First, a disclaimer: I’m going to call it a “VIN number” just like everyone else, even though we all know that the ‘N’ in VIN stands for “Number,” which I probably don’t have to tell you means we are all essentially calling it a Vehicle Identification Number… Number. Yes, just as we like to refer to our bank card Personal Identification Number as a PIN number, knowing full well that the ‘N’ in PIN also stands for “Number.” We digress…
Think of your VIN number as one of the little things that…well… COUNTS when it comes to selling your vehicle quickly. That tiny little combination of numbers and letters, typically found embedded in the dashboard of your vehicle (close to where it meets the windshield), or on the vehicle’s firewall, or on the driver’s side door post, or even on many of the main components of the originally manufactured vehicle (i.e., the engine), provides a lot of information to a potential buyer. And before I go on, allow me to dispel the myth that someone can use your VIN number to have a key made, which would make breaking into or stealing your car much easier. Don’t sweat it. It’s just not true.
While most of the those 17 individual numbers or letters only confirm much of what you would have already told a potential buyer about your vehicle — the year, make, model, body style, engine type, etc. — decoding the remaining digits is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of getting your car sold. Let’s face it, nobody outside of Robert Langdon really cares about deciphering the carline code (the what?) or figuring out at what assembly plant the vehicle was produced — yes, these are actual details that the individual numbers or letters of a VIN abbreviate for you. However, what a potential buyer would like to know — not just be told — are details related to the history of the vehicle. Herein lays the true beauty of the VIN number.
By providing the VIN number to potential buyers you are allowing them to virtually travel back in time, without a DeLorean, to make sure you’re not hiding anything about your vehicle. Did you know that every time a vehicle is treated by a [reputable] mechanic or service department that the diagnosis and treatment are logged under that vehicle’s VIN number? Think of it as a vehicle’s Social Security Number, or DNA, or fingerprint, or any other cheesy analogy that stresses that these numbers are UNIQUE for every vehicle. Yes, you could even say VIN numbers are like snowflakes because no two are alike. I would really just prefer you didn’t.
There are now a plethora of websites and services that offer Vehicle History Reports, where all someone needs to provide is a VIN number and they’ll provide documentation (some instantly on the web) confirming or dispelling all of a buyer’s worst fears – Is this vehicle stolen? Has there ever been any major frame damage? Did someone forge a river in this Jeep? Has it been on fire? Are there really only 18 miles on this ’95 Camry, or did someone jack with the odometer? Is this thing a LEMON or what?!
Selling a car is stressful. Buying a car, especially a used car, is more stressful. Next to buying a home, a vehicle is often the largest type of purchase people make and they don’t want to get ripped off. And they want to trust you, the seller, but they don’t want to be naïve.
My answer to this question is an emphatic, “YES!” Put the minds of potential buyers at rest by providing your vehicle’s VIN number, so they can do their homework. And if you want to set yourself apart from other sellers with vehicles comparable to yours, do the buyer’s homework for them (your allowed — this isn’t school) and purchase the Vehicle History Report yourself. It’ll cost you about $20. I’m not suggesting giving it away, rather making it available. If you want selling your car to be easier, make buying your car easier.
Just A. Little expert advice.