Understanding VIN for Arlington Used Car Purchases

VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a 17-digit code that uniquely identifies any vehicle. It’s usually located on the driver side of the dashboard and can be found on any car’s title as well.

At Adonis Auto Group, we’re here to offer a wide range of used cars for sale in Arlington and nearby areas, plus assistance with many financial areas of a used car purchase. When buying a used car, the VIN is one of several important factors to consider in order to ensure you’re getting what you paid for. Here are some basics about VINs and why they’re so crucial when purchasing a used car.

VIN used car purchases

Vehicle VIN Basics and Where It’s Found

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique number that identifies the vehicle and all of its components. It can be found in four places:

1) The vehicle’s dashboard, on the driver side beneath the windshield.

2) On a metal tag on the upper left-hand corner in front of the radiator where it says “VEHICLE ID NUMBER” or “VIN.”

3) On the left side of the instrument panel, near your head.

4) At the end of your car’s title, which you can review at your DMV.

What VIN Tells You About the Vehicle

What is the VIN really telling you about the vehicle in question? Actually, several things. Here are how each of the digits work:

  • First three digits of the VIN: Indicates the country of origin. Toyota vehicles with a 1, 4 or 5 to start their VIN are made in the US, while those with a 2 are built in Canada and 3 in Mexico.
  • Digits 4 to 8 of VIN: Indicates the Vehicle Description Section (VDS), with each character representing technical aspects like engine, body, seatbelt, model line and vehicle series.
  • Characters 9 to 11: Security code, year, and assembly plant of the vehicle.
  • Digits 12 to 17: Vehicle Identifying System (VIS) may be present here, or there may be no code at all in this section — in these cases, these last digits are a unique serial number for the vehicle.

Situations VIN is Used For

There are several different settings where the VIN will be used on a regular basis, from used car purchasing to several other areas. These include:

  • Buying a used car: In order to be sure that you’re getting a quality vehicle, it’s best to know the vehicle history. This can be done simply by taking your VIN and checking for any accidents, previous ownerships, if any recalls have been issued on the car, etc.
  • Repossession auction: If you plan to buy a repossessed car at an auction, checking the VIN is one important step to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. Repossessed cars are often in dire need of repair, and it’s vital to know exactly what you could be getting yourself into.
  • Fraud prevention: Especially if you’re buying a car from an individual rather than a dealership or company, checking the VIN before buying is one step you can take to be sure that it’s not a stolen vehicle.
  • A used car inspection: You may want to have a mechanic inspect any used auto you are planning on purchasing, and knowing your VIN is one of the first steps in this process. This is because your mechanic will use the Vehicle Identification Number to differentiate between computers and other components that may look the same, but aren’t.
  • Searching for a stolen car: If you suspect that a particular car is stolen, the VIN can help identify it. Most cars have a VIN engraved on some sort of metal tag, and this makes it quite easy for police to record the information. In order to help protect consumers from purchasing stolen cars or vehicles that are not in acceptable condition, various federal laws were enacted to monitor such aspects.

How to Locate Your VIN Correctly

It’s important to get your VIN right when you’re looking at a used car purchase or any of the other situations we mentioned above. This is because entering incorrect numbers can give you wrong information about the vehicle, and result in lots of wasted time (and potentially loss of money). We went over common VIN locations above; here’s a bit further detail on how to locate a VIN.

The easiest way to get your VIN is by simply asking the owner to give it to you or display it for you. In addition, try looking near the driver’s side windshield where the manufacturer plate would be — this is usually a good place to find the VIN, as it is required by law. If you can’t locate the number there, look near your head for a sticker or tag that has the VIN printed on it — if your car has been in an accident and repaired, this could be another good place to check. Finally, take a look at your auto title to find the VIN there. The VIN is always at the end of your car’s title, where you can verify it’s correct.

For more information on how a VIN is used within both used car purchasing situations and several other settings, or to learn how to find your VIN or inquire about any of our other used car services, bad- or no-credit used car loans or other solutions in Arlington, speak to the staff at Adonis Auto Group today.

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