Buying a Car?

Odometer clocking: how much can you lose?

Added 10 June 2021 by

Every deleted kilometre is worth up a few cents. This is how much you lose if you buy one of the popularly clocked models such as a Volkswagen Passat or Opel Astra. This may not be a lot of money but the calculation is simple: with every 100,000 km of clocked mileage, the car is sold at a few dozen thousand more than it’s actually worth.

Odometer clocking is still in fashion

It’ll soon be two years since the Polish law has changed to treat odometer clocking as a crime. If the odometer is clocked in order to sell the vehicle at a higher price, and not for reasons such as correction of a malfunction, then the maximum sentence is 5 years of prison (in Poland).

This register is accessible to everyone so long as they know the registration plate number, date of first registration, and the VIN number. Additionally, the Police have recently got this access. They are now able to check mileage during any routine control. All this has certainly made it more difficult to clock the odometer and make sure this remains a secret. Thus, a seller who does that now risks more than they would a few years ago.


Still, the law is not retroactive. Up until the end of May 2019 odometers could be clocked with no serious consequences. On top of that, vehicles that were recently registered in Poland don’t have a history of mileage readings since 2014. Mileage should grow together with vehicle use but how is the buyer supposed to check this? The way the vehicle was used abroad is, in many cases, a mystery. The odometer can be clocked right before the car is registered in Poland. There are still a number of such lemons in our country.


Lost value

How much money can you lose? According to the data gathered by autoDNA, it’s anything between a few to several hundred pounds per 100 000 km. 

The amount of money you can lose increases proportionally to the age of the vehicle. In popularly imported models to Poland such as a Volkswagen Passat and Audi A4 (model year 2014) it’s more than 28,000 PLN. For the same vehicles of model year 2008, the amounts are 8,400 and 9,600 PLN, respectively. Older vehicles have already gone through the biggest loss of value. The difference results from the kilometres you can “squeeze out” of the vehicle in the next few years of use. In general, the older the car, the bigger the mileage. For a car that is more than 10 years old, the odometer may be clocked by some 200 – 300,000 km. For a car that was only manufactured a few years ago, it’ll typically be some 100 – 150,000 km. So the loss of value may be comparable in both the cases.


How to check the mileage?

Only some countries such as Denmark and Sweden have mileage databases available to the public. In the case of a car from Denmark, all you need to check the mileage on their government’s website are the registration plate number and the VIN. For a vehicle which was registered in Sweden, all you need is to enter the registration plate number here.

In the case of other countries, it’s a good idea to see if autoDNA has access to the mileage records. autoDNA reports are based on billions of records regarding vehicle history, repairs, damage, inspections and mileage. All you need to see if the information is available is the VIN number. The report is a wise choice. It costs more or less as much as your average visit at a café but it can protect you from overpaying several dozen thousand pounds just because you didn’t know a car was clocked.


odometer infographic

Read autoDNA publication “Second hand car purchase roulette is over”

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Every deleted kilometre is worth up a few cents. This is how much you lose if you buy one of the popularly clocked models
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