James Ruppert: how to avoid odometer fraud

Volvo S40

A diesel engined Volvo S40 should just run and run

There are less likely to be lies in a mega-mileage motor’s odometer

Clocking: that’s what it used to be called in the old days.

I suppose the term implied that it was being carried out by a loveable Arthur Daley character, when in fact it should have more accurately been describe as mileage fraud.

Whatever we call it these days, there is evidence that the practise is as prevalent as ever, despite our cars containing more advanced technology. According to Carly Connected Car, which deals in mobile car electronics, at least 18% of all vehicles in London are displaying an incorrect mileage. That’s 3% above the national average and equates to almost five million vehicles in total. The capital, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds are the top four UK regions for mileage fraud.

Essentially, the message here seems to be to avoid searching for your next used car bargain in those nasty cities where you could be taken for a ride by sharp-talking wide boys – and they will be boys, or at least men who should know better.

One of the tactics we can employ to put these unscrupulous types out of business is to embrace those cars with odometer readings so high that there is nothing to be gained by clocking them. A used motor witha starship mileage on its clock isn’t going to shoot up in value if a rogue dealer plugs in a laptop and wipes away a few thousand miles.

So what can we find with more than 200,000 miles on the clock? A quick search on the interweb throws up a glut of contenders.

We’re told that diesels are awful things, but the flip side to that argument is that they go on and on. A 2007 Volvo S40 2.0TD with 211,000 miles is still with us and up for sale at just under a grand.

If that is a bit too saloony for you, then a VW Golf is a very solid alternative. A 2004 2.0 TDI GT with an epic 240,000 miles is up for a solid £1250. A BMW is always going to be a class purchase and an 07-plate 320d SE without any issues and 220,000 miles on the odometer is a good choice at £1500.

Cheap cars are easy, but you need nerves of steel to invest in the real heavy metal high-milers. With that in mind, a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI with BlueEfficiency attachments and Avantgarde appointments is £5495. Yes, that is good value, but it also has a whopping 290,000 miles.

There are plenty of Volkswagen Transporters and Toyota Land Cruisers with epic mileages. A 2009 Lexus LS 600h luxo-barge (above) with 250,000 miles at £10,950 is tempting.

When in doubt, then, buy a used car with a big odometer reading.

What we almost bought this week: 

HONDA FR-V – The clever MPV offers generous equipment, comfort and a pretty decent drive in a pleasing shape. You get three seats up front as well as three in the back and the seats flip, fold and slide, offering plenty of flexibility. The FR-V is almost in bargain bin territory now, with decent ones starting at less than £2000. Pick one of the smooth petrol engines.

Find a used Honda FR-V for sale on PistonHeads

Tales from Ruppert’s garage: 

BMW 320, Mileage: 80,421 – My most recent attempt to get a car through its MOT did not go according to plan. The Baby Shark failed on two items: a rusty sill and a sticky rear fog lamp switch.

I booked it in for the patch work on the sill. I expected to find a rather ugly sight when the repair job had been done, but it was well hidden.

The MOT rules are moving at a pace and because this is a pre- 1980 vehicle, it doesn’t actually need a rear fog light, so that fail was scrubbed. My 1970s road show rolls on for another year.

A-Z bangerpedia: 

Nissan Primera: Older versions found favour with minicab drivers, but the third-generation Primera that went on sale in 2001 was technologically advanced for its day. On the motorway it is quiet and the suspension soaks up uneven road surfaces adeptly.

Find a Nissan Primera for sale on PistonHeads

The interior is just as radical and has an impressive, stylish and usable layout. Front and rear occupants have a decent amount of room to get comfortable.

Just £500 gets you a 2002 2.0 SVE with a reversing camera and sat-nav.

Readers’ questions:

Q. My elderly mother’s 20-year-old Ford Fiesta has just been condemned by the MOT tester. She can afford £5000 to spend on a replacement and would like something with high seats. What would you recommend? Marianne Lees, Stockport

A. Another Fiesta sounds like just the thing. She’ll be able to buy a seventh-generation model for that money. They are great to drive, very comfortable and cheap to buy and run. Alternatives to the Ford hatchback include the Honda Jazz and the Nissan Note. AR

Q. I’m thinking about buying a diesel Audi TT, because I want a coupé but need to do lots of motorway miles. Could you suggest any alternatives? Robert Macaulay, via email

A. The Volkswagen Scirocco also comes with a diesel and it’s cheaper to buy than the TT. You could also have a look at the Honda CR-Z, although the hybrid petrol- electric powertrain could actually prove to be less efficient on your long motorway journeys. AR

Read more 

Ford Fiesta review 

Nissan Note review 

Toyota Land Cruiser review

Source: Autocar Online

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