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Auto Refinance

SEP 08, 2022

About vehicle identification numbers and where to find the VIN number on your car

The VIN is like a serial number and is unique to the vehicle it’s found on.



5 min read

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A VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a 17 or 18-digit number tied to most modern cars and trucks. The VIN is like a serial number and is unique to the vehicle it’s found on. It can be found in different locations on a vehicle including on the VIN plate, the frame, and the engine block. The VIN has several purposes including DMV registration, tracking the service histories of vehicles, filing car insurance claims, and other things like identifying the car if it gets stolen and recovered. Keep reading to learn more about what a VIN is, why they are important, and where you can find one on your car.

Why are vehicle identification numbers important?

VINs are important because they are used to identify, register, and track specific vehicles. It helps you register your car with the state and track your vehicle for recalls in case something goes wrong with your make and model vehicle. They can also help you look up a vehicle’s history using a CARFAX or similar report by VIN. It can help to prevent you from buying a car that has had flood damage or to see if a car was imported from another country.

Reading your VIN: The 17-digit VIN decoded

The most common vehicle VINs are 17 characters long, but the length can vary depending on the car’s year and origin. The 17-digit VIN starts with a number or letter country code that identifies the manufacturer of your car like “1G1FP22PXS2100001”. For example, “1”,” 4”, or “5” means it was manufactured in the United States. A “2” represents Canada. A “W” means it was manufactured in Germany.

The next two VIN digits identify your vehicle make and company of manufacture. VIN characters four thru eight normally are the vehicle specifications like the platform code, series number, body type, safety code, and engine code. The last six digits are production sequence numbers for each individual vehicle made that year which act like a unique serial number. The VIN letters and numbers indicate the specific things like the car’s engine block, transmission, and chassis number for your car or truck.

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Where to find the VIN on your car

The VIN is normally located on the metal vehicle identification number plate near the bottom of the driver’s side windshield, on another metal plate inside the driver’s side door frame, on the engine block of your car, on the trunk lid, and in other locations. The plates are the easiest places to see the VIN. You can also try to find it on your engine parts by using a flashlight. If you also have the title or registration paperwork handy, it is listed there as well.

When buying a car, it is important to match the VIN listed on the title to the number stamped on the VIN plates. A car may also have multiple VINs on it if the vehicle has been significantly repaired using a different engine, wheel base components, or body parts like the trunk from another vehicle. In these rare cases, you should use the primary number found on the metal vehicle identification number plates or car frame to identify the car.

About VINs and refinancing

If you're looking to refinance your car loan, it can be helpful to know your vehicle identification number. You can enter it during the auto refinancing process to identify the car associated with your auto loan. The lender will use the VIN to check the vehicle's value and make sure it meets their requirements. They will also check things like your credit history to see if you qualify for the loan. It's important to know your VIN before you start refinancing because it can help streamline the process and work towards getting you a better deal on your loan. If you have a good credit score and a clean vehicle history report, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate.

About Caribou

Caribou makes refinancing easy. We simplify the process and allow you to see your savings quickly while helping you along every step of the way. We take your current auto loan and work with the best lenders in your local area. Refinance rates are as low as 2.32% APR**. Our secure platform allows you to pre-qualify in seconds without impacting your credit score+. Getting started is easy, and we follow industry best practices to protect your personal information.

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Car insurance and VINs

You also need to provide your VIN number to your car insurance company. They use your car’s vehicle identification number to make sure they are insuring the correct vehicle, and to help assess the associated risk based on the particular vehicle’s value. Your insurance company runs the number through a VIN number lookup service to help them determine the risk of insuring a car. The service provides information on a car’s make, model, and year, as well as things like its safety features, crash history, and theft rate.

The resulting information from the VIN number lookup is used to help set your car insurance plan premium. For example, a car with a high theft rate may cost more to insure than a different vehicle with a lower theft rate. They can also use the VIN to properly file any claims and repair the damage if you are in a car accident because it is unique to your car.

Go find your VIN

So, as you can see, knowing your VIN number is important when it comes to buying, selling, registering, refinancing, and maintaining your car. The VIN helps track repairs to your car if damaged, locate your car in cases of motor vehicle theft, and it also helps make sure that the insurance company is properly reimbursing you for the cost of repairs. Have you never tried to find the VIN on your car? Give it a try if you haven’t and see how many VIN placements you can find.

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Contact Details
NMLS #1746612

Mon - Fri: 9am - 8pm EST

Sat - Sun: 9am - 4pm EST

1717 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036

Caribou Insurance Services, LLC
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* This information is estimated based on consumers who were approved for an auto refinance loan through Caribou on or after 1/1/2022, had an existing auto loan on their credit report, and accepted their final terms. As of 9/27/2022, borrowers who refinance save an average of $111.16 per month. Refinance savings may result from a lower interest rate, longer term, or both. There is no guarantee of savings. Your actual savings, if any, may vary based on interest rates, the repayment term, the amount financed, and other factors.

+ To check the refinance rates and terms you qualify for, we conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a loan product and continue your application, we or one of our lending partners will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

++ Social security number is required should you choose to move forward in the loan application process.

** APR is the Annual Percentage Rate. Your actual APR may be different. Your APR is based on multiple factors including your credit profile and the loan to value of the vehicle. APR ranges from 2.32% to 36.00% and is determined at the time of application. Lowest APR is based on loan amount of $45,000 and is available to borrowers with excellent credit and only in certain states. Advertised rates and fees are valid as of 8/5/2022 and are subject to change without notice. Lowest rate of 2.32% APR only available with a 36-month repayment term. Insurance savings will not result from lower APR.

Terms and Conditions apply. Caribou reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Participating lenders, rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether our lenders can make you a loan offer. If any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. If approved, your actual rate will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Offers not available in MA, MD, MS, NE, NV, WI, WV.

Insurance products offered through Bindable and Caribou Insurance Services, LLC. Caribou is working with Bindable who owns MyLifeProtected and MassDrive Insurance Group, LLC, the licensed agent for all products.