Turn back time not the miles

Article date: 22 October 2008

  • HPI warns consumers of the risk of ‘clocking'

As British Summer Time ends this Sunday and we turn the clocks back an hour, HPI wants us all to be aware of another type of clock which shouldn't be changed. Used car buyers need to watch out for unscrupulous sellers who turn vehicle clocks back. Traditionally "clockers" had to physically tamper with the odometer to wind back the mileage, but today's digital displays mean miles can be erased without a trace, leaving many buyers in the dark. HPI raises awareness of the issue and offers used car buyers top tips on spotting possible signs of clocking.

"When people turn their clocks back this Sunday, we'd like them to remember how easy it is for an unscrupulous seller to do the same on their potential purchase," explains Nick Lindsay, director of HPI. "Modern digital odometers make it easy for clockers to turn back the miles without leaving the normal signs of damaged screws or poorly aligned numbers to alert buyers.

"A vehicle that has been clocked can add hundreds or possibly even thousands of pounds to its value, something best avoided in the current economic climate. In addition, a clocked vehicle might be hiding unexpected wear and tear, which could be expensive or even dangerous. An HPI Check provides a mileage check as standard, offering used car buyers the ultimate in peace of mind."

When buyers conduct their HPI Check, the mileage of the vehicle is automatically cross-referenced against the HPI's comprehensive National Mileage Register, which has over 125 million records. Seven in every 100 vehicles checked with HPI shows a discrepancy in the vehicle's mileage and many of those will prove to be fraudsters keen to get a higher price for their vehicle.

HPI Checks are available at www.hpicheck.com/ from just £19.99. With more vehicle information than anybody else, HPI provides instant confirmation as to whether a vehicle has been stolen, written-off, clocked, or has outstanding finance.

Lindsay concludes, "Buyers who conduct an HPI Check can rest assured that they have done everything they can to ensure that the car they are buying is showing the correct mileage. Plus, of course the car will also be checked for finance, theft and insurance write-offs.

HPI's tips on spotting a clocked car

  • Shiny steering wheel/gear stick can indicate high mileage. However, clever clockers may replace them, so look out for brand new ones too.
  • Worn pedals are a tell tale sign. Most clockers are wise to this one, so look out for new pedal rubbers, as there should be some signs of wear.
  • Poorly aligned digits on odometer. Many cars have wonky digits, so look for other signs too. Some digital odometers will show irregularities such as missing numbers and strange symbols if they have been tampered with.
  • Worn screw heads around instrument panel. This could be a sign of tampering, but instrument panels can be removed for a number of innocent reasons. Look for other signs too.
  • Worn driver's seat. Seats are expensive to replace, so a saggy, worn seat is definite indication of high mileage.
  • Excessive tyre wear. A car with very low mileage (under 10,000 miles) shouldn't have worn tyres, especially the spare.
  • Excessive stone chips. High mileage cars usually have lots of chips on the front ends.
  • Check service history. Odometer changes are often recorded in the service history. If in doubt of the service history, call the garage.
  • And finally... Any one of the signs of high mileage mentioned may be perfectly innocent and explainable. Look for a cluster of several tell-tale signs. Do not take any one in isolation. If in doubt, conduct an HPI Check.

To conduct an HPI Check: log on to www.hpicheck.com/newfrontend/hpi_check.jsp, or call the dedicated number 01722 422 422


For press enquiries please contact:
Margot Tomkinson, Dominic Dennis and Justine Hoadley at HSL 0208 977 9132.

Notes to editors:

About HPI
Originally established in 1938, HPI Limited is a primary source of vehicle information for the UK motor industry and motoring consumer, which since August 2004 has been owned by Norwich Union. HPI encompasses both the HPI database of all UK road registered vehicle descriptions and histories, and the National Mileage Register which holds in excess of 125 million mileage readings.

Together, HPI and NMR represent the UK's largest vehicle information source, combining and interpreting data from government agencies, industry bodies, private organisations, the police and the general public. Registering with HPI helps companies to protect their financial interests in motor vehicles and a wide range of other mobile assets. HPI Checks give purchasers instant confirmation of whether vehicles are correctly described, known to be subject to outstanding finance or serious accident damage, or recorded as stolen or "clocked".

'HPI' and the HPI logo are registered trademarks of HPI Limited. 

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