Because key information is encoded in the VIN number, for the purpose of appraisals, the VIN number is essential to determining key attributes of most cars that determine the value. 

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Brief History of VIN’s

A VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is the unique identifier assigned to your vehicle that allows it to be identified. Any model vehicle manufactured in quantities over 500 are required to have a VIN number assigned to them.

VIN numbers have taken a variety of shapes over the years. In early cars, a VIN was simply a serial number, recording what sequential number a vehicle was in the production run. The identification number was inconsistent and overlapped across manufacturers, eventually causing endless confusion when people wanted to identify a particular car.

Then, manufacturers got smarter and started encoding other information into the VIN, such as manufacturer code, year of production, and the model number. This made a VIN a more important tool to both manufacturers and owners, though there would still be flaws to work out.  Since no one oversaw how VIN numbers were created and assigned, there was still overlap between manufacturers. It also prevented anyone from looking at a vehicle identification number solely and be able to positively identify a car just by that number.

In 1981, the modern 17-character VIN was born. This standardization meant that a unique series of digits could be assigned to only one vehicle, without the possibility of overlap. The standardization of the 17-digit VIN meant that everyone from parts manufacturers to law enforcement could now use a VIN to trace, track and positively identify vehicles. VIN’s can be found stamped or printed in several places on the vehicle, including on the frame. This allows identification even in the case of severe damage from accident or fire.

It's a good idea to be aware of your VIN number. It's not necessary to keep it secret, as every car has it clearly printed on it in plain sight. But it's a good idea to have this number handy (such as on a copy of your registration) in case of theft or catastrophic damage. The VIN is integral to determining the true value of your car.  

If you’re looking for help finding the value of your car based on its VIN, Auto Appraisal Network’s certified appraisers are experienced and qualified to do this.  Find an appraiser near you or contact us for more info today!