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What Is a VIN and Where Can I Find It?

Since 1954, auto companies have used a serial number to identify each and every vehicle and it could save you money. Yes, the vehicle identification number or VIN is a unique code attached to every car, truck or van made around the world and smart used car shoppers know how it can help them save.

To find the VIN, look for a metal strip that's embedded into the vehicle's dashboard on the driver's side. The best way to see this strip is by looking down at the dash from the outside. You can also find the VIN number printed on a label that is found on the driver's door along the flat end that touches the car when the door is closed.

Used car shoppers should become familiar with this number. The 17-digit VIN is used to get a vehicle history report. The report will include a variety of important details that vehicle shoppers should be aware of about a car, truck or van that they're interested in buying. If the vehicle has ever been in an accident or suffered damage from a natural disaster, you will have this information on the report. A used car salesmen may try to tell you that the car is "like new" but the report is clearly stating otherwise.

A vehicle history report provides information that includes things like the number of previous owners a vehicle has had. This is important because every owner drives differently, so the wear and tear on a vehicle is more extensive the more owners it has at the wheel. As the potential next owner, you should know this and it may turn you off from buying the vehicle.

Knowledge is power and understanding what the VIN will do for you is savings power. Shop smart for your next used car and get a vehicle history report before you buy. Save yourself from putting your future on the wheels of a car with a shady past.