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Clocked: Unscrupulous drivers are increasingly getting odometers wound back to avoid mileage penalty charges

Author: Robin Roberts

Clocks go forward on Sunday, but businesses are losing tens of thousands of pounds a year through illegal winding back or “clocking” of their cars and vans.

About 50 mileage correction companies are thought to be involved in this almost unregulated altering of odometers on contract hire vehicles.

The Vehicle Remarketing Association has added its support to the campaign to have mileage correction companies severely regulated to avoid illegal vehicle clocking.

VRA members have over two million used vehicles and have reported a growing number of vehicles being clocked.

Hirers agree a maximum annual mileage at the outset but can cover considerably more miles than the contract they have signed up to. They then use a mileage correction company to clock the vehicle before they return it to avoid paying excess mileage charges.

The issue for the vehicle owner is that they can lose thousands of pounds when they come to sell the clocked car  or van compared to its written down value and will incur further costs if they take the driver to court. In many cases the decision to follow up these issues is treated differently from one police force to another leaving the finance company or leasing company in most cases to spend their own time and money prosecuting the driver.

“Mileage correction companies should be licensed to operate and then regulated to ensure a vehicle’s mileage change is directly reported to the DVLA,” explained John Davies, chairman of the VRA. “If something isn’t done soon our members could find themselves unknowingly passing on a clocked car to a third party which is unacceptable,” he added.

Withington MP John Leech has previously raised the subject in Parliament supported by the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) association, while the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has called for the practice of clocking to be outlawed unless there is a genuine cause for the mileage to have been altered.

Penalties are imposed on hirers when they exceed agreed distances and often the charges are related to several pence per mile and it is increasingly becoming a company car issue .

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