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:
When you're scoping out your next vehicle at used car dealership or you're inspecting a private seller's car, there are a lot of factors to take into account. From hunting for signs of rust to checking the suspension doesn't feel like an old mattress, it can be hard to become acquainted with every detail of car in a few visits.
One of the things influencing your decision between a couple of options is compromise. Is it worth getting the car with a top notch stereo but a less than inspiring paint job? Or will you favour torque over horsepower? Whatever your tastes, there are some things you can't compromise on, and one of them is undoubtedly safety.
Upon receiving your Car History report, alongside registration and valuation details, you'll also see the car's ANCAP safety rating. While it would be nice to think that all cars are constructed to be equally safe on the road, not every vehicle is built to the same standard.
In order to shed light on the safety of different models, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) was formed by the US government to enable consumers to make more informed decisions when choosing a car. There are now international bodies of the NCAP across Europe, China, Latin America and of course Australia, where it's known as ANCAP.
ANCAP runs different vehicle models through a barrage of tests, to determine its star rating out of five, and encourages consumers to accept nothing less than the best safety rating. Here is what your car will have to withstand to earn it five stars.
This test simulates a two-car crash across the centre line of the road, where identical size cars travel at the same speed to collide on the drivers' sides. This test is achieved by having a car smash into an aluminium barrier at 64 km/h, intended to crush about 40 per cent of the car.
Side impact test
This simulates a side-on crash, such as a collision caused by a car turning into oncoming traffic from a driveway or at an intersection. A 950kg metal trolley is rammed into the side of the car at 50 km/h to see how well a car will protect its driver.
As the name suggests, this test aims to establish the injuries a car would cause were it to collide with a pedestrian at 40 km/h, using specially built pedestrian dummies. These type of accidents account for about 15 per cent of fatal crashes across Australasia, according to ANCAP.
Another self explanatory test, this simulation provides a real wake up call as to how well a car will protect its driver and passengers in the event it slides side-on into a pole or tree.
Using custom crash dummies, this test simulates a rear-end bumper bash to estimate the bodily effects on the passengers in the front vehicle.