Fighting mileage fraud on used cars

Up to 50% of second hand cars in the EU, can have their odometers tampered with, according to figures from the European Parliament writes Geraldine Herbert

The EU is set to crack down on odometer tampering of used vehicles. Parliament adopted a resolution calling for tougher rules on 31 May.

What is the current situation?

Though odometer manipulation is prohibited in 25 EU countries, sanctions can vary widely. Parliament wants stricter measures to prevent mileage fraud and improve the consistency of penalties across the EU.


How widespread is Odometer tampering and what is the impact?

30 – 50% of second-hand cars traded in the EU have had their mileage rolled back on, with the price of vehicles fraudulently increasing by €2,000-€5,000 on average

Closer to home in the UK new research by car history experts HPI claims the number of cars being clocked has gone from 1-in-20 in 2014 to 1-in-16 last year. It estimates 2.3m cars have incorrect mileages.


What is the impact of clocking?

  1. This fraud is costing an estimated €5.6-€9.6 billion a year to consumers, second-hand car dealers, leasing companies, insurers and manufacturers.
  2. Consumers not only pay too much for their vehicles, but are often faced with unexpected maintenance and repair expenses for overused cars.
  3. Road safety is compromised by potentially hazardous vehicle.


What is recommended?

    1. 1) The creation of a European database collecting mileage readings of all EU cars, similar to Belgium’s “Car-Pass” (Belgium appears to have one of the best clocking solutions. Their CarPass system uses a central database into which mileage readings are regularly fed – such as when a car is in for repairs. The system shows the registered odometer readings and the dates they were recorded. As a result of its introduction irregular odometer readings have fallen dramatically).

2) Recognition of odometer tampering as a criminal offence across all EU countries.

3) Technical Inspections to include regular registration of vehicle mileage readings.

4) Integration of tamper-proof technological solutions by car manufacturers.

What is the situation in Ireland?

1 in 10 second hand cars for sale in Ireland has a false mileage displayed according to the largest study of its kind ever conducted by Cartell and the AA. The figure is even worse for cars imported from the UK where nearly 1 in 5 has an unreliable or questionable mileage reading. According to Motorcheck the rate is always hovering between 15% – 20% with no reduction since the introduction of legislation in 2014 to criminalise the practice.



How do I find out if a vehicle has been clocked?

1) Carry out a comprehensive history check through online websites for example, Motorcheck, Cartell, Carhistorycheck etc. This can show if a vehicle has been written off, clocked or if it has outstanding finance.
2) NCTS started printing the odometer history on the NCT Cert and the current reading on the disc from July 2014. So ask to see the Cert/disc and compare with the reading on the vehicle now.
3) Ask to see the vehicle’s service history book and check for regular maintenance and the odometer recording.



Is there a law against clocking vehicles?

It is illegal to interfere, or engage another person to, interfere with an odometer. Road Traffic Act, 2014

It is an offence for a trader to mislead customers by providing false information in relation to a “products usage or prior history” The Consumer Protection Act 2007.

Why does the NCT not check for clocked cars and report them?
The NCTS is not responsible for policing odometer fraud or clocked vehicles. The data recorded at the NCT is transferred to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) where it is stored and An Garda Síochána has access to this data. Enforcement of the Road Traffic Acts relating to clocking is the responsibility of An Garda Síochána.
What to do if you buy a clocked car

If you have evidence that a car has been clocked or crashed, report it to the Competition & Consumer Protection Commission. as soon as possible and you should also contact the Gardaí.
You can listen back here to Geraldine Herbert discussing the subject of car clocking and the EU proposal on RTE’s DriveTime here.


Geraldine Herbert
5th June, 2018



Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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