1 in 3 have a hidden history
1 in 7 are insurance write-offs
What could your car
be hiding?

Cloning and Ringing



You may have seen us mention cloning and ringing on previous pages, but what do these terms actually mean? Both are a blight on the used car market in the UK, and make getting a proper vehicle history check even more important. Always check the documentation that comes with a used car, and make sure the information matches up with the VRM (Vehicle Registration Mark) and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the actual vehicle you're thinking of buying. Many of the unscrupulous dealers and private sellers who attempt to pass on cloned vehicles are seriously adept at the practise, and it is often difficult to spot such an illegal vehicle. Don't be rushed into things, and always check that information matches up. If something seems amiss, or you feel you are being pushed into a deal, make your suspicions known and ask for explanations. If the seller cannot put your mind at rest, walk away, and perhaps inform the authorities if you think something dodgy is going on.

A cloned carWhat is a Cloned Car?

A cloned car is quite simply a stolen car that has been 'cleaned'. This means that the markings used to identify it (number plate, VIN, and in some cases the engine number) have been removed or disguised, and the seller attempts to pass the vehicle off as another similar car with the same specifications. The cloned car is given the number plate (either stolen or faked) of the legitimate car to make it look like the real deal. Most cloned vehicles will have little paperwork with them, or in some cases forged V5C document may be supplied, and in some cases the criminal seller attempts to get a replacement V5C directly from the DVLA using some excuse. You should always scrutinise all paperwork that comes with a used car, and if indeed such documentation is lacking, you should ask the seller why this is so.

What is a Ringer?

A ringer is similar to a cloned car; a stolen vehicle is altered and has it's identity swapped with another car, but this time from one that has been scrapped or claimed as salvage. Criminals will trawl the salvage yard for vehicles similar to one that has been stolen, or in many cases a car is stolen to order to match a scrapped one that the rogue trader has access to. The scrapped car is bought from the salvage yard, and is then stripped for identifying parts and components. The areas where the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) has been stamped into the chassis are cut out, as are the engine number and any VIN plate. The vehicle's number plate may be plundered too, otherwise a fake replacement can be made. These components are then used to cover up such identification on the stolen vehicle, so in essence it now has the identity of the vehicle that was scrapped.

Edmunds Developer Network