The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) reported this week that a car dealer in Waterford has been convicted of “providing false information about the mileage” of a car he sold (also known as ‘clocking’) in the wake of a CCPC investigation and prosecution.
The UK import BMW displayed 36,000 miles on its odometer but the correct figure was 105,412 miles – quite a bit more.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it’s an isolated incident – this week the Irish Independent reported on a call by MEP Deirdre Clune for stricter cross-border cooperation and an EU database recording mileage figures. “There are indications as many as 20pc of UK imports have had their odometer tampered with. That’s a 37pc increase on last year and reflects, among other things, the big increase in numbers buying imports,” writes Eddie Cunningham.
Clocking, which involves changing the odometer reading of a car to make it seem like it has been driven less, is illegal under Irish law. However, it can be difficult for car buyers to spot and could prove dangerous if you accidentally purchase a clocked car, as the condition of the vehicle could be worse than you realised. So what steps can you take to protect yourself?
Wear and tear
Check for any wear and tear that doesn’t match the figure on the odometer. For example, if the odometer displays 20,000km but the seats, the steering wheel or the gear knob are quite worn, it could be an indication of foul play. A mechanic can conduct a more thorough inspection of parts beneath the surface.
If it’s an Irish vehicle, ask to see the NCT certificate, as odometer figures have been included on the document since 2014. You should also check the car’s service history – if regularly serviced the mileage may have been recorded.
There are a number of online tools you can use to check a car’s history online for a relatively small fee – simply input the registration and you can check information including any officially record mileage figures, crashes, or if there’s outstanding finance.
If you suspect a car has been clocked, walk away and make a report to gardaí as soon as possible. If you have purchased a vehicle that has been clocked, contact the CCPC on 1890 432 432 or 01 402 5555 to establish your rights. You could consider making a complaint to the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) if the dealer is a member.
For more information, see www.cpcc.ie.