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All About VIN Numbers
Check a vehicle's VIN number online or learn more about VINs below.
All cars and light trucks built after 1981 have unique 17-character "vin
numbers" that contains valuable information about that vehicle's
history. These numbers are called vehicle identification numbers
VIN numbers are the record of everything that will ever happen to a car. It displays a car’s uniqueness and manufacturer and provides a method to trace a car from the factory to the junkyard. Your VIN number can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage.
American automobile manufacturers have used VIN Numbers (sometimes called chassis numbers) since 1954, but it was only in the 1981 model year that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration required that all motor vehicles, trailers, motorcycles and mopeds carry VIN numbers in a fixed format. Once decoded, these vin numbers can provide vehicle specifications such as year and make, model, body style, and place of manufacture.
Look over the car and make sure that all the VIN numbers you can find are the same within the car. The VIN number is normally engraved or on a sticker in numerous places in the car (inside the doors, the dash, the trunk, engine, and/or quarter panels).
States use the VIN number to track a cars status. Protect yourself by thoroughly checking the VIN numbers on used cars you want to buy.
VIN databases on the web, available from such firms as Experian and Consumers Reports (published annually in April by Consumer Reports) can provide a VIN "background check" on a car and alert a potential buyer to such problems as: damage from flood or fire, manufacturer buybacks of lemons, odometers that have malfunctioned or been rolled back, major accidents and crashes, emission problems, gray market or crash test vehicles, changes in title or ownership, salvaged or rebuilt vehicles, car thefts, recalls, and high usage vehicles previously used as taxis or rental cars.
Increasingly, consumers are also using free VIN check on VIn numbers to obtain insurance quotes on the Internet and to determine whether their vehicle has recalled parts by checking their car manufacturer's web site.
The locations of vehicle identification numbers (VIN) vary but the following are the common places to find them:
Firewall of the vehicle
Left instrumentation panel
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