Clocking is the illegal practice of winding back the odometer on a high–mileage car to increase its apparent value and asking price. Every 1,000 miles removed increases the value substantially.
Digital odometers on modern cars are unfortunately still vulnerable and can be tampered with using a laptop and some specialised software leaving no visible evidence of interference.
Most cars average around 10,000 miles per year. Check that the mileage on the clock roughly ties in with the age and appearance of the car.
There are some things you can look for that might raise suspicions about a car's mileage:
- Chips made by stones across the front of the bonnet, grille and bumper can be an indication of lots of motorway journeys
- Worn pedal rubbers or a shiny, worn steering wheel would be more likely to be seen on a high mileage vehicle – as would wear on seats or seatbelt webbing
- An older vehicle with virtually new pedals/gearstick and/or upholstery may also indicate that something is being hidden
The vehicle documents should help confirm the mileage. Check the mileages on the service records and MOT history. You can also contact the garages that performed the work and ask them to confirm the mileage they recorded at the time.
The AA Car Data Check includes a mileage check that will compare the current mileage of the vehicle to mileages recorded during the life of the vehicle – any mileages that don't fit the pattern should be investigated.
You can also contact the previous keeper on the V5C/logbook and ask them what the mileage was on the vehicle when they bought and sold it.
If, after all these checks, you still have any doubts, walk away.
(updated 9 November 2015)