Due to the ease of altering a car’s mileage and the fact that there are plenty of “mileage correction” services available, it’s important that you check to see if a car’s mileage is genuine before purchasing it. Whether you are buying from a dealer or privately, a “clocked” car is easy to spot using our five mileage checks below.
How To Check If The Mileage Is Genuine?
1. MOT Mileage Records
The first and easiest step you should take to check if the mileage is genuine is to retrieve the car’s MOT history. All that’s required is the car’s registration and you’ll be able to see each of the past results of the MOT tests. Some of the details you’ll be able to see include the car’s mileage, parts that have failed, date of the test and its result. It’s important to note that you can only retrieve results from MOT tests completed since 2005.
2. Digital Service Records
Many car manufacturers have started to use a digital service record in order to store service history details and it’s a great way to check the mileage of a car. To request to see the digital service records, you’ll need to contact the dealership. Once you’ve received the details, you should be able to see all the mileage records whilst any service and warranty work was carried out on the car. You may even be able to see a video of the car having its health check too.
3. Check All The Invoices
If you have arrived to see the car in person, ask to see all of the invoices. Firstly you’ll want to look for any mileage readings stated upon the invoices and ensure that the mileage is rising correctly over time.
You’ll also want to check the parts that have been changed because unless a car has high mileage, it shouldn’t require certain parts. For example, if the invoices state that the rear brake pads were changed at 15,000 miles, this would raise concerns because they would normally last much longer.
4. Plug In A Diagnostic Tool
Depending upon whether or not you have access to an OBD2 scanner, you may be able to check the mileage of the car listed upon various components (as discussed below). Although the car’s odometer displays a certain mileage, the actual value may be far different. The reason why a car’s ECU may display two different mileage readings can be due to an odometer, ECU, engine or another major part that has been changed on the car.
5. Wear And Tear
If all of the above checks make out that the car’s mileage is genuine, the wear and tear should also correlate with the mileage. Some components that often become worn with a high mileage car include the steering wheel, seat bolster, gear knob, pedals, floor mats, switches and anything else that’s used whilst daily driving.
As you can see in the photo of a worn seat bolster, this isn’t something you should expect to see in a low mileage car. If the seat bolster has become worn before 50,000 miles, this should make you question if the mileage is genuine because it indicates plenty of use.
It’s important to note that sellers may attempt to cover up any worn items so you’ll want to check for any new parts and question why they have been replaced. On the outside, you’ll also want to check for any fresh paint used to cover up stone chips and general scratches.
What To Do If Your Car Has Been Clocked?
In short, a clocked car is one that has had its mileage rolled back in order to increase its resale value. The process of clocking a car can be achieved physically in older cars by changing the odometer with one that has less miles. In modern cars, you can simply reprogram the ECU so that the odometer displays a different mileage. However, unless it has been clocked by a “professional” that knows what they are doing, you’ll be able to confirm that it has been clocked by digging a bit deeper.
For example, it’s not just the odometer that stores mileage records because components such as the car’s airbags, ignition, ABS system and various other modules may also store the mileage during an event such as a failure. Therefore, you may be able to find mileage records upon these components in order to confirm that the car has been clocked.
If you’ve discovered that the car you’ve purchased has been clocked, you’ll want to get in touch with the seller immediately. If you bought the car from a dealership, they should offer you a refund under the Consumer Rights Act. However, if the car was bought privately, you may need to negotiate with the seller on the next options.
Whether you are buying a used car privately or from a dealer, it’s crucial that you not only check if the car has been written off but also check if the mileage is genuine. Our five checks above will allow you to spot a clocked car from a mile off (excuse the pun!) but if you feel that’s something not right, we recommend that you walk away from the deal.