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What is a VIN number?
Vehicle Identification Number stands for "VIN". This vin number is a universal serial number provided to every car by the vehicle manufacturer. Within the 17-digit number are different codes that indicate the car's make and model, a serial number, where the vehicle was manufactured, and even information about optional add-ons such as a sun roof.

VIN Check Warnings

When buying a previously owned car, there are many ways for you to get a bad deal from both a dealer and a private seller.

Odometers may be rolled back thousands of miles. It is against the law in most states, but it is easy to do. It is still a major problem in used cars today.

Be wary if the previous owner will not or cannot show you the past repair records or identity of any former owners. If the title seems suspicious, go somewhere else.

If an auto is shipped from out-of-state or received in trade from another dealer.

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Used Car Warranty
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Extended car warranty

A Used Car Extended Warranty offers. An extended car warranty from a auto warranty company can be a lifesaver when your vehicle breaks down unexpectantly. A car warranty is much like insurance for auto repairs. It's a well known fact that used cars do not come with warranties - and many of them break down the first month of ownership!


Disguising Stolen Vehicles

Date: Mar 18, 2005
Contributor: Esmeralda Roseboro

Changed VINs Can Disguise Stolen Vehicles

Thieves are becoming even trickier about disguising stolen vehicles. That means even if you buy a car from a dealer, it could still be stolen.

Everything about Krista and Edgar Urbina is new. They are newlyweds, with a new home in Merritt Island, and to make life complete, they wanted a new car, a yellow Hummer.

They saw a used yellow Hummer for sale online, and it was cheap -- thousands of dollars under market value. The dealer was out of Rhode Island, and Krista and Edgar drove there to buy it.

"We drove to our friend's house and were like, 'Look what we got. Look at this car. And that night we went on the town, and it was just amazing, to be honest with you," Edgar Urbina said.

But five months later, they were amazed at the unbelievable turn of events. It all started when police spotted another Hummer for sale on the Internet. It was burned inside and out, but the last line of the ad really caught their eye. The vehicle identification number plate is not burned.

Translation? VIN for sale.

So why would anyone want to steal a VIN? Crooks buy and sell VINs for one reason only: to give stolen vehicles a whole new identity.

Stolen cars are considered hot potatoes. They're hard to sell and risky to drive. If a police officer pulls you over, and they run the VIN, you're busted. So crooks have become very creative, and what happened to the Urbinas could happen to you.

It turned out the Urbinas' beloved yellow Hummer had been stolen from a dealership in New Jersey, and the VIN was replaced. The crooks took the clean VIN number they bought from the owner of the burned out black Hummer and skillfully put it on the stolen yellow Hummer.

"You can see the VIN plate right here. Wow. That's a professional job right there," a police officer said.

The public VIN on the dash looked great, but the secret VINs didn't. They're usually stamped on by machine, but with the stolen yellow Hummer, the numbers were dotted on by hand.

"They were like, 'We have to seize your vehicle,'" Edgar Urbina said.

It was 3 a.m. when police hauled their yellow Hummer away. It was contraband, stolen property.

"We were heartbroken. The next day we woke up, and I wasn't sure this had really happened. I looked outside my window, and the Hummer was gone," Edgar Urbina said.

But guess what wasn't gone? Their car payments. Edgar and Krista still pay nearly $600 a month on a car that sits in a locked compound. The dealer washed his hands, claiming he didn't know it was stolen, and the Urbinas got no sympathy from their finance company. They owe $37,000. "It's terrible. Here we are having to put that money out, and we can't purchase another car because we still have this car payment on a vehicle we don't have," Krista Urbina said.

But the story does have a happy ending. It turns out Rhode Island has a law: If a dealer sells a stolen car, the consumer gets a refund.

The Urbinas got their refund last week and used it to buy another yellow Hummer.

So what can consumers do to protect themselves? Before buying a used car, especially an expensive high-end car, get it inspected. Professionals can tell if a car has had the VIN changed. The inspection will cost money, but in the end, it could save a lot of heartache.

For more information relating to "Disguising Stolen Vehicles", please visit our Disguising Stolen Vehicles page.

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