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How to check a car's mileage is genuine

Low mileage can be a selling point for a car or other vehicle. However, the clock can be turned back to reduce the number of miles shown and falsely increase the value of the car. This is known as clocking.

This page explains what you can to do check the mileage on a used car hasn’t been falsified.

Top tip

Be wary of dodgy dealers. If a dealer can’t show you what they have done to verify a car’s mileage, they may have cut other corners. Protect yourself by checking whether the dealer is a member of a trade association which has signed up to a code of practice.

Signs a car might have been clocked

There are some tell-tale signs that it might have been clocked. You should look out for these signs when you inspect a car:

  • the mileage is low but wear and tear looks heavy
  • the pedal rubbers, steering wheel or gear knob look newer than the rest of the car
  • the numbers on the odometer don’t line up correctly

How you can find out if the mileage is genuine?

If you suspect the mileage on a car is not genuine, or you just want peace of mind, there are several ways you can find out about the car’s mileage:

  • check MOT certificates and service documentation for mileage readings taken by mechanics
  • contact previous owners named on the V5 and ask what the mileage was when they sold the car
  • get mileage information through a history check
  • if buying from a dealer, ask whether the dealer has used trade-only database companies to check mileage.

What if a dealer says the mileage can’t be verified?

Car dealers sometimes try to protect themselves by covering up the odometer or issuing a disclaimer saying that the mileage may be wrong. If you later find out the mileage is incorrect you can’t make a claim against the dealer.

A dealer should not routinely do this and should take steps to verify the mileage of any car they sell. Ask what checks they have carried out on the car and what they have found out.

Buying at auction

If you buy a car at auction, you may see signs saying the mileage may be wrong. If these signs are clear and you then make a bid, you are agreeing to this. This means you would have no comeback if the mileage did turn out to be false.

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