Every vehicle in the United States has a unique identifier. This 17-character code is used to uncover the past and present of any car. If you are in the market for a second-hand vehicle, running a check is mandatory. Otherwise, you risk purchasing stolen property or running into other problems. Here is how the system works and how to make the most out of it.
The vehicle identification number is a sequence of 17 letters and digits. No two legit VINs are the same. If the number on the vehicle differs from the code in its documents, you are being manipulated. Steer clear of this purchase at all costs. A quick check on faxvin.com provides a plethora of information concerning the vehicle’s current specs and history.
How to Find Your Vehicle’s VIN Number
All manufacturers have adhered to the same structure of VINs since 1981. The characters include letters and numbers — 17 positions in total. For the sake of clarity, the codes do not include any I’s, O’s, or Q’s, as these letters can be easily mistaken for numbers. In terms of location, however, there is no single standard. VINs can be stamped on different non-removable parts.
The most common places are the dashboard and door on the driver’s side. Sometimes, VINs are imprinted on the engine block or under the spare tire. On a trailer, you should look at the hitch area. Most often, the codes are found in the interior, not the exterior. Outside, they may be easily damaged or scratched.
Unlike a license plate, a VIN may not be changed. It works like a Social Security number for vehicles. If the car has a shady past, you will easily see it.
Decoding a VIN
On all vehicles manufactured since 1981, the codes have an identical structure. Every position corresponds to a specific type of information. Here is the breakdown from left to right:
Position 1: Country of origin;
Positions 2-3: The manufacturer
Positions 4-8: Type and size of the engine;
Position 9: Manufacturer confirmation code;
Position 10: Model year;
Position 11: Manufacturing plant;
Positions 12-17: Serial number.
Check VIN for Any Used Vehicle
If you are shopping for a used vehicle, a VIN check is indispensable. You may decode the number to see the original specs or order a thorough report detailing its history. It will tell you about any accidents, repossessions, damage, and other negative events that can make you change your mind. If the seller is not being truthful about the vehicle, this is a red flag.
The third type of check is the owner lookup. By entering the VIN, you can see how many people or businesses have owned the vehicle, and in which states. You cannot see any names or addresses (these details are private), but the information is still valuable.