Friday, 14 January, 2022

Used cars: a national registry to put an end to rejuvenated speedometers

Since January 2019, individuals considering the purchase of a used vehicle are invited to consult its history free of charge on the Histovec website, designed by the Ministry of the Interior. This database makes it possible to know how many successive owners, on what dates the changes of hands took place, and if major claims gave rise to a “repair checked by an automobile expert”. What to do a first sorting.

Alas! This database sits on the vehicle registration system (VMS) does not include any statement of mileage evolution, information however recorded during each technical inspection deadline. In its current form, the free Histovec certificate therefore provides only relative help in the fight against the manipulation of meters. This type of fraud often has serious consequences for the wallet as well as for the security of the buyer.

The Histovec certificate would gain new strength by enriching itself with the history of mileage readings

The solution is no secret: it has been in use since 2006 in Belgium and guarantees transaction security unknown to the French. Whether private or professional, the seller of a car registered in Belgium is required to submit a document entitled Car-Pass, which certifies the mileage history. This crucial fact

is recorded during each visit to a maintenance professional. It does not matter whether it is a technical control center or a mechanic, a bodybuilder or a specialist in tires and rapid maintenance, a dealer or a small garage. : nobody breaks this obligation in Belgium.

In view of the services rendered, the cost of the Car-Pass (alias “Odometer certificate”) seems derisory: 8.80 euros for a sheet of paper secured by hologram. The document is delivered with a code valid for two months which allows connection to the Car-Pass site and direct access to the data on the national server. Better, the owner of a vehicle can on his own initiative request the rectification of the certificate if he considers that it contains an upward or downward error. All they need to do is complete a form available online. The French legislator will have to ensure to provide for a similar mechanism, if it wants to inevitable human errors.

Sharing mileage records with border countries would help fight fraud

Without an authentic Car-Pass, the sale is not valid and the buyer can claim a full refund of the sums paid. Consequently, the buyer is required to sign a receipt in exchange for the Car-Pass. However, it is precisely this formalism that the Senator of Vienne Alain Fouché would like to see introduced in France, for the benefit of the individual buyer. This elected official deposited on January 29, 2020 a bill “tending to secure the sale of used motor vehicles”, signed by about fifty other Senators.

The proposed recipe is simple: on the one hand, guarantee the traceability of vehicles by establishing the obligation for automotive professionals to enter the mileage displayed on the odometer in a national register; on the other hand, inform the consumer by obliging the seller (professional or not) to provide a certificate and a complete history at the time of the sale.

Establishing a standard sales contract would encourage sellers to reveal all the weaknesses of their car, even if it means lowering the price.

In addition to an improved Histovec certificate, Senator Alain Fouché relaunched the idea of ​​a standard sales contract which had motivated his bill in 2015. The objective, then, was already to fight against the epidemic of meters rejuvenated which took on an unprecedented scale in France. Things have hardly improved since: according to the European Commission and the association “40 Millions d’Automobilistes”, second-hand buyers would henceforth have one in two chance of finding a tampered meter.

This is why Senator Fouché would like to convince the French of the benefits of a standard sales contract, both for the seller and for the buyer. This free document would complement the transfer certificate signed by both parties, which is satisfied with the minimum: the identity of the parties is shown, but not the mileage of the vehicle, even less its condition or the amount of the transaction. In 2015, Senator Alain Fouché deplored this poverty which “places on the buyer the burden of providing proof of the existence of the hidden defect or mileage fraud.”

The seller who refuses to fulfill the sales contract would immediately become suspect in the eyes of the buyer

Just the mention of the transaction price would make it possible to smooth out many of the difficulties encountered by the parties in the event of discovery of a hidden defect. Because a ostensibly lower than the average transaction price found on the market suggests that the seller and the buyer were aware of a serious defect, justifying a downward revision of the price.

This is not the only beneficial effect of the sales contract. The fact of having completed a document under private signature tends to put the parties in a better position and encourages conciliation. This is all time and legal costs saved. Upstream, the hope is squarely to discourage unscrupulous sellers. Those who refused to provide the information requested by the buyer would immediately be considered suspect. In a market where each transaction would be secured by a written contract, the seller who would be stingy in information would inevitably be condemned to revise his price downwards. A virtuous circle, in short.