As more households owned cars after World War II, both companies and owners recognized the need for a permanent identification system. In the 1950’s, it became a requirement that all cars and trucks were given a unique vehicle identification number or “VIN” to be permanently affixed to the vehicle. The VIN must now be placed on each vehicle title if the vehicle is to be operated on a highway or public road.

A modern VIN is a 17 character code composed of both letters and numerals. IT may be affixed to the windshield, riveted to a door or placed inside the engine compartment.  The ID tag contains a wealth of information, including:

•    The place of manufacture;
•    The year of manufacture;
•    The assembly plant;
•    The make, model and engine type;
•    The six digit serial number.

The identifying information has proved so useful that manufactures have since begun adding additional vehicle tags. Other tags include:

•    Engine VIN with the serial number, engine displacement and number of cylinders;
•    Transmission VIN with a unique serial number, transmission type and date of manufacture;
•    Trunk VIN containing the gross weight, eight and towing capacities, tire size and proper tire pressure;
•    Service Parts VIN containing many major parts numbers as well as a code for the original paint used.

Not only is the VIN tag used for repairs, it is also an invaluable tool for police. With a national database for this information, police can match a vehicle ID to a title or registration information. This allows police to better track down stolen vehicles or determine whether a vehicle is being driven with stolen license plates.

The VIN is normally metal plate with the code characters etched in by the manufacturer. It may be welded, riveted or otherwise permanently attached to the vehicle to prevent theft or removal.

Despite precautions taken to secure the VIN to the vehicle they do become damaged or removed at times. A fire, theft or accident can cause the VIN to be unreadable or missing. For owners, repair centers and insurance adjusters, a VIN tag replacement is available. There are businesses that can take the information from the certificate of title and create a new VIN tag. With the better quality companies, the replacement tag will be made of steel or aluminum with the code characters engraved on the tag. It will provide a means to reattach the tag and step by step instructions for the repair person or owner to secure the new tag. If the information cannot be located from the title, some companies are willing to assist in finding the information from the manufacturer or through a title search.

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