ALMOST a quarter of used cars have had their mileage changed, according to a new survey.
The largest analysis of its kind – carried out by car history experts Motorcheck.ie – examined the history of 20,000 vehicles in detail.
The study found:
• Nearly one quarter (23.24pc) of cars had their mileage changed or "clocked".
Motorcheck.ie was able to access previous readings to confirm there had been alterations.
• 24pc of those under seven years of age still had finance repayments outstanding.
• 6.5pc had a warning which indicated the car had been written off previously – or had been involved in a serious accident.
• 2pc had been used as a taxi at some stage.
The figures highlight the pitfalls of buying secondhand, especially from private sellers – as opposed to registered garages.
The most sinister element is that you may be buying a death trap if you purchase a car that has had its mileage altered.
Vital parts such as brakes, suspension, gearbox, clutch, etc could all be more worn and fragile than the 'clocked' mileage suggests.
The second major danger is that if you buy a car with finance outstanding, it can be seized by the loan company and you could be at a complete loss.
The loan firm owns the car until the finance is cleared. The person who sells you the car with finance outstanding is passing the poisoned chalice to you.
There have been instances of cars being towed away from the new owner's driveway.
The number of used cars sold last year was more than 550,000. That compares with around 80,000 new cars.
On the basis of Motorcheck's research, more than 100,000 of those used cars could have finance outstanding or have been clocked.
Buying a used car always involves an element of risk, especially if from a private seller.
Consumer legislation is relatively weak where cars are sold on a 'private-to-private' basis, according to Shane Teskey of Motorcheck.ie.
"This is why it is so important that a prospective buyer carries out the necessary checks in advance of finalising any deal," he said.