Cheats ripping off car buyers as 'clocking' scams on rise
Published 06/03/2013 | 05:00
Cars driven 160,000km more than stated
MORE cars than ever have had their mileage altered as cheats cash in on demand for secondhand vehicles, Independent Motors can reveal.
The shady figures behind the practice are putting the lives of unsuspecting buyers at risk by falsifying mileage ('clocking') to the tune of up to 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometres) on some cars, new Cartell.ie figures show.
The implications are sinister for the safety of drivers, passengers and the road users they meet because of potentially excessive wear and tear on vital parts.
As well as that, buyers risk losing thousands when the true history of their purchase is discovered and the trade-in value of their car plummets.
According to the car-history and vehicle-check experts at Cartell.ie, more than 11pc of cars now on our roads have been 'clocked'.
That is a frightening proportion. It means more than one in 10 cars being driven today is likely to be dodgy in some respect.
The 11pc figure is based on details of more than 50,000 cars and as such is likely to be an accurate reflection of what is going on.
Responding to queries from Independent Motors, the legal manager of Cartell.ie, John Byrne, says the rate of clocking has steadily increased since the start of the recession.
He adds: "Worryingly, the clocking rate has crept up steadily since we started tracking these figures.
"The figure of 11pc is almost twice as high as the comparable figure in the UK which currently stands at 6pc."
The lack of cash for new vehicles is helping to drive demand for used cars. And that is where the 'clockers' are exploiting the market.
There is no doubt the number of older cars is increasing. The 2011 Bulletin of Vehicle and Driver Statistics showed that 79pc of private cars were four years or older (71pc in 2009) while 60pc were six years and older (53pc in 2009).
"Lower mileage vehicles, particularly for certain registration years such as 2009, can be sold at a premium due to the considerable demand for them," Mr Byrne says.
He and his colleagues are aware of several severe cases of clocked vehicles this year.
They tell a story of one customer who checked with their organisation this week.
It had a recorded mileage from a reputable source that was 100,000 miles more than the stated current total.
"Worse still, that mileage had been recorded three years ago," Mr Byrne revealed.
That means it could have travelled as many as 200,000 miles more than was claimed.
Whoever buys a vehicle like that could face huge repair bills. They would also get a lot less when they trade it in, leaving them thousands of euro out of pocket.
Buying privately is fraught with danger but according to recent analysis, buyers appear to be increasingly bypassing established dealers when it comes to purchasing secondhand vehicles.
Consumer legislation is quite weak in the area of private-to-private sale deals.
A bill to criminalise clocking was drafted by Cartell's legal division and has passed Stage I in the Oireachtas.
It is set for Stage II later this year.
The company's director, Jeff Aherne, has warned that the rate of clocking will increase if the Government does not take urgent action.
The worrying increase in clocking coincides with findings that suggest we are going to hold on to our cars for longer – creating even sharper demand for those motors on the market with reasonable mileage.
The findings from an AA online poll show that nearly one in four drivers (79pc) will hold on to their current vehicle for as long as they can.
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