Car clocking: MEPs call for new legislation to combat odometer fraud

Car Clocking 2018

Fleet of new cars ready for shipment. © European Communities , 2010 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: S Solal.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

To tackle used car odometer fraud more effectively, the EU Commission should propose new legislation within twelve months, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday.

“About 5 to 12 percent of used cars sold inside EU countries and 30 to 50 percent of those  sold across borders within the EU  have been clocked,  said rapporteur Ismail Ertug (S&D, DE). “We had broad agreement on this report and in particular on the need for national odometer databases with cross-border data exchange and for manufacturers to step up their efforts on odometer security.”

“If the EU Commission turns our recommendations into draft laws, it could provide an annual benefit of six to nine billion euros and restore consumers’ trust in the used  car market, while also contributing to road safety. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate true European added value by protecting consumers”, he added.

MEPs want a new set of rules that includes national mileage data registers, to be made accessible across borders. Buyers of a used car should be able to verify the accuracy of its odometer reading, regardless of the EU country in which it was previously registered, they add.

Register mileage data more often to detect fraud

Recording odometer readings should be mandatory at each periodic technical inspection, each inspection, service, maintenance operation and repair carried out, and at every other garage visit, starting with the vehicle’s first registration, MEPs say.

They point out that Belgium and the Netherlands,   where readings are collected more frequently than elsewhere, odometer fraud has been almost eradicated.

Further effort from the car industry

MEPs also ask the EU Commission to monitor how manufacturers give effect to the tamper-protection strategies required by current EU rules and to set clear criteria for effectively checking that odometers are tamper-proof.

Clocking should be made a criminal offence

Even though tampering has a negative impact on road safety, only six EU countries recognise “odometer manipulation” as a criminal offence, MEPs say, and call on all EU countries to do so.

Next steps

Following the adoption of the legislative initiative resolution in the European Parliament today (577 votes in favour, 32 against, 19 abstentions), the EU Commission will have to table a legislative proposal or justify why it has not done so.

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