What is a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?


Each and every vehicle produced has a Vehicle Identification Number or VIN for short. First used in the early 1950s, this number is incredibly useful as it can reveal a wealth of information about a vehicle, its history, where it came from and even the features.

The numbers, what do they mean and how do you crack the code!

With 17 numbers, it’s hard to remember what they all mean and yes, there are hidden messages within the numbers to help you tell more about your vehicle.

Sounds difficult, is there an easier way to extract the data?

Instead of memorising all of the above, you can use an online checker such as CarFax (works for American imports). There are also applications available on smartphones that you can manually put the number in or you can scan the VIN.

There are a handful of websites in the UAE that can be used for gulf spec vehicles. They provide a small report for free, which doesn’t include accident history and an estimated price for the vehicle.

Dubicars recommends you pay the premium fee (usually AED 99) as it’s worth finding out the history of the vehicle and can save you in the long run.

Where can you find the VIN on a vehicle?

There are a few places on each and every vehicle where the VIN number is clearly visible and aren’t that hard to spot. The most obvious are the dashboard and the driver side door panel or door post (B Pillar).

You can also one on the engine block as well. Although it may be harder to reach, it should be attached to the firewall inside the engine compartment.

Then there are the more obscure areas one may find their VIN. In select vehicles, the number can be found in the boot underneath the spare tyre and one of the rear tyre wells.

We actually went out in the heat and did our own research with four different vehicles.

Starting with a Volkswagen Passat, you found the chassis number on the dash, door panel and underneath the spare tyre!

Ssangyong provided us with one on the door pillar and dashboard as did a Toyota Prado.

Last but not least, we checked a Volvo C30. We managed to find not one but six areas for the VIN including three in the engine bay, one panel where the rear hatch closes, one on the dash and the last on the driver side door panel.

We couldn’t find any bearing of the VIN on the rear wheel arches.

Note: If any of the VIN numbers you find in these locations do not match one another, do not purchase the vehicle.

In the UAE, the VIN number will also be printed on the registration card (mulkiya).

Help, this car for sale has no VIN’s anywhere?

If you’re buying a car in UAE with no VIN, you have a problem. Stay away from the vehicle. No VIN numbers are immediate red flags as the vehicle has some serious issues and could be stolen.

Stay away!

What do you do with this magical number?

As stated above, the VIN number is incredibly useful as not only does it tell you where your car was built and what model year it is, it can also tell you the features it has and it’s incredibly useful if your car ever gets stolen.

Photo credit: I Drive Safely

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