The Transparency Brought by VINs

It all started with the fact that manufacturers wanted to have a clear order/system for designating the vehicles they produce (in order to recognize their own vehicles, to detect counterfeits, to communicate with their clients in an efficient way, to better organize car maintenance and repairs, etc.). In the beginning, each manufacturer had its own rules and code system. In 1981, VIN codes throughout the US were standardized to the 17-symbol string we know today.

Nowadays, this VIN codes cannot only be used to retrieve very detailed lists of vehicle characteristics (manufacturing-related data) but also to track vehicles throughout their life cycle. One of the key reasons for doing this was to bring transparency into the process of buying and selling cars – in other words, this was a way to ensure the client knows what he/she buys.


Evolutions in the Field – Online VIN Checks

As pretty much everything else in the Internet era, checking VINs has also moved online. While you could still visit the local DMV or vehicle agency office, this is a lot more time consuming than to locate a website performing CAR FAX VIN checks and a plethora of other types of vehicle-related checks. Such websites have established links to numerous databases and can retrieve and integrate tons of information from:

       federal and state vehicle authorities;

       federal and state legal authorities;

       car services;

       insurance companies;


Subsequently, all this information is arranged in an easily readable format, in which the data is prioritized and well-structured (e.g. grouped by sections). Reports could be easily saved and manipulated. Moreover, provided that VINs can be so easily checked, it is possible to establish online solutions that can verify/scrutinize multiple codes in a matter of seconds/minutes, allowing en masse operations.

This could be especially useful for car-related businesses and car dealers, leading to much less time spent on obtaining and scrutinizing this data. In addition, give the ubiquitous application of AI and machine learning, smarter and smarter algorithms could be developed to analyze/prioritize/extract the most important information, to draw conclusions, or to detect fraud (e.g. from single parameters or their combinations).

All these would likely bring even more transparency and efficiency in this business leading to lower resources consumed and better efficiency, which might lead to lower prices or more resources directed for other purposes. It is easy to imagine that these solutions could also reach individual buyers, empowering them with higher quality information and allowing them to make well-informed responsible purchases.

It is the dual use of VINs by both sellers and buyers that leads to ultimate transparency. Thus, it should be the common interest and tendency of both parties to abide by this unifying information standard in the process of negotiation and when securing a deal.

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