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BBC’s Watchdog focuses on clocking

7th May 2010 Print

Leading vehicle information expert, HPI joined forces with BBC Watchdog journalists to help uncover a clocking scam, which was making a fraudster posing as Ashley Singh and his brother thousands of pounds per sale. With 1 in 12 cars checked by HPI showing mileage discrepancies it is essential that used car buyers stay vigilant and protect themselves from the risk of unscrupulous vendors.

Mr Singh was selling clocked cars from his home via online used car sales websites, using fake identities and even doctoring the service histories to cover his tracks. Watchdog set up the two fraudsters by selecting a car that would be a prime target for a clocker. They sold him the car for £2,300 with a mileage of 128,000 miles and later found the Singhs selling it for £6,000 with a mere 47,000 on the clock.

Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager for HPI comments, “The Watchdog programme showed that clocking remains a very real threat to used car buyers. Unscrupulous sellers like Ashley Singh see the clocking of a vehicle as an easy way to raise its price and make some extra cash by putting thousands of pounds onto the price tag. And it’s not just prestige cars that are the target for clockers, so all used car buyers need to be on the look out.”

Modern digital odometers are now commonplace, making it even easier for clocked vehicles to evade detection, as the traditional tell-tale signs of damage to screws or poorly aligned numbers are not visible. The Office of Fair Trading issued a report into the used car market earlier this year which featured figures show that clocking costs buyers £500 million each year and both the BBC and HPI urge used car buyers to protect themselves. Anyone wanting to verify mileages would be best served with an HPI Check, which includes a National Mileage Check as standard, using information that dates back to 1997. HPI’s National Mileage Register now contains over 13 years worth of records, totalling more than 135 million readings, giving buyers extra assurance that a vehicle checked by HPI has not been clocked.

Johnson continues, “The most worrying thing is that clocked vehicles may be dangerous. Vehicles with incorrect mileages may have more wear and tear than the buyer realises and may have missed important services and part replacement dates. HPI urges consumers protect themselves from the threat of clockers and the risk of paying over the odds for what may be a dangerous vehicle.”

With more vehicle information than anybody else, HPI also confirms the vehicle description, whether it is currently recorded as stolen, been written-off by an insurance company or is subject to outstanding finance. The HPI Check offers a financial guarantee, offering added peace of mind to used car buyers at a time when finances are tight.


Check the service history - Check the mileages displayed in the service history and look for service stamps from a genuine dealer.  Ideally the service invoices will accompany the service history.

Speak to the previous keeper - Get in contact with the previous keeper (details can be found on the logbook). They can identify the mileage of the vehicle when they sold it.  Make sure this adds up with the current mileage.

Trust your judgement - Check who the car was last registered to on the V5.  Was it registered as a company car but has done less than 12,000 miles per year?  Or is it 15 years old with only 20,000 on the clock? Look for any evidence that indicates clocking.

Check the mileage - It has been known for clockers to wind back the mileage when you first view the vehicle and then return it to its original value once the transaction is complete.  Make sure you check the mileage is the same when you pick up the vehicle.

Look for signs of wear and tear - Does the wear and tear on the vehicle match its mileage?  Be careful to look out for signs such as worn seats, steering wheels and other vehicle parts.  Also look out for brand new easily replaceable parts, these could indicate replacement that does not correspond with the vehicles displayed mileage.

Conduct an HPI Check - Let us check our mileage database of 135 million mileages against the displayed vehicle mileage.