The Car-Pass law is 20 years old

The Car-Pass law is 20 years old

As its name suggests, the law aimed to curb fraudulent reversal of the odometer reading when selling used vehicles. This evil practice was widespread 20 years ago. It was estimated that 60 to 100,000 vehicles annually underwent a ‘rejuvenation cure’. This was obviously a problem for private buyers who overpaid for the used car of their dreams, and often faced high unexpected repair costs afterwards. This was not good news for the car industry either: their image suffered and it created unfair competition. Therefore, all actors involved, the automotive federations, the automobile clubs and the car inspection companies, sat around the table with the federal government. This resulted in the law of 11 June 2004 and the creation of the non-profit organisation Car-Pass in March 2006.

The law obliged companies in the car sector to report the odometer reading of the vehicles on which they carried out works to the central database of the non-profit-making organisation Car-Pass. Anyone selling a used vehicle (car and light van) is obliged, on pain of nullity of the sale, to hand the buyer a so-called Car-Pass, showing the odometer history. The buyer can thus ascertain the accuracy of the odometer reading. The first Car-Pass was delivered on 1 December 2006.

Michel Peelman, managing director of Car-Pass asbl, confirms: “Over all these years, Car-Pass has collected 310 million odometer readings from 26.5 million vehicles. This simple but efficient model has resulted in odometer fraud in Belgium being virtually non-existent. It now involves only about 1,500 cases a year. The success is mainly due to the unique form of public-private cooperation. The government lays down the rules and leaves the practical implementation to a non-profit organisation set up by the car industry itself. This has undoubtedly also ensured broad support within the sector.”

The low Belgian fraud rate is in clear contrast to the situation in other European Union countries. A European Parliament study in 2018 estimated that such fraud costs citizens €8.9 billion annually. Hence the call to our newly elected MEPs to quickly bring this issue back to the attention of the Commission.

Recent news