VIN Checks

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) checks or Chassis number checks are an excellent way to combat vehicle 'cloning', a scam that has grown at an alarming rate over the last few years. Cloning is a term used to describe a vehicle that has had its identity changed, usually because it is actually a stolen vehicle.

Imagine going to a salvage yard and writing down the registration number of a scrapped vehicle, all you have to do is to find the same vehicle, same colour, and then put new registration plates bearing the number of the vehicle seen at the salvage yard onto any stolen vehicle, you now have a 'ringer'.

However, if someone were to look a little closer and write down the VIN, then by using the VIN check service, they would discover that it would not match. If this should happen to you, then call the Police and walk away - there is no excuse if the VIN does not match the registration number and tax disc.

Professional car thieves will actually attempt to change the VIN on a vehicle so look closely to see if it looks original and always check under the bonnet for the second marker. You can call us on 0330 331 0030 and you will be given free advice on where the VIN is located on any given vehicle. Remember, if in doubt walk away - there are thousands of perfectly legitimate vehicles out there.

Most VINs are displayed on the nearside (passenger side) of the windscreen. You will be able to see this from outside the vehicle, but always find the second VIN under the bonnet. Another good idea is to check the engine number as most car crooks do not bother to doctor this. At the engine number will be given to you when you carry out a vehicle check online.

VINs carry a code within them and manufacturers and specialist companies, such as CDL Vehicle Information Services, can decode VINs for use within the Motor Industry for identifying vehicles accurately down to parts and trim. It can also tell where the vehicle was manufactured and the general specification - but the most common use is for identifying ringers / clones and for the Police, who use it to identify seriously damaged and/or burnt out vehicles.

Always be careful with vehicles that have a private number or cherished plates shown. This is not an issue in itself but if a vehicle is written off and then put back on the road the seller may legitimately change the registration number in an attempt to hide the 'write-off'.

At we always use the VIN as this never changes. It does not matter how many different registration numbers the vehicle has had, the 'write-off' will be permanently marked as such when checking via the VIN against the ABI total loss register. This is the way we perform checks at In the USA everyone checks a vehicle by the VIN - they would not consider a purchase without doing this!

Remember that all UK VINs over the last 10 years are composed of 17 numbers and letters. Be careful with Z and 2 and with 5 and S, these are common errors as to why a VIN will not match a legitimate vehicle.