The Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) has called for regulation to be introduced to bring about a much higher level of control to the mileage adjustment sector.

The VRA said it was hearing from its members that clocking was becoming an increasingly prevalent problem for them.

The rise of finance was once again at least partly blamed for the rise in clocking, with mileage limits incentivising consumers to lower vehicle mileages.

Glenn Sturley, chair at the VRA, said: “With the growth in PCPs over the last few years, many of them predicated on headline rates that are based on low annual mileage, there is undoubtedly a demand in the market for less-than-scrupulous adjusters to wind back the clock.

“We hear some fairly horrific stories from our members and are coming across them with increasing frequency, not just cases of people taking a few thousand miles off so that they don’t have to pay excess charges but lease cars being used as minicabs, clocking up galactic mileages in a short space of time and then being wound back massively.

“This is an area that is unregulated and crying out for some degree of control. At the end of the day, this is an issue of safety and of fraud. It needs to be taken more seriously. A car that has clocked up a huge mileage with minimal maintenance and then been wound back is a potential hazard on the road.”

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The issue is compounded by the relative ease with which a car can be clocked, and Sturley noted that all it required was a laptop and some inexpensive digital tools.

In comparison, the technology required to check cars for mileage adjustment is expensive and time consuming, and not all auction houses have access to it.

He said: “Processing a vehicle to check for adjustment can easily take half an hour. If you are handling hundreds or thousands or vehicles in a day, as some of our members do, carrying out this kind of audit is quite impractical.

“Our view is that the issue is much better dealt with at source by introducing perhaps a system of licencing for anyone who sets themselves up as a mileage adjuster or by closer control of the sale of the equipment involved. At the end of the day, there are very few legitimate reasons for adjusting mileage.

“We would very much like to hear the views of other voices across the industry to hear about ways to tackle this problem.”