Why Checking a Car’s Mileage is Crucial Before Buying

June 8, 2023 by Zoe Hicks – 3 mins read

Take the stress out of buying your next car with a Motorscan vehicle check that provides comprehensive data to help you establish that the car you’ve fallen in love with doesn’t come with a bundle of costly problems. Our latest guide delves into discovering mileage anomalies and the pros and cons of high-mileage vehicles.

Starting the journey of buying a car is an exciting venture, igniting visions of you sitting behind the wheel of your dream car and the liberating feeling of hitting the open road. However, there are downfalls if you’re not super careful and don’t do your homework. Surely you don’t want to drive your new vehicle home only to discover problems you weren’t aware of! So, with that in mind, Motorscan has been looking at the subject of car mileage and how it can play a vital part in determining whether the car you’re about to buy should leave you running for the hills! Our comprehensive guide also tackles how to detect possible issues and explains how easy it is to check and verify a vehicle’s mileage.

Does mileage matter when buying a used car?

A car’s mileage may seem like a relatively innocuous piece of information when it comes to car buying. However, a car’s mileage can sometimes turn out to be a vital indicator that not everything is as it seems. Firstly, a vehicle’s mileage provides valuable insights into its overall wear and tear, usage patterns, and potential future performance. However, delving further into the car’s historical mileage can sometimes uncover anomalies indicating problems you’d probably want to avoid.

How important is an odometer reading?

The odometer reading displays the total mileage a vehicle has travelled, serving as a crucial indicator of the car’s overall condition and usage. It also allows potential buyers to assess the vehicle’s wear and tear, evaluate its value and consider possible mechanical problems in the future, in addition to its remaining lifespan. Additionally, any discrepancy between the odometer reading and the car’s actual condition could indicate tampering or ‘clocking’, an illegal practice of rolling back the mileage to deceive buyers.

Can you tell if a vehicle has been clocked?

There are ways which may indicate a vehicle’s mileage has been tampered with, including wear and tear not being consistent with the mileage, such as the interior items showing excessive wear on the steering wheel, pedals, or driver’s seat not consistent with the low mileage. Similarly, inspect the exterior and check for paint chips, dents, or rust that may not align with the odometer reading. In addition, you can also check for mismatched documentation not corresponding with the mileage reading, including inspection reports, service records and previous sales listings.

How do you tell clocked mileage?

The only definitive process of checking to see if a car’s mileage has been clocked or tampered with is to carry out a vehicle history check that will give you insight into the vehicle’s mileage history, past ownership and MOT records—Motorscan partners with manufacturers, auction houses, leasing companies and the DVLA to bring you up to date mileage data. Then, armed with Motorscan’s comprehensive data, you’ll be able to determine the accuracy of the odometer reading and identify potential discrepancies.

Should I buy a clocked car?

It is generally not recommended. Tampering with a car’s mileage is illegal, involving the alteration of the odometer to show a lower mileage than the vehicle has actually completed. Selling a clocked car is a criminal offence.

What happens if a car is clocked?

When searching for a second hand vehicle, you should always be cautious and verify the car’s mileage with a vehicle history check to reassure yourself that the mileage is genuine. And, if due diligence leads you to discover a vehicle has been tampered with by clocking, walk away. However, if it’s too late and you discover your new purchase has been clocked, inform the local Police and Trading Standards office. You cannot sell the vehicle knowingly of the issue as you’ll be similarly committing an offence.


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