A VIN number is crucial to a car’s identity, identifying the vehicle’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM), design, build, and model year. That means if you plan to buy a used car, it’s extremely important to check the VIN code (and the registration paperwork, if needed) before you take delivery. And that means you must know how to read the VIN number, what it’s supposed to look like, and how to interpret it. And we are going to answer all these questions further in this post.
What Is a VIN Number?
The Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, identifies the vehicle’s manufacturer and any customizations, such as add-ons or factory modifications. Some automakers use an initialism instead of a full model name to shorten the VIN number. For example, a Chevrolet Malibu is abbreviated “GM”, but its VIN would be 1130-AAB11-5567. Thus, you can do a title check by VIN in seconds without diving into vehicle documentation or technical specs.
Why Check VIN Numbers?
Some people, especially car buyers, use VIN checking as a way to test-drive a used car. And there are many points in doing so. If you don’t check VINs, you risk ending up with a lemon. Lemon is a car the dealer has been unable to return to the manufacturer. This usually happens if the car has been significantly damaged, like in a collision.
There are a few other reasons to check a VIN before buying a used car:
- It’s good practice to check any car before you buy it. VIN checking can help you to determine whether you’re getting a significantly damaged or problematic car. It’s also good to know whether there are any warranty issues or other problems you need to be aware of before driving off the lot;
- If a VIN number doesn’t match the VIN written on a vehicle’s registration paperwork, this could signal a problem;
- By reading a VIN number, you can check the history of the vehicle and make sure that it is not reported as stolen;
- The VIN number is used to identify the car. It can also be used as a key to unlock information about the car’s history and allows for tracking the vehicle. You can use the VIN number to find out the owner of the vehicle, make, model, year of production, color, and other data.
You should approach buying a used car responsibly. That’s why we do not recommend that you skip the VIN check. What’s more, there are many online services and websites where you can interpret it.
When it comes to buying a used car, it’s all about trusting the information you receive. It’s not enough to just want a used car. You need to be able to verify the authenticity of everything. You should know who you are dealing with and want to be confident in the vehicle itself.
One thing to remember when you’re buying used is that while the car might seem perfect on the outside, it could be hiding problems on the inside. It’s possible to get into a vehicle, drive it for a few miles and even start it, only to have major issues after the sale. You want to ensure that you’re not only getting a quality vehicle but that you’re getting one that will last you a long time. That’s why you should never skip the VIN check.