Vehicle identification number (VIN)

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If you’ve briefly watched CSI or any crime show, you’ll be aware of how powerful DNA is. It seems like a magic code to catch bad guys.

Just like humans, cars also have a kind of DNA code known as a cars VIN – it’s vehicle identification number.

You must make sure that the VIN is legit, as an incorrect VIN can be a sign of a potentially stolen car or a vehicle that’s been in a serious accident.

Here’s all you need to know!

What is a VIN?

Every single car made receives a unique vehicle identification number (VIN). It’s the car’s identity code, sometimes known as the chassis check number.

A VIN contains 17 characters (digits and capital letters). The VIN acts as the car’s fingerprint.

The DVLA VIN shows the car’s features and specifications and country of the manufacturer for the vehicle. For instance. Cars built in the UK contain SA-SM in the VIN.

How to find your car’s VIN

Here is where to check the VIN on your vehicle:

  • Door frame/door post of the drivers front door.
  • Dash near the windscreen.
  • Engine (machined pad on the front of the engine).
  • Left-hand inner wheel arch.
  • Steering wheel/steering column.
  • Radiator support bracket.
  • Car’s V5C vehicle registration certificate.

How do I check the VIN is legit when buying a car?

When you buy a car, the VIN is one of the things that you must check to ensure you’re not buying a stolen car. You must make sure that VIN located on the vehicle matches the VIN on the V5C. If not, you’re not buying what you think you are!

If something doesn’t look right with the cars VIN, cancel your transaction and do not buy the car! It’s probably stolen or has a shady past.

What else should I check?

In terms of other documents to check, make sure that you check out the cars V5C logbook and MOT certificates!

For a full run-down on how to buy a used car, check out our ultimate guide.