The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.
The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:
17 Feb 17
Have you ever considered buying a modified car? You'll likely have come across a few on your search for your next used car, but you might have disregarded them. While some modified cars aren't going to be worth your while, others certainly will be.
No matter what modifications have been made, if you check out a CarHistory report to help make an informed decision. Many modifications are removable, or at least reversible, and if you love everything about the car but think it's too low to the ground, or too loud, you can cost-effectively alter it with the help of a mechanic.
Why are modified cars such good value?
In many cases, a car has been modified by a real car enthusiast - this means that they will have done their utmost to make the car better in every way, not just look extreme or unique. If you're looking for a fast car, and you find a model that's had serious work done to the engine or turbocharger or transmission, it may be much faster than the original1.
What's more, many aesthetic modifications to a car don't add any real value, so you won't pay for that1. Things like aftermarket wheels and tinted windows can be difficult to get a hold of, so if your seller has already gone to the trouble of sourcing and installing these items, you could be getting a bargain.
What do you need to be wary of?
A lowered car might look great, but if the suspension hasn't been installed by a professional, it might be wobbly or unstable.
Of course, there are modifications that you should keep an eye out for - changes that won't positively affect the car, and could be dangerous in the long run. For example, a lowered car might look great, but if the suspension hasn't been installed by a professional, it might be wobbly or unstable2 and not effective at speed. On the other hand, a lifted car will have a higher centre of gravity, and so be less stable through corners2 - if you're not aware of the changes, you could tip the car.
Further, if you know the car has had work done, you should check that it has been completed by an experienced professional. If it was just done by a car lover in their driveway, they may not have installed the parts correctly, or wired it all up in the safest way1. A mechanic will be able to determine whether the modifications are safe.
Before you buy a modified, used car, check it out with a CarHistory report, and have a trusted mechanic look over all the work done.
1. AutoTrader. Buying a Used Car: Should I Buy a Car That's Been Modified? Accessed February 2017.
2. Consumer Reports. The pros and cons of modifying your car. Accessed February 2017.