Clocked classics rack up risks
Clocking – altering a car’s odometer reading – is on the rise in the UK, especially if you buy a classic with a digital odometer.
The practice increased by 25 per cent between 2014 and 2016 according to a November report from the Local Government Association (LGA).
The independent group, which represents 370 councils across England and Wales, called for mileage correction services and alteration software – which allow odometer figures to be digitally ‘wound back’
– to be made illegal. Its statistics reported that one in 16 so-equipped cars in the UK have some kind of mileage discrepancy.
EU legislation outlawing this form of clocking has been proposed, but has yet to be brought into UK law. Regardless of the Brexit outcome, the LGA wants to make sure that this legislation is carried over.
The LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board chair, Councillor Simon Blackburn, said: ‘ Trading Standards teams across the country often receive more complaints about used cars than anything else. This is why the proposed EU ban on mileage correction services needs to be made part of UK law as soon as possible, otherwise thousands more cars will continue to be clocked, jeopardising the safety of cars and passengers on UK roads.’
Digital odometers found favour during the mid-Eighties; claims of their impregnability were fostered by the Jaguar XJ40’s ‘unclockable’ Lucas binnacle, which made several appearances on contemporary episodes of Top Gear.
John-Joe Vollans, editor of CCW’s sister title, Modern Classics, urged buyers of cars with digital odometers to remain vigilant, as well as checking the MoT history of their potential purchase online. He said: ‘Digital era classics are a different ball game to classics of previous decades. The old analogue method of winding back the miles often had some tell-tale signs. Chief among them was the fact that the numbers often didn’t roll around exactly level, showing that the odometer had been tampered with. Digital speedos obviously don’t show any signs.
‘Check the MoT history tallies. Has there been a significant drop in use in the past few years? If so, find out why. Combine this with a thorough check of the car’s condition; seats, steering wheel and gearstick leather (if fitted), which will all show signs of high miles. If in doubt, trust your gut, if it seems too good to be true, or if there’s something not quite adding up, walk away.’ mot-history.net local.gov.uk
classics with digital odometers can and are being clocked, an lGa report has found.