Clocked cars

It is an offence under consumer protection law for a trader to give false, misleading or deceptive information about the history of a car, for example, a trader giving false information about a clocked car.

Your car displays the total mileage it has driven on a meter called the odometer on the dashboard – this is essentially a ‘clock’ which tells you how many miles or kilometres your car has driven.

“Clocking” means changing the genuine odometer reading of the car in order to make the car seem like it has been driven less than it actually has.

The average annual mileage of a privately owned petrol car in Ireland is about 17,000 kilometres (10,500 miles). Diesel cars, if they have been used for business purposes, could have a higher average of about 24,000 kilometres (15,000 miles). So if you are thinking about buying a car that has substantially lower mileage than this over its lifetime, and also shows signs of heavy wear and tear, for example on the seat covers, pedal rubbers, gear knob or steering wheel, always be wary.

Spotting a car that has been clocked can be tricky. It is always advisable to carry out some checks on the car before you pay any money over – check the car’s documented history and have it looked at by a competent mechanic to be on the safe side.

Clocked cars could turn out to be both dangerous and expensive for the buyer. If you don’t know what the real mileage is, then you can’t judge the real condition of the car and parts that you think should be in good working order might be at the point where they are about to fail.

I think I bought a clocked car, what should I do?

Before paying for a car you should ask the seller to write the mileage, as displayed on the odometer, on your receipt. That way you have a record of the mileage the seller claimed was on the car if you find out later it has been clocked. If they are unwilling to do this, you should consider walking away without buying.

If you have evidence that a car has been clocked, report this to us as soon as possible. You should act quickly as we cannot investigate a suspected clocked car if you have had it for more than three years.

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