Mileage correction clockingMileage correction clocking


Trading Standards’ practical tips for car dealers to protect themselves against clocking 

  • Car dealers are in danger of buying clocked cars if they don’t make some checks
  • National Trading Standards issues tips on what dealers need to do to protect themselves
  • Selling a clocked car is an offence and not knowing it was is ‘not a defence’

Time 6:56 am, March 15, 2024

National Trading Standards has warned used car dealers they need to take every possible step to avoid selling a car that’s been clocked.

Own Kennedy, lead officer for motor sales for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, spoke exclusively to Car Dealer about the things traders can do to stop themselves falling foul of the law.

With the proliferation of PCP and lease deals, which heavily penalise consumers for going over strict mileage limits, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest an increasing number of car owners are turning to ‘mileage correction services’.

These car owners are winding back the miles on their cars ahead of an MOT or service, where the mileage will be recorded, to save themselves a bill at the end of their finance agreement.

While this is almost impossible to spot, used car dealers are at risk of prosecution from Trading Standards officers if they have not taken reasonable steps to investigate.

Kennedy said: ‘The main offence is against the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations of 2008 – and that is an offence of either giving misleading information or omitting material information. 

‘This is an “absolute offence” in that you don’t have to know that you’re doing it – it’s like speeding, you don’t have to know that you’re doing 35mph in a 30mph, the fact that you are, means you are speeding.’

This means just because a car dealer doesn’t know the car he is selling has been clocked doesn’t mean he cannot still be prosecuted.

Kennedy – who is also a senior Trading Standards officer at Doncaster City Council  – explained that there are defences to rely on and these include making sure ‘due diligence’ is exercised when buying a car into stock.

He added: ‘If you, as a trader had, whether knowingly or unwittingly committed an offence, then if you could prove that you’ve taken all reasonable precautions to not commit that offence, and you’d exercised all due diligence, which is the level of care that a reasonable person would use, then effectively you have a defence – so you can be found not guilty, even though you have committed the offence.’

Basic checks

Kennedy advises all dealers to get a mileage history check carried out by an external provider and to keep a record of that check.

He suggests car dealers ask whoever is selling them the vehicle – especially if bought from a member of the public – to sign a mileage declaration form which states that to the ‘best of their knowledge’ the mileage is true and accurate.

And he also suggests checks are made on the MOT history and the service records and these checks are recorded internally. 

In addition, Kennedy said car dealers should really be making ‘reasonable’ checks around the car to see if there are any signs the mileage displayed is incorrect. 

He said: ‘You can look at its overall condition and ask yourself is that in keeping with the mileage that it’s displaying? And if it obviously isn’t, if it’s a very low mileage car, and it’s got new tyres all around, you know, you ought to be wondering why that is.

‘You could ask the previous owner of the vehicle too. But that, of course, may be the person who’s just parked exchanged it with you. But you could get them to sign a document that says whether they believe the mileage to be correct or not. That’s a reasonable thing to do.’

Kennedy said dealers should be taking precautions to ensure all members of their staff are following these processes too.

He added: ‘You need a way of policing your process and making sure that it is working – and that people are reacting properly to whatever information It discloses. That’s why you need to keep records, because otherwise we would come knocking on your door.’

Kennedy said his best advice to used car dealers was to ask themselves ‘is there anything else I could have done to check this car’s mileage?’. 

More advice for car dealers looking to stay on the right side of the law can be found on the Business Companion website which has a specific section for used car sales.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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