What Is VIN Code?

A vehicle identification number is a unique alpha numerical code that is assigned to every motor vehicle when it is manufactured. It is used by the automotive industry to identify individual motor vehicles, towed vehicles, motorcycles, scooters and mopeds. It serves as a vehicle’s fingerprint because just like the human fingerprint, no two working vehicles anywhere in the world can ever have the same VIN number.

The VIN is a 17-character string of letters and numbers that acts as a unique identifier for the vehicle. The 17-characters are made of only capital letters and numbers without spaces, special characters or the letters Q (q), I (i), and O (o) as these are omitted to avoid confusion with the numerals 0 and 1. Each section of the VIN provides a specific piece of information about the vehicle, including the year, country, factory of manufacture, make and model; and the serial number. Each VIN number is printed in a single line on the vehicle where each segment of the VIN means or indicates something. See featured image above.

As a soon to be vehicle owner, we believe it is imperative that you check a vehicle’s VIN to find out details of the vehicle’s history prior to purchase. For instance, if you are interested in buying a used or second hand car, you can conduct a VIN check to get the vehicle history report and find records of its previous owners, accidents, and repairs. You can also find out if the manufacturer had at any point ever issued a recall of the vehicle due to any factory defects and if such defects were rectified.

One thing however that you need to know when checking for a Vin number is that there are hundreds of VIN related scams reported each year in Nigeria. Under these circumstances a VIN number is one element used vehicle buyers should not take lightly. They must be on alert so that they do not become victims of frauds. There are various ways VIN frauds can be perpetuated and these include cloning, removal and tampering. If a used car buyer purchases a car with one of these VIN issues and he or she is stopped for any reason by law enforcement agencies, they have the right to confiscate that car and charge the owner with a felony. Here are some signs that indicate when a VIN has been tampered with:


VIN Cloning

VIN cloning is when the VIN from a legally registered vehicle is exchanged with that of a stolen one in order to hide its identity. This makes the stolen vehicle seem like one that is not stolen or one that is legitimate. When a potential buyer conducts a search, the details come out clean. Every year, a countless number of unsuspecting used vehicle buyers fall victim to such cloned vehicles. Checking the vehicle and it’s history reports are two of the ways to verify if the VIN has been cloned by fraudsters. You have to ensure that the VIN number displayed on different parts of the vehicle match one another and match the VIN on the vehicle registration documents.


VIN Removal

As a second hand car buyer, you need to conduct a VIN check to ensure that nothing is wrong with the Vehicle and the VIN number itself because on some occasions, when buyers conduct a check, they find that the VIN is completely missing from the vehicle. If the VIN is completely absent in a vehicle, it means it has purposely been taken out as It is impossible to register a vehicle without a VIN. This should indicate to the buyer that something is wrong and in such cases, we believe it is safer for the buyer to ignore that vehicle and find another one. Better safe than sorry!


VIN Tampering

VIN tampering is another common issue with stolen cars. If you find any kind of suspicious mark or scratch on a vehicle, it is most likely a case of VIN tampering. Fraudsters or Car Jackers would normally tamper with VIN number so that it becomes difficult in some cases impossible for authorities to trace or verify that vehicle. In most cases when this happens, it signifies that such vehicles are stolen, and as such illegal to buy or drive on the roads.

Now that you have an idea of what a VIN number is and how to avoid VIN fraud, I am sure you would love to check yours! If you do, on most passenger cars, you may find the VIN number on the front of the dashboard on the driver’s side. The best way to see it is to look through the windshield from outside the car. You may also find the VIN number on the driver’s side door pillar. Open the door and look around the area where the door latches to the car. A motorcycle’s VIN is usually on the steering neck below the handlebars, although sometimes it’s on the motor or on the frame near the motor. A semitrailer’s VIN is located on the front part of the semitrailer on the left side…Happy VIN checking!!!

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