AA Warns Car Buyers Of New Mileage “Lowballing” Scam

When buying a car many motorists will look at how many miles the car has driven in order to understand its current condition. However, while most will view a higher mileage as a bad sign the AA is warning that low mileage may not always be a good thing, after coming across a number of incidents of clocked mileage recently as part of its Car Inspections service.

Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office highlighted a 47% year-on-year increase in the number of cars being imported into Ireland from the UK. However, the AA, which offers inspections to customers in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland highlighted that while the lower price tag may be tempting for motorists these imported vehicles may come with added complications, as mileage discrepancies in cars imported from the UK appear to be on the rise.

In 2015, research from Cartell.ie indicated that 14.5% of UK cars imported into Ireland had had their mileage altered in some way. However, recent reviews of small sample groups that the 2015 report indicate this figure has increased to 16.5% in respect to UK cars currently on Irish roads.

While clocking of cars may not be new, the AA’s Car Inspection technicians have found evidence of a new technique being used by some unscrupulous traders who are now deliberately lowering mileage twice on cars they’re selling, as this is harder to detect than simply reducing the mileage.

Originally the mileage is lowered significantly before the car is taken for an NCT or MOT in the case of UK cars, before being increased to a more believable but still drastically reduced level before sale.

“During one recent inspection, where a customer was interested in buying a 3-year old car with 30,000 miles previously registered in the UK a background check found that the car’s mileage had been recorded as 18,000 miles during its first MOT (the UK equivalent of the NCT) 90 days earlier,” Joe Langan of AA Car Inspectionsstated.

“So we were expected to believe that this car had taken nearly 3 years to do 18,000 miles – and then driven over 130 miles per day for the last three months.  This just does not add up – we suspect someone had decided to turn back the mileage on this car – perhaps dropping it from 60,000 miles – but decided to ‘lowball’ it first, down to 18,000 miles, ensure a low base mileage was recorded during the first MOT, from which they could then adjust the mileage to something more realistic when selling it on.”

Since only a higher mileage in the past produces a mileage alert, traders are then free to do this and give themselves a bit of leeway if they decide to bring it back up to something more realistic.

“While it can be easy to think that you may have snagged a bargain, sometimes a good deal is simply too good to be true,” AA Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan added. “Before buying any car it’s important to have it checked out by your mechanic or arrange an AA Car Inspection as it’s only during this step that doctored mileage or hidden damage to the car is likely to be detected.

A 2011 report from The AA found that 11% of UK imports had had their mileage doctored in some way. As a result, unexpected servicing and repair costs could negate any savings to be made by importing a car.

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