Friday, December 2

What Does the VIN Number of a Car Tells You?

What Does the VIN Number of a Car Tells You?

Is everything you need to know about a vehicle encoded in one number? Yes, it is. The VIN number tells everything about your vehicle.

The VIN of your vehicle is just as important to the car as your Social Security Number is to you as a person. If you want to learn about titles, liens, maintenance records, and recalls of a vehicle, use the VIN. This is the number used to track the vehicle history and give you all of the information you need.

Where is Your VIN and How Long Is It?

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your vehicle is 17 digits long. If you have a VIN that’s shorter, that means your vehicle was made before 1981, which was the year the change to 17 digits was put in place. Prior to 1981, VIN length was between 11 and 17 digits. The number is a series of numbers and letters which provide much of the information needed to understand what your vehicle included when it was first built.

These numbers are located in a few places. The most common location of the VIN is on the lower part of the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle. This number is visible when looking through the windshield from the outside. This location offers visibility to this identification and protection from being damaged or covered in dirt.
Other places you’ll find the VIN number are:

  • Inside the driver’s side door on the rear side of the door frame
  • On the front of the engine block
  • Under the spare tire

As you can figure out, these secondary locations can be hard to see, especially on the front of the engine block.

Do Other Vehicles Also Carry the Same Identification?

Yes, utility trailers, campers, and boat trailers also have similar identification numbers to ensure they can be registered and tracked the same as your vehicle. RVs are treated similarly to your passenger vehicles, with the VIN located in the same places as your car. On trailers, the VIN is often on the side of the trailer hitch and stamped on a piece of metal that’s attached with rivets. If you want to make the VIN more permanent, use an etching tool and engrave it into a place on the hitch tongue.

What Does the VIN Mean?

Once you’ve found your VIN number, which should also be on the vehicle title, registration card, and insurance documents, it might be important for you to understand how to decode the number. This number is unique and significant to your vehicle. The string of numbers and letters is broken down to tell you:

  • Digit 1: Location the vehicle was built
  • Digits 2-3: The manufacturing company
  • Digits 4-8: Type and size of the engine
  • Digit 9: Manufacturer security code
  • Digit 10: Model year
  • Digit 11: Manufacturing plant
  • Digit 12-17: Vehicle serial number

With the number broken down this way, you can see how a vehicle and everything it’s built with can be tracked. Using the final six digits of a VIN, you can learn what a vehicle should have, including all of its features.

When Do You Need to Use the VIN?

Its Required to Register Your Vehicle

When you head to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office, you’ll need your VIN number. This number shows up on the registration card and tells the person registering your vehicle all they need to know. They can look up whether or not there’s a lien on your vehicle, its assumed value for tax purposes, and who holds the title to your car. Your VIN shows up on the registration card, which you should keep in your vehicle at all times.

Your Insurance Company Needs Your VIN

Much the same as the DMV, your insurance company will use your VIN to check specific vehicle information. They offer insurance rates based on many factors, and one of those is what type of vehicle you have. This identifier gives the insurance company what they need to know before putting a value on your vehicle and offering you the car insurance you require.

When You Have Your Vehicle Serviced Insist They Use the VIN

Most auto service locations will use the VIN when providing service to your vehicle, which helps you. If you keep your vehicle serviced properly, there won’t be any issue when you want to sell it. At some service locations, you’ll need to insist they use the VIN as a record of that service being performed. It’s a good idea to keep your service records and receipts to show the next owner when you want to sell your car.

You Need your VIN to Lookup Recalls

Has a recall been issued on your vehicle? Use your VIN number to find out. Are you thinking about buying a particular car? Check the VIN to find out if there are any recalls that you need to be concerned about. A VIN lookup is one of the most important parts of buying a used vehicle. This report can tell you the maintenance history, accident history, if the vehicle has ever been reported to be a salvage vehicle, or if everything checks out properly. You’ll also find out if there are any current liens against the vehicle, which is extremely important.

Why Should You Know About Liens Against the Vehicle?

If you buy a new car, you won’t have much to worry about, but if you buy a used car, you should perform a complete VIN check. Even if the owner is holding a title in their hand, there might be a lien against the vehicle. Some people will use their car to secure a loan and retain the title. When you buy a used car with a lien, you’ll be responsible for clearing the lien before you can receive a clear title. This is a situation you want to avoid when buying a car.

Now that you know a bit more about what your VIN number can tell you and how it’s used, you can be better informed and more competent when buying your next vehicle or going to your local service station.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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