Car dealers forced to battle for used car stock are being warned to take extra care as new analysis by vehicle history checking company CarVertical suggests that one in 14 used cars under five years old have incorrect or falsified mileages.
One to five-year-old Nissans are the most commonly clocked nearly-new vehicle, with almost a fifth (18.9%) of them checked by CarVertical showing a discrepancy between their odometer and recorded mileage.
Renault (16.1%) was the next most common brand for clocked nearly-new cars, followed by Peugeot (15.8%).
CarVertical suggests that digital dashboards, coupled with the prevalence of mileage-related motor finance arrangements such as leasing and personal contract purchase which charge penalties for exceeded mileage limits, have played into the hands of unscrupulous businesses which are able to electronically change the recorded mileage.
Mileage correction services are controversial but not illegal. Falsely lowering a used vehicle’s mileage can inflate its sale price by as much as 25% and can also lead to much higher maintenance costs, as clocked cars that have been driven more miles than it appears will have also sustained more wear and tear.
Overall, 9.6% of cars checked on CarVertical over the past 12 months to September were found to be clocked.
With around 1.8 million used cars changing hands each quarter in 2023, the data company claims that around 690,000 drivers are at risk of becoming a victim of mileage fraud this year alone.
CarVertical’s data shows that the average one-year-old used car has 20,742 miles on the clock. Three-year-old cars have been driven for 32,111 miles on average, with five-year-old vehicles travelling for 48,629 miles.
Matas Buzelis, car expert at CarVertical, said: “Any car that has been driven for many more miles than it appears will have more wear and tear and are more at risk of mechanical problems.
“They will also not be worth as much money — potentially leaving the new owner out of pocket if they try to sell it later.
“A car’s mileage is a crucial determining factor of how much it’s really worth.”
In 2020, Peterborough-based Shaffarat Parvez of Cromwell Road, Peterborough, the director of independent used car retailer Carpoint at Fengate, was handed an 18-week suspended jail sentence in relation to car clocking offences.
Parvez pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud and one count of contravening professional diligence ahead of a hearing at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard the then 31-year-old had admitted altering the mileage of a Vauxhall Corsa and Astra offered for sale from Carpoint.
Parvez was also ordered to pay £6,529 costs and a victim surcharge of £115 at this week’s hearing.
Carpoint, which pleaded guilty to the same charges, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.