A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a series of characters that is unique to one specific vehicle that’s been manufactured for sale in Canada.
The vehicle identification number, which is usually 17 characters long, can be found in a few different places in your vehicle. You can typically find it on a vehicle’s windshield where it meets the dashboard on the driver’s side. Alternatively, you can look at the door post—where the door latches—on the driver’s side to find this number.
You’ve probably noticed this number before and thought nothing of it. But if you’re thinking about buying or selling a used vehicle, having the VIN in hand is important to ensure you can make an informed decision.
What can you learn by decoding the vehicle identification number?
1. Learn the Vehicle’s Basic Information
With the VIN, you can quickly and easily determine a vehicle’s make, model, and style, as well as the year it was manufactured and where it was made.
If you’re selling a car, it’s important to know these facts to ensure you’re providing potential buyers with accurate information. If you’re buying, using the VIN to determine these facts can help ensure you know exactly what you’re buying—and the seller isn’t trying to get one over on you.
This information is provided in the characters of the VIN itself.
2. Learn about the Vehicle’s Accident History
With the VIN, you can also check the vehicle’s accident history. This is a critical step to take when buying a used car. You can learn how many owners the vehicle has had in its lifetime, when it’s been inspected, and if it’s been involved in any major car crashes or incidents, such as being submerged in water or being rolled over.
Knowing the vehicle’s previous accident history can help you make a more informed decision before you purchase.
3. Discover Safety Recalls
For your own safety, you should know if there have been any safety recalls on your vehicle. You’ll want to have it fixed immediately.
The same is true if you’re buying a used car. The vehicle may not be safe to drive as is, which is a critical piece of information for any driver to know before the sale.
4. Check out Maintenance Records
In order to get more money, some sellers may stretch the truth when it comes to their vehicles’ maintenance. By claiming their vehicles are full of new parts and in tip-top shape, they can try to get more money.
If you buy a car for more than its worth due to these mistruths, you could end up spending thousands of dollars on maintenance soon after the purchase. That’s why knowing a vehicle’s true maintenance records is so important.
As a seller, having a detailed record of the vehicle’s maintenance history can help you determine what needs to be fixed before the sale, as well as how much the car is really worth.
5. Determine the Vehicle’s Odometer Reading
Anyone buying a used car will want to know its odometer reading. This can help you better understand how much “life” there’s left in it. Typically, the higher the reading, the lower the value of the car.
But what if the seller has fudged the numbers? Then, you wouldn’t be able to make an informed purchasing decision.
A vehicle identification number can tell you whether the odometer setting has been flipped after reaching the maximum number of miles or if it’s been rolled back in an effort to make it seem as though it has fewer miles on it than it really does.
As you can see, you can learn critical information from a VIN decode. Always run a check on the vehicle identification number before buying or selling a used car.