How Verify a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

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When you buy a car, one way it’s identified is through its vehicle identification number, or VIN. Your vehicle’s VIN is a unique number given to it by the manufacturer to help separate it from the millions of other vehicles out there. In fact, your vehicle’s VIN is the single most important part of its design, because while a vehicle’s parts can be repaired and replaced, its VIN stays with it forever.
Here’s more important info on your vehicle’s VIN, where it’s located, and the ways you can have it verified.

What Is a Vehicle Identification Number?

Your VIN serves multiple purposes other than just identification. Your VIN comes into play in a variety of circumstances, including tracking a vehicle’s history, which could play a part in whether or not you buy the vehicle. A vehicle’s history can show a lot, including:
  • The number of people who’ve owned the vehicle
  • The vehicle’s status, such as salvage or a lemon
  • Tracking recalls and repairs made to the vehicle
  • Any accidents that the vehicle has been in
  • If there are any current liens on the vehicle

Where Is the Vehicle Identification Number Located?

When looking for your VIN, there are a few places where you can find it. The most common place is on the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The VIN is located just under the windshield where the glass meets the dashboard and can be viewed by standing outside of the vehicle and looking down.
You can also find your vehicle’s VIN on the inside of the driver’s side door around where the latch is located on the inside doorjamb. In addition to these locations, your vehicle’s VIN can also be found on your insurance card or policy and on your vehicle title and registration.
The VIN is composed of 17 digits made up of alphanumeric characters and tells you where the vehicle was built, the manufacturer, engine type, model year, and the serial number of the car. Keep in mind that prior to 1981, VINs varied from 11 to 17 characters and information on these vehicles might be limited.

How to Get a Vehicle Identification Number Verified

Once you buy a car, you need to register it. With a new car, this process is easy because the dealership usually does all of the work for you. A used car, on the other hand, usually requires more direct involvement on your part.
Before registering a vehicle, you must first get its VIN verified. Fortunately, you’ve got a few options when doing so. Below are four ways you can get your vehicle’s VIN verified.
Verifying through the state: All states require you to verify your vehicle before selling it or registering it. To verify your vehicle’s VIN this way, take the vehicle and any paperwork to an accepted location, such as the DMV, police department, or licensed private VIN verifier, and pay any fees.
Car theft website: You can also verify your vehicle’s VIN through car theft websites, which can let you know if a vehicle has ever been reported as stolen. These websites are the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), which will also tell you if a vehicle has ever been reported as a total loss.
Car history website: You can also use a car history Website to check a vehicle’s history using its VIN. Some of the more popular car history websites include Carfax.com, Edmunds.com, and AutoCheck.com.
NHTSA recall website: A final method for verifying your vehicle’s VIN is to check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. The NHTSA website lets you know if your car has any outstanding safety recalls from the past 15 years.
It’s important that you verify the VIN of any vehicle you have an interest in buying. This is so you can avoid buying a lemon or otherwise unsafe vehicle, as well as making it easier to determine a vehicle’s value.

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