HPI is warning convertible-loving used car buyers looking to bag themselves a bargain this summer, that this type of car is the most likely to be recorded by HPI as having a discrepant mileage reading – which could mean it’s been ‘clocked’ to reduce its true mileage.
“Clocking – otherwise known as illegitimately adjusting a vehicle’s mileage – has been used by fraudsters to boost the sticker price of a vehicle, but the act of clocking also hides the fact that the car is likely to have done considerably more miles than the driver realises,” warns Neil Hodson, Managing Director for HPI. “If vital components are excessively worn and not replaced as recommended by the manufacturer, that vehicle could be a real danger to the driver and other road users.”
Analysis of HPI’s history checks in 2014* also reveals that not only do convertible cars more frequently have a discrepant mileage, but half will have had a personalised number plate transferred to the car, 1 in 5 will have outstanding finance owing against it, and it’s the 3rd most likely type of car to be recorded as an insurance write-off; family cars and super minis are more commonly written off than convertible cars.
“It’s easy to be swept up in the romance of driving along country lanes with the roof down, but used car buyers need to make sure their cash isn’t wasted on a vehicle with something to hide. The majority of people will personalise their car with a cherished or personalised number plate, particularly people driving prestige or desirable cars, such as convertibles, and this is innocent enough. However, be warned, a personal number plate could be hiding the fact it is a stolen or cloned car. If you buy a car with outstanding finance against it, you could face losing the car and the money you paid for it. And the dangers of driving a written off car that hasn’t been professionally repaired and shouldn’t be on the roads doesn’t bear thinking about – particularly convertible cars which have unique safety and mechanical challenges.”
It is crucial that used car buyers searching for a convertible consider the safety aspects of the vehicle. Most models will be built with a pop-up roll bar to protect passengers in the event of an accident. However, those buyers with smaller budgets should make sure they check with the buyer that air bags are included as the less expensive models don’t include airbags as standard – it’s an optional extra.
The HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings. HPI also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police, has outstanding finance against it or has been written-off, making it the best way for consumers to protect themselves from fraudsters looking to make a fast profit. In addition, the HPI Check offers a £30,000 Guarantee* in the event of the information it provides being inaccurate, offering added financial peace of mind to used car buyers.
HPI’s Tips for Buying a Convertible
1. Check the seal
Any type of convertible roof can be liable to leak after a time – even retractable hardtops. Test by spraying water over the roof, looking for any leaks. Aim at the points where the roof hits the windscreen and where glass hits the roof along the sides.
2. Look for tears in the canvas
If the roof is fabric, you should inspect it closely for tears on the canvas.
3. Speak to Local Dealer
To ascertain how much a new roof could cost you so that you know what you are facing should it needs replacing.
4. Check Carpets & Upholstery
Look for signs of mould or dampness on carpets and the upholstery as this could indicate flooding from a leaking roof.
5. Give it a go
Although it may seem obvious, but make sure you test how the retractable roof operates. Test the switch and check that the motor opens and closes the roof smoothly and quietly.
6. Boot Space
Some convertible roofs, particularly retractable hard tops which break down into two or three pieces in the boot, can take up significant space. Make sure you open the boot when the roof is down and be realistic – will it suffice?
7. Garage or Street Parking
Convertibles today are well insulated and all now come with a glass rear window instead of flimsy, scratch-prone plastic windows but still remain more susceptible to break-ins than hardtops so think about where you are going to park the car.
Check that the vehicle has air bags and that they are in good working order. Air bags are optional in some less expensive models.
9. Mechanical Maladies
A retractable roof can stop working and, as the car is generally more exposed to the elements, the operation of interior parts can be affected. An MOT is not evidence of a car’s condition so it is best get it checked professionally.
10. Check the history
Shiny convertibles aren’t immune from sellers trying to pass off a dodgy car as a bargain, in fact quite the opposite – the allure of buying a convertible can often blind buyers to problems with it. Make sure you check the history with HPI to be certain.