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Clampdown on clocking

A crackdown on clocking, the illegal practice which the Government says costs the UK motor industry £100m a year, has been announced this month in the Road Safety Bill, together with further measures to make the import and export of stolen cars more difficult.

If the Bill becomes law, it should dramatically cut the risks posed to used car retailers of unknowingly selling a vehicle with false mileage, or buying imported stock later found to have been stolen.

The provisions include compulsory recording of mileage when the vehicle is sold, extending the registration of number plate suppliers to Scotland and Ulster, and exchanging vehicle data internationally to combat stolen car traffickers. At present, mileage recording on the V5 document at sale is voluntary.

Dealers who unwittingly sell a vehicle with non-genuine mileage can face civil action for a refund and even criminal prosecution for fraud.

Although the move has been welcomed by the Retail Motor Industry Federation, its chief executive Matthew Carrington is calling for the Government go even further.

“We would like to see a record of mileage kept when the car is relicensed every year, not just when it has a change of ownership.

That way, the clocker would only be able to reduce the mileage by a maximum of the past year’s mileage, so would get little benefit,” he says.

Carrington is also concerned that the computer equipment used to clock a vehicle is too easily available. Car history checking service HPI estimates that 1.4m vehicles currently have a mileage discrepancy.

“Vehicle clocking is bad for the consumer, detrimental to the long-term value of second hand cars, and adversely affects the reputation of the whole retail motor trade, so the government’s intervention is very welcome indeed,” he adds.

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