Did you know that a wealth of information about your car is stored in its VIN? That is your car’s unique vehicle identification number. This number tells a story about your car, and it can be used to help appraise the value of your vehicle. It’s like a fingerprint for all cars, and it’s required by law for all manufacturers to assign one to each vehicle it makes in quantities over 500. You can find a lot of information about car value by VIN.
When VINs were first introduced, they were basically just serial numbers, marking the place in line a vehicle came out of the assembly plant. The problem was that the number was not consistent, and one number could be the same from manufacturer to manufacturer, causing more confusion. When people wanted to purchase a particular vehicle, they had a hard time finding the exact one they intended to buy.
Later, however, manufacturers started putting more information into VINs. Manufacturer code, the year the car was made, model number, and other information started to be added to VINs. People could then more easily identify certain vehicles with specific numbers. So the VIN started gaining importance among manufacturers and vehicle owners.
Still there were problems with the VIN system. No one was in charge of how the numbers were created and assigned. The possibility of overlapping numbers between manufacturers still lurked. People could still not be 100 percent certain that the car that they were looking for was the one they saw in front of them just because of matching VINs.
By 1981, the system became more standardized. The 17-character VIN was created, and people involved in the life of a vehicle, from parts manufacturers to law enforcement use VINs to definitively identify vehicles, and to trace and track them. When cars are stolen, for example, a car that is found in an abandoned parking lot can be positively identified as belonging to a certain owner, based on the VIN on the car’s title.
Today, cars’ VIN numbers are located in several places on the vehicle. The frame, the dashboard right under the windshield, and other places are where you can find your car’s VIN. In case of damage from an accident or a fire, the car can still be identified as a result. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your VIN for each vehicle you have in case it is stolen or damaged.
Also, when you’re trying to sell the car, you may find buyers wanting to know the VIN. They use this information to run reports to see if the car has been in a wreck or when/where it was serviced. It also helps them see exactly how much it is worth. Finding a car’s value by VIN is a good way to either buy a car or to know how much one is worth before trying to sell it.