Car clocking

It is an offence under consumer law for a trader to offer a car for sale which has been clocked.

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 driven a shorter distance than it actually has.

The average annual mileage of a privately owned petrol cars 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 cars 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 just about to fail. For example, you might think that the timing belt does not need to be changed for another 20,000 kilometres, but it might actually be long overdue to be changed. If the timing belt breaks it can damage the engine, often to a point where it is not worth repairing.

Report car clocking

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 also contact the Gardai. You should act quickly - any delay in reporting it may affect our ability to take action. We cannot investigate a suspected clocked car if you have had it for more than three years.

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