- A vehicle’s identification number (VIN) is a unique identifier.
- The most common VIN format is the 17-digit VIN, which became standard for all vehicles manufactured since January 1981. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 may have as few as 5 digits to as many as 13 digits.
- Within the standard 17 digit VIN, each digit or group of digits identifies certain aspects of the make, model, manufacturing plant, and the order it was manufactured. It also includes a “check-digit”, which is a mathematical formula, created to determine the legitimacy of a VIN.
- Between 1968 and 1980, all manufacturers issued VINs for their vehicles, but there was no uniformity. Some manufacturers issued 13-digit VINs, while others issued 11-digit or even 9-digit VIN’s.
- Between 1955 and 1967, there was no such term as a “VIN”; the term was “serial number” and there was even less uniformity. During this time, the normal serial number was 11-digits (a 9-digit was always a possibility), depending on the manufacturer; but it was not uncommon to see trailers with as few as 5-digits.
- Prior to 1955, most manufacturers (and most states) used the engine number as the official “vehicle number”. Uniformity between the manufacturers and the state titling agencies (for those who titled vehicles) was non-existent.
THE CHECK DIGIT:
- The “check-digit” is determined by a mathematical formula, using numeric values for the first 8 digits and the last 8-digits.
- If the computer determines there is a VIN problem, DO NOT OVERRIDE THE VIN-EDIT AND CONTINUE BEFORE VERIFYING THE VIN IS ACCURATE.
- A VIN problem is normally due a “keying error or “misread character” that can be easily fixed.
- In case of a problem, please follow these steps:
- Verify that all digits have been keyed correctly using all paperwork, including former title or MSO
- Common keying errors include; “B” for an “”8”; “S” for a “5”; “V” for a “U”; “I” for a “1”, “Z” for a “2” or “O” (alpha) for a “0” (zero)
- If the VIN is for a trailer, it could be correct
- Trailer VIN’s may or may not conform to the VIN-edit system
NOTE: DO NOT PROCESS AN APPLICATION WITH A VIN PROBLEM
- All VIN problems must be reported to the Division, prior to processing
- After speaking with a Division staff member, additional steps may be required including but not limited to sending the paperwork with a note of explanation to the Division by fax, or postal service
- At one time, VIN plates were stamped or embossed with the VIN, enabling a person to trace with pencil lead to verify the VIN. However, digitized VIN decals now make this method impossible. In those cases, verification by law enforcement or a licensed motor vehicle dealer is the preferred method.