower than the previous. It is also worth looking for changes of usage, e.g. if the vehicle travelled 25,000 miles per-year from 2004 - 2009, is it reasonable that it only covered 1,000 miles in 2010? The MOT history can be checked online if the certificates are missing.

Recorded MOT mileages should then be cross-referenced with the service history. The trick is to look for consistency. So, if an MOT certificate issued in August 2009 records a mileage of 50,000, then a service in September 2009 is likely to have been completed at 51,500 miles – not 62,000. Service histories are easily faked though, so it is worth contacting the garages who apparently completed the work to check the facts.

It is also wise to test drive several examples of your preferred model to establish points of comparison. For example, if you are considering buying a Ford Mondeo 2.0-litre with a recorded mileage of 20,000; it should look, feel, and drive far better than one that has covered 120,000 miles. If it feels the same, be suspicious.

Further precautions include paying for an independent history check that – as well as indicating the mileage - can reveal whether the vehicle has been stolen, written-off, or has money owed on it. Some of these schemes also include insurance that compensates motorists if they later find a problem. It is often worth taking this step simply for peace of mind.

There is always an element of risk when buying a second-hand car, and it can be extremely difficult to categorically confirm the mileage. However, following these simple steps should increase your chances of making the right choice. Good luck.