Your car, just like every other car, has a unique vehicle identification number, (VIN). And before you make any purchase, especially a used vehicle, VIN is one of the things you must check.
The VIN of a car is more like the vehicle’s fingerprints. Not only does it give identity to the car, it also monitors the history of the car and provides you with all the details you need to know about the car.
If you plan on getting a car for yourself, VIN is one thing you don’t want to joke with. Hence, we will talk about VIN, and why it is so important to you, as a car owner.
What Is a Vehicle Identification Number?
A VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a 17-digit number stamped into the chassis of a car that serves as the car’s unique identity code. It contains 17 alphanumeric characters that simply act as an identifier to the car.
There are over a billion cars in the world but no two cars have the same VIN. It tells you the uniqueness and importance of this number. It is essential because it is unique to the car and, unlike registration numbers and other codes, VIN cannot be changed. It’s the feature that separates your car from several cars out there.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) reduces the risk factor of buying a used vehicle by providing missing vital data about its history.
Moreso, it can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage of cars.
Why Are VINs So Important?
We said earlier that VIN is more like the fingerprint of the car. And as such, it’s a proven way to keep a record of what happens to your car.
If a car gets involved in a crash, the frequency of accidents, how often the car has been bought or sold, or even details about oil change, tyre replacement, brake checks, and more are all recorded on the car’s VIN. One can also find the owner of a vehicle by vin number.
It’s key to unlocking every past event of your car. This comes in so handy when you’re buying a used car. It provides you with an idea of the vehicle’s history. You know if it was stolen or not, where it was used before shipping to your country of residence. In fact, not checking a used car’s VIN before purchasing is a quick way to land yourself in trouble.
Also, VINs provide you with the manufacturer details of the car. That includes information about the year of production, the country it was produced, and full details of the manufacturer.
A VIN check can also reveal if the car’s odometer has ever been rolled back, or if it has flipped (reached the maximum miles on the gauge and rolled back over to zero).
Where Can I Find The VIN Code?
The VIN is engraved into the chassis of a vehicle, which is usually found in the engine bay or beneath the plastic trim around the driver or passenger door opening.
Although some manufacturers do repeat the VIN in some other areas of the vehicle, the easiest way to see your VIN is to stand outside the car close to the driver’s side and look at their corner where your dashboard meets the windshield.
If you don’t see the VIN there, open the door on the driver’s side and look where it latches when it is closed.
However, before buying a car check the VIN in more than one place and ensure the numbers tally. That’s because when selling a stolen car, thieves often cut off the VIN and replace it with a fake one!
How To Decode A VIN
A VIN consists of 17 alpha-numeric characters. Below is a breakdown of what they all represent.
- The first three characters, which are usually a number followed by two letters, are called World Manufacturer Identifiers (WMI). These identifiers (WMI) are assigned by The Society of Automotive Engineers to manufacturers and countries.
- The number specifies where a car was made, the letters indicate the manufacturer’s name.
- The following five characters are the Vehicle Descriptor Sector (VDS), which simply describes the vehicle types. Every manufacturer has a system of VDS. VDS describes the model, engine type, number of doors, body style, and lots more.
- The next character, which is the 9th, is a code the manufacturer generates to validate the authenticity of the whole numbers. It could either be an alphabet or a number.
- The last eight characters, usually numbers, are called the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS). The VIS is a distinct serial number to identify the actual vehicle. That’s what confers uniqueness to it. The VIS reveals details about the year of production down to the manufacturing equipment.
The importance of VIN cannot be overemphasized. It saves you a lot of stress and problems that could arise later.
More importantly, be very meticulous about it. Carefully confirm that the printed VIN on the vehicle’s registration document matches with the number engraved into the vehicle’s chassis and every other place in the car. If they are not the same, that’s a red flag.