How, Why and When do Trailer VIN Verification.
Verification of a trailer VIN if a very important step in purchasing, selling or registering a trailer. First and most important, if you are buying a used travel trailer and checking its history for major issues you want to make sure your are checking the correct VIN. For this reason it is highly desirable that you do the trailer VIN inspection in person if you are buying the vehicle or have a photo of the VIN plate or label because VINs copies of a paper often have mistakes. This is of paticular imporance for trailer VINs as compared to other vehicles. The reason for that is that pull-behind travel trailers were added to major VIN history databases quite recently and it is normal that some of them won't be found in history databases. In such cases, VIN databases may return a 'not found VIN' response for an invalid VIN or an 'invalid / incorrect VIN' response for a valid VIN which simply wasn't added to the database or a manufacturer that wasn't added to their system and so the VIN validator rejects the VIN while the number is in real fact correct and valid, or the VIN was created for a home-built trailer. This sometimes creates confusion because as a result the responses 'not found' and 'invalid VIN' may be both interpreted as absense of VIN history info or problem / damage records. For this reason you want to lookup the info for the correct VIN.
If you are not sure whether the VIN is valid or not, using a VIN decoder may assist you in checking the VIN for validity.
The use of a VIN identifier or a VIN decoder helps make sure that you are checking the right VIN. If the VIN is validated this means that history databases simply don't have your VIN or problem records for it. If it fails validation you should double-check the VIN, fix the errors and search for VIN history once again.
In case of home-made VINs or trailers with lost VIN labels which were later assigned a newly created VIN finding any previous history records may be a problem and the records for the current VIN are often found only with the DMV that issued the VIN. However, if a VIN history database recognizes such a VIN and you see a VIN reissue record you may suspect the loss of previous history.
What if my VIN is shorter than 17 characters or I see several code pieces on my VIN plate?
With some trailer manufacturers or even models it is common to etch, engrave or print the VIN in separate pieces. As a result, your VIN plate or label may look like a table with a series of numbers and codes. What you need to do is find the longest piece, it usually goes first and is 12-character long and is sometimes labeled as VIN. That will be the first part of your VIN encoding its basic characteristics as assigned by the manufacturer. The rest 5 digts (not letters, only digtis!) should be found elsewhere on the VIN tag. This is the serial number section of your VIN that goes at the end of it and, roughly speaking, identifies a specific vehicle with the factory specifications defined in the first part of the code and this parts can also be labeled as 'serial number'. So if you wonder whether a trailer VIN and a serial number is the same thing, the answer in NO. The serial number is the ending of your VIN. Put these two codes together and you will have your full VIN.
Sometimes VIN codes have '-' characters separating different portions of the VIN responsible for different specifications, like manufacturer, year, etc. These '-' and any other characters should be removed when you run a VIN history check. A valid VIN code should be a sequence of only of letters and digits and never include letters I, O, Q because these can be mistaken for letter L or digits 1 and 0. Otherwise many VIN databases won't be able to recongise your VIN as valid and you can make fautly conclusions about absense of the records for the VIN in history databases.
How do I trace VIN history for the VIN?
There is a number of websites specializing in vehicle histories which provide VIN check forms. You enter the VIN and see if any providers have records for you VIN. Some may give not just history reports anc checks for problem records but also include auction records and photos (when avilable or applicable) because damaged trailers may be sold at salvage auctions as any other vehicle types like cars.
VIN verification by the DMV
In most states the DMV verify the VIN for being genuine when a vehicle is titled, registeted or chanegs owners in the course of a compulsory inspection. In some states this is required when a DMV officer finds that the VIN provided by the customer does not match the records in the DMV database. This is done in order to prevent any future discrepancies and also to prevent VIN tampering and passing a stolen or damaged vehicle as a clean one, travel trailers and campers undergo this procedure as well. For this reason DMV offices require that you bring the trailer at the office or to the inspection facility before they issue you a new title. Be ready to present the trailer to a DMV for examination.
Additionally, a VIN verificatiion is required for certain vehicle categories, including home made trailers /VIN. Trailers with a lost VIN tag also fall into this caregory.
Who can verify my VIN number for the DMV?
Each state has its own list of licensed or autorized VIN Verifiers. Every state has also a special verification from for travel trailers that should be filled out by an authorized vehicle dealer, verifier or enforcement officer. You can find the links to forms and read about procedures for each state on or 'trailer verification by state page'. There you can also find the information on reassignment of missing or lost trailer VINs and the documents required for the procedure. The cost of the reassignment procedure will vary by state but a frequent pattern is the following: free for trailers weighing 3,000 pounds or less and up to $50 for heavier campers. However, verification inspection may be fee-based.
What if there is no VIN on my boat trailer?
This is a common problem with boat trailers, but it can also happen to any trailer and you will have to go through the VIN reassginment procedure. But first of all, check all the standard VIN locations on a trailer and apply for reassignment only if the VIN is missing. Otherwise you may lose the history of your trailer which might come handy if you have been a conscientious owner, your trailer hasn't been damaged and has a clean history and you decide to sell it one day and show the history to you buyers. If your have you old VIN at least in your papers, keep it.
How to create a vin number for a trailer?
There are special rules for encoding a VIN on custom built trailers.