All vehicles manufactured have a vehicle identification number or VIN. This helps manufacturers, dealers, insurance agencies, government regulators and buyers keep track of the vehicles on the streets. The VIN comes in handy when you are buying a secondhand vehicle, as it makes it easier to track the history of a car, truck or any vehicle, including ownership, liens and encumbrances, and even accident reports as claimed through insurance.
If you have a trailer, or if you are planning to buy a trailer, it makes sense to check the VIN number, so you will know the history of the vehicle. Unlike automobiles, though, it’s not as easy to find the VIN on the trailer. On a car, the VIN is usually either on the firewall on the engine bay, or the A-pillar on the driver’s side. On a trailer, the VIN could be located in different places, depending on the manufacturer.
Here are a few tips in checking a VIN on a trailer.
- Park the trailer on open ground, where you can easily view it from all angles. Or, if you are inspecting a trailer for-sale, make sure you have enough space to inspect. Bring along a flashlight, so you won’t have difficulty viewing in tight or dark spaces.
- Try the trailer tongue first. This is the metal structure that latches on to the car or truck’s trailer hitch.
- Check the frame. If the trailer has a body-on-frame construction, the frame might contain the VIN.
- Check both the interior and exterior of the trailer.
- Check the rear end and the front end of the trailer.
- If you have a copy of the trailer’s certificate of registration, then the VIN will most likely be there. However, what you want to confirm is whether the VIN imprinted on the trailer matches the VIN on the deed.
Once you find the trailer’s VIN, you can check the history through the DMV in your state. You can also use websites that offer vehicle checking services, such as carfax.com, vehiclehistory.gov and dmv.org. Important information you should note include the ownership history, accident history, and the like.
Checking vehicle information will cost you a nominal fee per check, or a monthly subscription fee, which lets you save a few dollars if you are checking a lot of VINs. Some websites only contain information on automobiles, and not trailers, though, so make sure the service you are subscribing to includes trailers.
Lastly, you can check with a dealership owned by the trailer’s manufacturer to ask for any specific details or information you should look for when buying a trailer, especially a used one. This is important because some trailers might require specific care, depending on construction and use.
When buying any vehicle, be a smart consumer and protect yourself from potential fraud or misrepresentation. Know how to find the VIN, and how to check a vehicle’s records. This way, you know the fair price, and you know if you’re getting what you’re paying for.