When you buy a car, you always have to take a few precautions. You never quite know what you’re buying unless you do extensive research and prepare thoroughly. One of the pitfalls that can present itself in a damaging form is car ‘clocking’. I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of this before! It’s one of many things that can be done to a car to make it look better than it actually is. Basically; it’s a way of making lots of money on something that isn’t fit for purpose. So, let’s take a look at what clocking is, and how to avoid it.
What Is It?
When you sell a car that has done a high number of miles, you can’t expect to get too much for it. It’s obvious that it’s on its last legs, so it isn’t going to do the job for very long. In some rare cases, sellers will get involved in clocking. This is a way of altering the speedometer to show statistics that aren’t accurate. While the car might have done 100,000 miles, the clock might only show 50,000.
It can actually be done manually if you know what you’re doing, or it can be altered with a computer. Either way, it’s illegal, and the penalties for selling a car this way can be severe as shown in this bbc.co.uk example. You need to ensure that you don’t fall for this technique, or you’ll be throwing a lot of cash down the drain.
How To Protect Against It
It’s all well and good saying that you need to stay away from this, but how do you actually do that? Well, there are a few things you can do to ensure that clocking doesn’t become an issue with your new purchase.
Firstly, an efficient way of checking that clocking hasn’t taken place is to do an HPI check. It’s easy to carry one of these out at a website like HPICheck.com, and the results will be with you almost instantly. It’ll cost money, but it’s a great way of checking to see if any mileage discrepancies are present, as well as other things.
If you want to be extra safe, there are other things you can do as well. The next thing you’ll want to do is to check the history of the car. This means asking the owner for all documentation to ensure everything is up to scratch. If they can’t provide this for you, it’s an obvious sign of foul play. If they have got the documentation, triple-check it. Look to see if there are mileage discrepancies and whether it checks out. You’ll also want to check any MOT certificates that are provided for you. These checks record the mileage on the car, so compare all the documents you have to ensure they are accurate.
Another thing you’re going to want to do is visually inspect the vehicle. You should always do this when buying any type of car, even if it’s new! Look at the mileage on the clock and see if it seems to correlate with the condition of the vehicle. Look under the bonnet as well, as you never know what you might find. If the mileage is low but it looks like excessive wear and tear is present, your warning signals should be going off! Question the owners about that damage if you need to, but don’t take their word for it. If the car has been clocked, you need to remember that it probably hasn’t been maintained well at all in the past.
With this in mind, you’ll also want to take a test drive. If they refuse this, walk away immediately. You should never be refused the chance to take a test drive in a car you want to buy. When you’re behind the wheel, listen out for any strange noises. See what the performance feels like. Does it sound or feel like it has done a lot of miles? Is it grinding and whirring away more than usual? Ask someone else to help you with this by going along for the ride. Try and take a fairly long test drive if possible. You need to ensure that this vehicle isn’t going to break down soon after you make the purchase.
Don’t panic! Car clocking isn’t that common, but it’s common enough that you need to look out for it. Pick a reputable dealer when buying your car and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. In all cases, as long as you take the right precautions, you should be just fine.