Dealers warned of 'car clocking crisis' - and customers are to blame

As the number of cars bought through tempting PCP deals hits an all-time high, a data firm has warned the number of clocked cars on the roads could also escalate.

With many finance offers including (sometimes unrealistic) mileage limits, drivers are more likely than ever to resort to clocking to avoid expensive fees for exceeding their allowance. The act of clocking (turning back the mileage on a car’s odometer) is currently legal – but selling a clocked car without declaring its actual mileage is illegal.

Many drivers are happy to hand back their clocked cars when their PCP deal ends, says car history website Cazana, without being entirely honest about their history. This is leading to clocking now being associated with finance-savvy consumers rather than dodgy car dealers.

“Throughout the past ten years, there have been calls for the trade to clean up its act when it comes to clocking, and these words have been heeded,” said Cazana’s director of valuations, Rupert Pontin.

“However, what we are starting to see is more consumers deliberately clocking their cars to ensure they do not go over the terms of their PCP agreements. As finance becomes the most common option for vehicle purchasing, we are seeing an increase in clocked vehicles returning to the used car market.”

The latest official figures reveal that one in 16 used cars has a clocked mileage – a 25 percent increase compared to 2014. This trend is expected to continue, as the number of new cars bought through PCP hit more than 82 percent last year.

Pontin added: “Dealers do not always have the required equipment or experience to thoroughly check PCP vehicles for clocking during the de-fleeting process, and auction houses are also in a similar position as they act as remarketing agents. The trade needs to be extra vigilant and continue to keep an eye out for evidence of clocking.”

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