Curb on the car clocking cheats

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT is to keep a database of annual car mileages in an attempt to eliminate the illegal practice of "clocking" in which dubious dealers wind back odometers to increase the sale value.

In a Bill passing through Parliament, garages will be obliged to record a car's mileage when it comes in for an MoT test. This will then be passed on to the DVLA, the Government's driving licence agency, which is being given the power to set up a computerised database.

In a separate move, a voluntary system of recording the mileage when a car is sold would be made mandatory. Potential purchasers would then be able to access a computerised record of the car's mileage, which would highlight any unusual patterns.

The measures pick up recommendations made in an Office of Fair Trading report in October 1997. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said its plans were contained in the Road Traffic (Vehicle Testing) Bill. The Bill is not part of the Government's legislative programme but a department spokesman said it would be picked up by a backbencher and get ministerial support.

"We are planning to make recorded mileage and MoT tests available to consumers as part of the MoT computerisation project. There are plans to make that information available to consumers," he said.

The issue has created a turf war with the Department of Trade and Industry, which is also pushing the measures as part of its aim to empower consumers against retail abuses. The DTI says it is keen on the idea and believes a reliable system of recording mileage is an important measure in supporting the used car market. A DTI spokesman said: "We think reliable mileage recording has a significant role to play in increasing consumer confidence."