A VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique number assigned to your vehicle at the point the vehicle is manufactured.
The VIN is held against the documentation of the vehicle and is how a vehicle can be identified outside the standard registration plate.
There should be a match of records between the license plate and the VIN. If there is no match it is usually a warning sign as to the authenticity of the vehicle if up for sale.
Although most road vehicles have a VIN, do trailers have a VIN?
Trailers do have a VIN. Trailers have a VIN so they can be formally identified against the manufacturer’s documentation, to the owner and help prevent theft. A Trailer’s VIN is usually located on the frame of the trailer but can be stamped on to the metal framework. It is in a 17-character format.
No two VIN’s are ever the same. They are unique. This reference, particularly for trailers, provides all the history of the vehicle as well as the specifications.
If you purchase a trailer – or any other vehicle – it is important to make sure the VIN matches the specifications of any documentation provided. A VIN not matching the manufacturers documentation is one sign of a potential scam during a sale.
To do you own due diligence checking you need to locate the VIN on the trailer and do some research.
Where to find a VIN on a trailer
A VIN is usually found on a trailers frame. The VIN can be stamped into the metal work or can be held on a plaque welded on screwed on to the trailer. The VIN consists of up to 17 characters, and splits in to 8 segments, to identify the country, type, length, year, and serial number.
A VIN, especially on a trailer, can be a little elusive.
You may need to go on the hunt for the identification mark.
If your VIN is held on a visible plaque with a bright yellow background, it should be relatively easy to spot.
This rule often applies to newer trailers where the VIN is put in a more prominent place.
In the past this wasn’t the case. A trailer’s VIN was literally stamped into the metal work.
These can be particularly hard to find if the trailer is showing signs of wear, tear and ageing. Look along the axle and the sides of the frame first.
You may even need to feel your way along the frame if you are struggling to find.
What exactly is a VIN?
A VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number.
These were brought in during 1954 to identify vehicles and provide each one with a ‘finger-print’ with the idea that the VIN should be as unique as a fingerprint is.
For the next 27 years VIN’s were added to vehicles but the format of the VIN wasn’t regulated and standardized until the early 1980’s.
This meant the format of the VIN could be different based on state and location. Not particularly helpful but did serve a purpose.
This means if you are looking at a trailer more than 40 years old, the VIN may look different compared to today’s standards.
By the early 1980’s common sense prevailed, and the VIN was standardized.
VIN records were kept in paper format in various transportation authorities, usually relating to the sector or area the vehicle – or trailer – was manufactured.
Times have changed of course, and you can carry out your own VIN checks online using a tool such as the United States Department of Transportation’s Decoder tool
How to get a VIN on a trailer?
Your trailer should already have a VIN. You should not attempt to add a VIN manually.
A VIN is created by the manufacturer and is documented in public records against the trailer. If you try to add one, which is not the official VIN, it could lead to all sorts of problems.
VINs have been added to vehicles as far back as 1954, so unless your trailer pre-dates this – which is often unlikely – you should be able to find the VIN somewhere.
If the VIN has been etched or stamped into the frame, it may be difficult to find.
Why do trailers have a VIN?
Vehicles and trailers have a VIN to help identify them.
Before the trailer is sold, the vehicle identification number (VIN) is assigned to it.
The VIN is a 17-digit number that identifies the model, make, and year of a vehicle, and also uniquely identifies a vehicle with the manufacturer.
VINs are usually stamped on a plate on the framework of the trailer.
VINs are also important when it comes to buying and selling.
It can help prevent fraud and scams. This is more important with vehicles such as cars, as you can make sure the license plate and VIN match the registered records.
It also allows the government and insurance companies to track the vehicle in the event of a crash or theft.
Trailer VIN – In Conclusion
All trailers and vehicles made since 1954 have a VIN.
By checking the VIN against records held online by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration you can check the details of your trailer or confirm the details and specifications of a trailer before you purchase.
Although your VIN may be difficult to spot it should be there.
If you are looking at buying a trailer and can’t find the VIN or suspect an attempt to remove or alter the VIN, then beware and do more due diligence before you decide to buy.