If you’ve ever purchased a car, you know the title has the (vehicle identification number) VIN printed on it. You need this code to then purchase insurance for the vehicle. The VIN is also on the owner’s manual and somewhere on the inside of the driver’s door or underneath the hood.
But did you know that RVs also have VINs?
They’re used for the same purposes as a standard vehicle. By law, every on-road vehicle must have a VIN. Let’s learn more about these unique vehicle fingerprints.
What Are VIN Numbers?
Every vehicle has a unique ID called a VIN. Even vehicles of the same make, model, and year will still have different VINs. In 1954, the automotive industry introduced the VIN system.
But since there was no standard way of creating up with the numbers, different manufacturers had their own format. In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fixed this inconsistency by standardizing the format. All on-road vehicles must have a 17-character VIN.
The first three characters are the manufacturer’s identification. The next six characters represent the vehicle descriptor section. Sometimes this includes the body style and engine type. The 10th character is the model year, and the 11th character is the plant code where the vehicle was built. The last few characters make up the vehicle’s serial or production number.
VINs help consumers learn about safety recalls. They help potential buyers research whether or not a vehicle has been in an accident. VINs also help mechanics and technicians order the correct parts for repairs. Because every VIN is unique, it’s like a vehicle’s fingerprint.
Do RVs Have VIN Numbers?
RVs have VINs, but the sequence is different from standard vehicles. This includes all types of RVs, from travel trailers to Class A motorhomes. When you put insurance on your RV, you have to give the agent your VIN.
When purchasing a used RV, the VIN can help a prospective buyer learn more about it and if the seller is being truthful about the RV’s history. Insurance claims, accident reports, and more can be found by looking up a VIN. Just like with a standard vehicle, if a manufacturer has a recall, the VIN will help consumers know if their RV is part of the recall.
The VIN includes certain characters that represent the manufacturer, brand, product line, style, year, and plant. If you own an RV made before the 1980s before the standardization, your VIN may look completely different and located in an unusual place.
Did You Know: You can use your VIN number to uncover a lot of information. This is How to Find Towing Capacity by VIN.
Where Is the VIN Number on an RV?
The VIN will be on the frame of a travel trailer, typically towards the front of the unit near the tongue. It could also be located on an axle, inside the entry door, or in a storage compartment.
Motorhomes will usually have two VINs – one for the chassis itself and one for the coach. Most of the time, you can find the VIN for the coach printed on the dashboard, inside the driver’s door or passenger’s door, or in the steering column.
The RV manual and title will also have the VIN. As mentioned above, if you own a vintage RV, it might take some digging to locate your VIN.
How Do I Look Up a VIN Number?
There are numerous websites, some free and some at a cost, that allow you to look up information about a VIN. For example, you can go to the NHTSA website to look up recalls and get alerts sent to your phone. DMV offices can look up a VIN if you want to know if an RV has been stolen.
Other websites like FAXVIN will do a VIN look-up and provide a full damage and repair history.
Is the Length of a Camper in a VIN Number?
The sixth and seventh characters in a VIN should tell you the length of a camper. The number of axles will be the next character in the eighth spot. The VIN also includes the company ID, product line, and production plant. The last six characters contain the camper’s serial number.
This is good information to know when ordering parts.
Do Motorhomes Have Two VIN Numbers?
As mentioned above, motorhomes have two VINs because one is from the third-party chassis manufacturer. Some RV brands buy chassis from other companies like Ford or Mercedes.
These arrive at the manufacturing plant with VINs. Once the coach is on top of the chassis, the manufacturer puts another VIN on the finished product. This is the VIN you want to use when doing a VIN look-up for recalls.
Pro Tip: We uncovered Can You Find a Vehicle Owner by License Plate? Take a look!
What Is the Best Free VIN Check Website?
Although every vehicle is assigned a unique VIN code, this number doesn’t tell you everything about the vehicle. If anyone has done some custom work or added optional equipment before the final purchase, you won’t see it in the VIN. So even though you can tell a lot from a vehicle’s VIN, it won’t tell the whole story.
If you want to know more about your RV’s VIN, check out the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s website for a free check. FAVIN offers a free report, but the paid report provides much more detail about the vehicle.
Have you ever checked a vehicle’s VIN online? Would you know where to look to find the VIN if you needed to?
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