The Digital Odometer or mileage counter is a basic device used to record the distance that a car has traveled.
It is used in replacement of the old mechanical devices and is generally much more reliable.
Of course a mileage is important when considering buying a used car and I suppose you will be thinking that a digital odometer is less likely to have been tampered with. WRONG!
The digital odometer is controlled by the vehicle management system and it can be accessed with specialised computer equipment quite easily. And thus allowing any mileage to be recorded at will.
Why manufactures allow this to happen should be questioned.
The problem is that most cars are fleet owned, when registered new, and subsequently do a very high mileage. If you were a manufacturer which makes a tamperproof mileage reading, your used cars are going to depreciate more than your competitors. Then because generally nobody wants a high mileage car. This would mean that you would find it more difficult to sell your new cars due to poor residual values in the used market place.
In the late eighties BMW introduced the digital odometer to some of it's vehicles. This device was almost tamperproof that is to say that the chip which controlled the reading could not be turned back. BMW'S residual values had never been so bad.
Subsequently BMW sold lots of these mileage recording chips (it is doubtful that they will admit this). When the new chip was when connected to specialised equipment, the chip could be made to run forwards hence adding mileage to it. It's new zero setting could then be adjusted to an ideal 50,000 miles.
Lexus is currently the same selling their mileage chips for approximately £50-£80. The advantage of two chips on the Lexus is that they are easily interchangeable so two chips would half you mileage by swooping from time to time.
Surely it would make sense to make legislation to not permit sales of mileage recording devices without proper paperwork and then make all mileometers non adjustable. Boy oh boy! there would then be some very high mileage cars running around and we would all wonder why we previously would not consider a car with 90,000 miles and a full service history.
Unfortunately there is a very large percentage of cars in the UK which do not have a genuine mileage. And the general public does very little to verify a cars mileage before buying. This makes the procedure known as "clocking" very common and rewarding to those who do it because of the extra value low mileage makes. Even if the car is low mileage but without service history.
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