Last Updated on October 10, 2021 by Joe Regan
You wish to know how to switch VIN numbers on a car, right? Not to worry, this article highlights the various methods crooks employ to change the VIN on a stolen car also called VIN swapping.
VIN is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number, a set of unique numbers for identifying a vehicle. Without the VIN, a car has no identity. It is also one of the things thieves modify on stolen vehicles before they can legalize the stolen vehicles. There is no specific number of places VIN numbers can appear on a car; it can appear in at least 3 or 5 places in a car – windshield, side mirrors, etc.
To change VIN number on a stolen car, an offender or crook dealer can make the illegal act so clean. Even the police would be dumbfounded and short of ideas when the VIN modification is successful. Little wonder why multiple cars with the same VIN are occupying the roads. So, a car can have 2 VIN numbers.
Moreover, if someone has your VIN number, he/she can use it to give an identity to a stolen vehicle. Always be vigilant to keep people away from copying your VIN numbers in public.
Let’s discover some of the conventional methods of VIN switching on stolen vehicles.
How to Switch VIN Numbers On a Car
In this section, I will disclose how crooks switch or swap VINs on cars to make them legal.
Below are are the steps regarding how to switch VIN numbers on a car:
Strip and Run
The ‘Strip and Run’ method of VIN switching does not necessarily involve switching the VIN of a stolen car. Nonetheless, it is a less risky form of making a stolen car become clean. However, crooks would have to make payment by buying the car parts again with VIN that the motor authority puts out for auction.
After the offender steals a car, he scraps, and a crook dealer buys the parts. The parts imprinted with the VIN will be abandoned for the police to find. The police will then report that they just recovered the stolen car. They will permit the insurance to auction the car and the crook dealer will try to outbid others and win the bid. When he wins, he now has a complete set to rebuild and maintain the VIN of the stolen car.
The downside of the ‘Strip and Run’ is that it takes time. The police may take longer to find the parts with the VIN before permitting the insurance to auction the parts. Also, when the vehicle authorities put out the parts for sale, another junk dealer may outbid the crook. The crook dealer would have to buy from the bid winner at an inflated price.
The salvage switch is quite common regarding how to switch VINs on a car. It is a less time-consuming method of VIN changing but requires the crook to buy a badly damaged car similar to the stolen car. Of course, he will have to pay for the damaged car which has a salvaged title.
How does this VIN switch work? The crook will order a damaged car similar to the stolen model. He will use a false name for the car title, which is mostly undetectable. Now, the damaged car becomes a salvaged car with a salvaged title and he will transfer the title and VIN to the stolen car. The new fake title and VIN now point to the stolen car which makes the car unquestionable.
Cloning the VIN of a car is another method of changing the VIN of the car. Regarding how to change VIN on a vehicle via cloning, the crook will require the VIN plate stamping or engraving machine.
He will search for a legally registered vehicle similar to the stolen car. He copies out the VIN on the car and imprints the exact VIN on the stolen car. Crooks also respray the car to match with the color of the legally registered car.
This way, it is almost impossible to tell whether there is any VIN alteration or swap in the vehicle.
If you ever come across similar vehicle models with the same VINs, it should not be surprising.
Meanwhile, here are tips to avoid buying cloned cars.
How not to Buy a VIN-Switched Car
You can’t tell when there is a VIN switch on a car correctly. However, the tips below should help a bit.
How not to buy a VIN-switched car:
Inspect the Car for the VIN
Check the dashboard, car frame, title documents, and driver’s door sticker for the VIN. On rare occasions, crooks fail to modify the VIN on every part of a stolen car. You may be lucky to find that one part of the car carries a VIN different from the VINs on other parts.
Thoroughly Examine the VIN Plate
Check whether the plate has been tampered with. It will not be the case if the car was legalized without altering VIN. A poorly modified VIN plate may feature some old engraving which is a sign that the car is VIN-switched.
Check Up on CarFax
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles
If possible, contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles before paying for a used car. Find out whether there is any bad record surrounding the car you are about to buy.
Can a Car Have 2 VIN Numbers?
Ordinarily, a car can’t have two VINs. However, with the emergence of vehicle theft and VIN switching, a stolen car may have two VINs – the original and the switched VIN.
What Can Someone Do with My VIN Number?
The VIN of your car can be used by crooks to give false identities to stolen cars. It is the sole reason why you find multiple cars with the same VIN on the road.
Is it illegal to swap VIN numbers?
Yes, you can change the VIN of a car, but it is considered illegal and punishable by law. If you have a rickety vehicle for rebuilding, just make sure you do not tamper with the VIN.
It is illegal to alter the VIN of a car.
This article has highlighted the significant methods regarding how to change VIN on a car, also called VIN swapping. Crooks practice these methods on every stolen car and it works for them. Do not fear the exposure of your car’s VIN if you legally own the car.
Even if the police find out that your car bears the VIN of another vehicle (a stolen vehicle), your dealer will be able to provide clear proof that your car is legit.
Ultimately, endeavor to practice the appropriate measures to keep your car safe. Do not overly depend on the security features of your car as crooks may easily breach them.
I noticed that most persons refer to “VIN” as “VIN number”. VIN is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number. So, if you say “VIN number”, you are saying “Vehicle Identification Number Number”.
The mistake is evidence in some of the popular searches below:
- how to switch VIN numbers on a car
- how to change VIN number on a stolen car
Nonetheless, this error appears in this article for the sake of search engine optimization.
“VIN Switching: Identity Theft for Autos“. www.scambusters.org. Retrieved June 09, 2020.
“VIN Cloning: How Thieves Can Steal Your Car’s Identity“. www.abcnews.co.com. Retrieved April 7, 2020.