There are a few different ways that someone can go about looking into the history of a vehicle, and one of the most well-known is the VIN, or vehicle identification number. This is a theme that extends to classic cars as well - there are several specific reasons why checking on the VIN of a classic car before purchasing it holds real value.
At Andersen Restoration Parts, we're proud to offer a wide range of classic car parts and refurbishment solutions, from suspension kits to idler arms, center links and numerous other items. We also regularly offer expertise to clients on basic areas of classic car purchases or care. What is a VIN, where is it found, and what are several reasons why it's important to look into when you're considering a classic car for purchase? Here's a simple rundown.
What is a VIN?
For those who don't know, a VIN is a unique 17-character identifier that every vehicle has. It typically includes both letters and numbers, and it's placed in multiple spots on the car - typically on the dashboard near the windshield or on door frames. This allows for easy access at any time by potential buyers or mechanics.
While some people mistakenly believe VINs only apply to newer cars and not classic models, they can be found on older vehicles as well.
Common VIN Locations
The VIN will be imprinted somewhere on the chassis of the car, but the precise location can vary from model to model. The most common places for a VIN to be found are the drivers' side front door jamb, or near either front wheel well. It is also sometimes placed on the radiator support or engine mounting bracket, and many times it will also be on the firewall inside the engine compartment under the hood of the vehicle.
In some older vehicles, the VIN may be slightly hidden or hard to find, such as being stamped on the frame or hidden behind an engine part.
What makes checking the VIN so valuable for any classic car you're considering? Here are several key areas.
One of the first and most essential reasons why you should check the VIN on any classic car before purchase is to make sure that it hasn't been stolen. Looking up the VIN can help you ensure the vehicle in question is indeed owned by the seller, and not a product of theft or fraud.
Furthermore, if you do decide to move forward with your purchase of the vehicle, you can register it with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) to help protect you against any future theft of your car. This is common with classic cars, which are at a higher risk of theft due to their value and uniqueness - by doing this, you allow law enforcement to search your VIN and retrieve not only your vehicle if it's stolen, but even many specific parts if they're removed from the vehicle by a thief (also common with classics).
Catching Odometer Rollback
While we wish it were not the case, some sellers of classic cars attempt to game the system by rolling back the odometer on their vehicles in order to make them appear more valuable than they are. By checking the VIN, you can gain access to any records that have been made of any changes or adjustments made to the car, allowing you to catch this sort of fraud before it's too late.
Informing You of Major Prior Defects
Another key reason to take a look at the VIN is that many times, it can tell you of any major issues or defects with the vehicle that you're considering. This can include historical information on recalls and other major repairs that have been done in the past - things like frame damages, among others.
Knowing this information ahead of time via the VIN can provide you with an idea of the vehicle's condition and any type of repairs that may need to be done in the future, helping you make a better-informed decision when it comes to your purchase.
Accident and Collision Repair History
The VIN also offers insight into the car’s accident and collision repair histories. This is also important information to have, as it can reveal any kind of damage that may have been done in the past - things like airbag deployment, suspension repairs, etc.
This is invaluable knowledge to have when looking at classic cars, as accidents often go unreported and can mean the difference between a great purchase and one that needs more time, effort, and money to repair.
In short, taking a look into the VIN of any classic car you're considering is highly recommended - it can help you gain insight into its theft protection status, odometer rollback history, major repairs done in the past, and more.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our classic car restoration parts or services, speak to our team at Andersen Restoration Parts today.