Origin of the VIN

Origin of the VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (VIN)/ Chassis/ Frame number:

  • The VIN is the ONE thing that is unique to the vehicle it is assigned to
  • The world market before 1996 had no standardization across the makes and duplication of Chassis/ Frame numbers occurred across various brands opening the door the fraudulent and criminal activities.
  • The ISO (International Standards Organisation) created the VIN system and since September 1996 most vehicles have been manufactured internationally with a 17 digit alphanumeric code attached to the vehicle. Engines of such vehicles still however operate on manufacturer specific codes and are not on a world standard code, so duplication is possible across brands for engines.
  • Some countries like Japan for domestic markets still use a 13-digit frame/ chassis code. Most vehicle manufacturers worldwide however agreed to use the 17 digit VIN.
  • To put a VIN on a new vehicle a person or institution must be registered as an MIB (Manufacturer, Importer, Builder), accredited by the WMI (World Manufacturer Indicator) based in the USA .
  • The VIN is what is tampered with as it is of crucial importance in identifying a vehicle. Each manufacturer puts a unique number in a visible and non-visible position for identification purposes. The VIN is placed in a prominent non-removable position on a vehicle bodywork and/ or chassis and also on a plate/ sticker fixed to the body. The modern trend is to use a sticker and not a plate.
  • The VIN and engine number detail are used by the investigator to investigate tampering. Officers are able to detect instances of tampering with training. Comprehensive files for each type of vehicle are kept by inspection officers with photographic references.

Uses/ Importance of the VIN

  • To registering a vehicle for ownership
  • The number is used to registered a stolen vehicle
  • The number by which the owner will have to identify his/ her vehicle when recovered
  • Provides vital information about the vehicle
  • Used to help identify components that are unique to the vehicle.

Common methods used to alter a VIN

  • Grinding and re-stamping,
  • Removal and replacement of the component on which the VIN is situated,
  • Over stamping or altering one or more characters of the VIN
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