Can you trust a used car's mileage?

By: James Ruppert

You would have thought that lowering the mileage to boost the value of a used car would have gone away by now. Especially as the ‘80s digital dashboards and mileage readouts were supposed to be tamper proof. Well, it didn’t take long for a criminal with a laptop to work that one out.
 
Back in 2000 the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) said that they can ‘eradicate this problem once and for all’. Logging the miles at every service, MOT and body shop pit stop as the RMI has suggested helped, but the participating dealers approach is flawed if a significant majority do not participate, or join the RMI. So the problem is still here and is apparently at an all time high.
 
A radical one-point plan is simply, do nothing. Simply rename the odometer, or mileometer as the service interval indicator. That means when you go and buy a car look a little further than the row of digits. Concentrate on the condition. After all, that’s what you’d do if you bought a few hundred quid banger or a classic car where the mileage is universally regarded as academic anyway. Use commonsense, an inspection company or buy from a dealer with as much protection as possible.
 
Of course a genuine mileage is nice, but only if accompanied by a full service history. At least you know where it has been worked on and what’s been done. Mind you the history has to be genuine. As regular as clocking horror stories are dodgy dealers with access to service books and official looking stamps. Mythical mileages and made up histories go together. The trouble is that we are obsessed by low mileage used cars in this country.
 
What you can do though is use your commonsense. Does the mileage seem unusually low compared with the condition or year? Go online and look at any MOT history, as there will be a record of the mileage at each test. If possible contact previous owners and selling dealers if you find that information n the vehicle paperwork. Carry out a data check, companies like HPI will be able to highlight any mileage discrepancy. 
 
For the moment though, ‘How many miles has it done?’
‘That doesn’t really matter because you’ve been done, sir/madam.’

Further Reading

How to check a used car

Top diesel car buying tips

The top five benefits of servicing your classic car

 

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