What is a VIN and what does it help you with?

Last updated on November 25th, 2021 at 09:14 am by Bill Tsouvalas

A VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is that long number each car has, and that no owner will ever remember no matter how well they know their car.

The VIN was introduced by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) back in the 1980s, and it is a 17-character code. What is its purpose? Well, the VIN defines anything you want and need to know about a car: where it was manufactured, who built it, what parts they put in it and where it sits among its siblings.

Why do you need a VIN?

Back in the days, the purpose of a VIN was to create a criminal-proof and unique identity for each car, to avoid fraud and to prevent people from passing a vehicle off for something that it was not (a better one usually). In present times, the VIN is important when you want to sell or buy a used car, as you can use it as security for the loan.

Even if the car has been re-registered, is does not matter, as the loan applies to the car itself. If you just check the Personal Property Securities Register, you can quickly find out if you have any money left to pay for that particular car. You can also discover if the vehicle has suffered any accidents that can make it unsafe or that can prevent you from being able to register it using the Written Off Vehicle Register.

The history of your car in a number

The VIN can show your car’s past and even its manufacturing history. The VIN can tell you where the vehicle was built. Each country and auto maker have claimed a specific sequence of numbers and letters which will give up the car’s identity: Z for Italy, 6 for Australia, S for England, V for France, ZAR for Alfa Romeo or 6G1 for the nearly departed Holden.

The next sequence is the chassis code or model: F for VF Commodore or 937 for Alfa Romeo chassis. The next number is the standard equipment included, such as the interior trim and the engine, which will ensure the legitimacy and originality of the car.

VIN from the past to the present

The Vehicle Identification Number was standardised in the 1980s, but the order of the sequences has changed over time. That is why it will be a little harder to ascertain which letters and numbers refer to which bits.

These days, the VIN plays a significant role in recalls. So, when the manufacturer realises that there is a defective part in a certain model, they will call back the vehicles for repairs or replacement. The VIN helps the auto maker know where each vehicle stands in the production run and which ones to recall. In such a situation, the companies usually set up a website where you can input your car’s VIN and find out if you are one of the unlucky.

The Vehicle Identification Number, although many times ignored by car owners, plays a critical role in fighting fraud and in keeping the car and its passengers safe.

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