So, you just purchased your dream car. All the documents necessary to get you on the road to start enjoying this dream car have been properly filled out and you have applied for insurance, registration and licensing. Once you receive your insurance card and your registration, I bet these documents get placed right into your glove box or center console only to have them see the light of day at time of registration renewal or the unfortunate traffic violation.
There is one common denominator within this process of registering your vehicle and getting proper insurance coverage to legally drive your dream car and that is……. your VIN.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is unique to each vehicle on the road. The VIN is basically the DNA of your vehicle and consists of 17 numbers and letters combined. Each of these numbers and letters can be a life saver if you have it readily available if asked for and that will inevitably happen.
Imagine on a Sunday afternoon you are under the hood of your new car checking things over because you must be on the road at 3:00 AM the next morning for a very important business trip and you notice the drive belt is frayed and close to breaking and the car should not be driven until repaired. You hurry down to the local auto parts store that is over 10 miles from your home before they close for business, so you can change the frayed belt yourself. Its minor maintenance and this should be easy right? You barely make it into the store prior to them closing. As you walk in the store, standing behind the counter is a trained counterperson waiting to assist. You walk up and advise the counterperson of your needs. The lookup process begins and then………the big question. What is the year, make and model and engine size? You politely advise the counterperson of the required information including the engine size. Then…. you are advised by the counterperson in that year model there were 4 versions of that engine each having a different engine code and a different drive belt. The trained counterperson then goes for the only option available in the form of another question trying desperately to provide you with the correct belt…. do you know what the eighth digit of your VIN is? Unfortunately, you do not have that information because your car is back at home and 10 miles away. You don’t have your insurance card or registration recorded anywhere on you or anyone at home that can advise you of this. Unfortunately, you must drive home to get the information and in the meantime the retailer has closed for the day leaving you without a vehicle to drive the next day.
All of this could have been avoided if you only knew the eighth digit of your VIN. The solution is to record this VIN and keep it on you just like your ID or any other documents you keep on your person or readily available because it is just as important. These days it is very easy to either take a picture of the VIN or write it down and save it to your smartphone.
The VIN is located typically on the driver’s side between the dash and windshield. Modern day vehicles will also have them on a driver’s side door pillar tag with a barcode for in processing for maintenance or any other type of service or testing performed. Some vehicles may have them in the glove compartment or under hood as there may be limitations on the body of the vehicle.
The VIN gives a service advisor or counterperson everything they require to locate the correct replacement component and to confirm the latest service recall if any. We will discuss in greater detail the other locations later.
So…. go ahead and take just a few minutes to record your VIN to your smartphone. You’ll thank yourself later.