Used cars – What you need to know to avoid buying a clocked car and losing money


Clocked vehicles are used cars which have had their mileage artificially altered which could cause a number of problems for motorists.

Criminals will clock cars by changing their mileage to be able to sell it on for more money as cars can attract a higher price if they have lower mileage.

The family of an average second-hand family car could increase by as much a £4,000 if the milage is altered. If an unsuspecting motorist purchases a used car then they could be at risk.

The reason for this is clocked milage can skew when cars need to be fixed or repaired, meaning parts could be more worn or damaged that you expect.

This could increase the chances of them having a car accident on the road as a result. What’s more, you could be needlessly overpaying for a vehicle that is older and more susceptible to breakdowns.

As cars age, the likelihood of them being worn, damaged or needing repaired increases. Research released last year that clocking has actually been on the rise over the past few years.

Motorists may assume that the practice would’ve died out as cars become more digital and the practice becomes harder to achieve but data reveals the contrary.

It states that between 2014 and 2016 clocking increased by 25 per cent across Britain, which cost motorists an estimated £800 million.

Other research also stated that as many as one in 16 cars could have clocked car mileage. Was this means is that there could be up to 2.3 million clocked and dangerous cars on the road in Britain.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Car clocking is a rising major fraud which not only rips off motorists but can have dangerous implications.

“Anyone buying a second-hand car should make thorough checks to ensure that the vehicle is showing its true mileage and that its service history and MOT certificate are accurate.

“Clocking is tarnishing the reputation of honest used car dealers and sellers, and councils won’t hesitate to bring any car dealer or private seller to justice who shows a blatant disregard for safety and consumer rights.”


  • Check with the DVLA for previous MOTs that show the car’s mileage.
  • Check the service history of the car to see if it tallies with the claimed mileage for each year – check that it goes up steadily and that it doesn’t suddenly drop.
  • Check the steering wheel, driver’s seat and pedals for wear that is disproportionate to the claimed mileage as a sign of a clocked car.
  • When collecting the car, check it shows the same mileage as when first viewed. It’s not unknown for the mileage to be reduced for a viewing, then to go back up once the car is being collected.
  • Conduct a vehicle provenance check – A provenance check will confirm what the mileage of the vehicle should be according to legitimate service and MOT records.


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