How to check the
vehicle identification number (VIN)
Cars have an obvious means of identification – the number plate (registration plate). However, this can be changed if you buy a personalized plate, for instance, or if a thief swaps number plates.
How to check the vehicle identification number (VIN)
The vehicle identification number, on the other hand, is unique and never legitimately changes. It's usually 17 digits and a mixture of letters and numbers (and it won't contain the letters I or O - these are always shown as numbers one and zero).
You usually find the VIN on a metal plate in the engine compartment and somewhere else on the body of the car (you may have to hunt around for it). Modern vehicles also show it on the windscreen (front or back).
It's much harder to change the VIN on a car, as there will usually be signs of alteration. But thieves may try to hide these.
To check the VIN
- Make sure it's the same in each location and matches that on the V5C.
- Ensure it hasn't been tampered with - if it's scratched or the rivets have been disturbed, ask why.
- See if any glass has been scratched - the VIN may have been scratched off.
If the VIN begins with the letters SABTVRO the VIN has been re-stamped by the Ministry of Transport. This can mean it has a new body shell or that there's a query over the true identity or age of the vehicle.
Any person buying a used car should also seek their own independent advice
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Help and advice
Some relevant frequently asked questions
When does the 60 days start? When I register, purchase or when I check the first vehicle?
The 60 days start from the date of purchase of the AutoCheck.
Can you buy a check over the phone?
This service is an online service only, so we are unable to carry out a check over the phone.
When do I get my check?
You report appears as soon as you have successfully made your purchase. The results are instant.
How much does the data check insurance cost?
There is no extra charge for the data insurance, it is included in the cost of your check.