Since 1981, every vehicle in the United States has been given an identifier during production. Known as VIN, it reveals a ton of information about the past and present of any car, ATV, RV, or motorbike. If you are in the market for a used vehicle, you cannot make a truly informed decision without a VIN check. Here is how it works.
What Does A VIN Reveal?
Information about all vehicles and their owners is stored in DMV databases. Dedicated websites like FAX-VIN give access to this data. For example, you can decode the number to establish the true specs, or order a thorough inquiry into the past. A history report will show any accidents, repossessions, damage, theft and other events affecting the price and safety.
What Does the Number Look Like?
This is a sequence of 17 characters, letters, and numerals. For the sake of clarity, it never includes Q, O, and I, which are easily confused with numbers. All codes since 1981 follow the same structure:
Position 1: the country where the vehicle was produced;
Position 2: the manufacturer of the vehicle;
Position 3: the code of the vehicle;
Positions 4-8: engine size, type, and model;
Position 9: confirmation sign of the manufacturer;
Position 10: the year of production;
Position 11: the factory;
Positions 12-17: the serial number.
Where to Find the Number
There is no universal standard regarding the location of the code. You can find it on different non-removable elements. For instance, Toyota usually chooses the door jamb on the driver’s side or the dashboard. You need to check that the number matches the code in any papers related to the vehicle. In case of inconsistencies, avoid making the purchase.
How to Run a Check Online
The easiest way to check the background is by entering the VIN on a dedicated site. Decoding takes seconds. You will discover the real design and specs to see what equipment has been added or modified.
For more in-depth analysis, get a history report. This service provides a wealth of information regarding any events in the life of the vehicle. You will find out:
- If it has been involved in any accidents,
- If it has ever been stolen and recovered;
- if there have been any recalls or defects detected,
- what odometer readings were reported,
- if the vehicle has been damaged by harsh weather or fire, etc.
A VIN check can prevent a lot of problems. You will see if the purchase is worth every dollar and if the seller is trustworthy. You may also find how many owners the vehicle had, and in which states it was registered.
Without a VIN check, you risk buying a vehicle with a shady past. Run an online check to ensure safety. If the results are at odds with what the seller says, cancel the deal.