National Mileage Register explained

August 02, 2023 by

The National Mileage Register helps determine a car’s true mileage; we explain all

Many things affect the value of a used car, including its age, condition, and mileage.

But while a car’s age is pretty easy to work out and hard to hide, and in most circumstances its condition should be self evident, a mileage discrepancy can be harder to spot, not least because the primary source for its mileage – the odometer – can be falsified to read a lower mileage than the car has really covered, potentially fraudulently inflating its value.

Enter the National Mileage Register (NMR), which is a database that can help detect if a car has had its odometer fiddled with (meaning the car has been ‘clocked’). This guide will explain all about the NMR.  You can also also check the mileage and history of a car with Carwow’s car history checker.

What is the National Mileage Register?

The National Mileage Register is a database run by a company called HPI. This firm also runs car history checks that tell you if a car has been subject to an insurance claim, has outstanding finance against it, or has been reported as stolen, amongst other things – although other vehicle-history-check companies are available.

The NMR collates mileage data from a variety of sources, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and vehicle leasing companies, to determine a car’s true mileage.

How does the National Mileage Register work?

The National Mileage Register steps into action if a potential mileage discrepancy is identified with a car, or possibly if a car with unusually low mileage is being sold.

A dealer buying a car may approach NMR and ask it to conduct checks into its mileage history.

NMR will then conduct a number of checks, including potentially contacting the car’s previous owners asking them what mileage the car had when they parted ways with it.

This is possible because the National Mileage Register has an official agreement with DVLA allowing them, when necessary, to access all previous registered keepers of a car in order to contact them and ascertain the car’s mileage history.

If you receive such a letter you should be directed to the NMR website, where you will be asked to enter the vehicle’s registration and the reference number from the letter, after which you will be asked for the mileage.

Can I check a car’s mileage using the National Mileage Register?

The NMR is aimed at companies that work in the motor trade, including dealers, leasing companies and retailers.

A vehicle history check can help you investigate a car’s mileage, but these tend to cost money, so you may only want to conduct one of these for a car you’re seriously considering buying, rather than one you’d just like a little more information on.

Fortunately, the Government’s free online MOT history checker can give you a rough idea of whether a car is likely to have a mileage discrepancy, as this will show what its odometer read at the last MOT check. If, for example, you’re looking at a car that’s being advertised as having 60,000 miles but it was recorded as being on 85,000 miles at its last MOT, this gives an indication that there may be something amiss.

What does it mean if a car has a mileage discrepancy?

Simply put, it means that the mileage displayed on a car’s odometer doesn’t, or potentially doesn’t, tally with some other source for its mileage – such as its MOT history, DVLA records (there’s an option to tell the DVLA a car’s mileage when you sell it), or some other source.

Should I buy a car with a mileage discrepancy?

In general terms, we would urge extreme caution if buying a car with a mileage discrepancy, for a number of reasons.

First, as previously stated, a car with a lower mileage will be worth more than a like-for-like vehicle that has covered a greater distance, leaving you potentially paying more than the car is worth.

Second, if someone has clocked a car, there will undoubtedly be other questions about its provenance: can you trust that the service history it has is legitimate, for instance? Do you know it hasn’t been poorly repaired after an accident that doesn’t show up on a history check as an insurance company was not involved?

There are some rare circumstances where a car may legitimately have a mileage discrepancy, notably if the odometer or dashboard binnacle has had to be replaced, or if a tester entered an incorrect reading when the car was being put through its MOT. The first of these should bring with it total transparency from the seller, as well as documentary evidence, while the second can be corrected as long as the DVLA is notified of the error within 28 days of it occurring.

In general, though, we would be wary of any car that is flagged as having a mileage discrepancy.

What if my car has a discrepancy on the National Mileage Register?

If a car you’ve just bought from a dealer has a discrepancy on the National Mileage Register, your first port of call should be a local branch of Trading Standards. If you bought the car privately, you’ll be better off going to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Tampering with a car’s mileage is a civil matter rather than a criminal one, so the police won’t get involved.

If your car has a mileage discrepancy on the NMR, but you think it’s an error, you’ll need to submit written evidence that it’s a mistake. This could be something like your car’s service or MOT history. You’ll have to send it to HPI, who will then evaluate the evidence and change any mistakes where appropriate.

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