The basics about the VIN

What is a VIN?

A VIN is simply a car's vehicle identification number and is the identifying code for a specific automobile. The VIN can be viewed as your car's fingerprint, and no two vehicles in production may have the same VIN. The VIN is made up of 17 characters including capital letters and digits that combined create a unique identifier for the vehicle. The car's unique features, manufacturer and specifications can all be found within this vehicle identification number. It is commonly used for insurance coverage, license tag registration, warranty claims, thefts, and to track recalls.

Where can I find the VIN?

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can be found on the drivers side of the vehicle on the dashboard. It is usually visible when standing outside the vehicle and looking through the windshield by the corner of it and on top of the dashboard. Sometimes a VIN is found inside the door jam on the drivers side of the car. If you already own a vehicle and have registered and insured it, then your car title, auto insurance policy and registration will all include the VIN on them.

Why do cars have Vehicle Identification Numbers?

There are numerous reasons why car manufacturers use VINs including but not limited to regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Car manufacturers use the VIN to provide proper replacement parts required for normal wear and tear as well as parts due to auto accidents. It is also used when a manufacturer does a recall for a particular vehicle problem.

How can a VIN help me?

If you're in the market for a pre-owned car the VIN is invaluable. It can be used to get a free record check from CARFAX which could save you a lot of headaches in the future and also provide you with bargaining power when negotiating on the vehicle. Then there's always the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle doesn't have flood damage or some other serious unseen issues that the seller is trying to hide.