Table of Contents Show
- What Is a VIN Number?
- Under Which Circumstances Would I Need an RV VIN Number?
- Where to Find Your RV VIN
- How Do You Decode a VIN Number on an RV?
- Can You Look Up an RV by VIN Number?
- Can I Check an RV VIN Free?
- Now You’re Ready to Run an RV VIN Lookup
Purchasing a recreational vehicle can be expensive, so while shopping for the perfect rig, gather all the pertinent information you can. An RV VIN lookup can give you a thorough history of a trailer’s accident record, title history, and any regular maintenance performed.
But where can you find the VIN on a motorhome or fifth wheel? And how do you go about researching once you’ve found it?
We’ve put together a short tutorial on RV VINs and how they can help you dig deeper into your vehicle’s past.
What Is a VIN Number?
VIN stands for a vehicle identification number, and every vehicle has one. A VIN is like a fingerprint for vehicles, as no two are alike.
These 17 digits mix numbers and capital letters, except for vehicles manufactured before 1981.
Those motorized vehicles had VINs 11 to 17 digits long. Each number or letter has a specific meaning based on its grouping.
Under Which Circumstances Would I Need an RV VIN Number?
You’ll need to list your vehicle’s VIN when registering it for a license, establishing insurance, and for warranty claims. The VIN helps identify stolen cars and issue recalls to proper owners.
It can also follow a vehicle’s history, as with Carfax reports that list oil changes and routine maintenance. It can also tell you about repairs to a car or RV involved in an accident.
Insurance companies can also use the information provided by following the RV VIN lookup to raise premium rates if the vehicle was involved in an accident.
Where to Find Your RV VIN
You can usually find the VIN on the top of the vehicle’s dashboard on the driver’s side. Manufacturers stamp this on a metal plate, which you can read from outside the car through the windshield.
Other locations include on the engine firewall or a sticker or metal plate inside the driver’s side door jamb.
Motorized RVs may have two VINs if built in two stages. A VIN for the chassis identifies the vehicle and is usually on the dash. And a manufacturer may have created a second VIN for internal use.
You can find these throughout the RV. Putting these identifying numbers in several places can deter the theft of RV parts.
You’ll find the VIN for towable RVs on the left roadside front corner near the bottom of the sidewall. Or sometimes you’ll see them inside a cabinet or at the bottom of the screen door.
How Do You Decode a VIN Number on an RV?
A VIN is not just a random code. In fact, the different parts have specific reference points. Understanding these numbers can help you during an RV VIN lookup.
The first three digits designate the vehicle’s manufacturer, like Winnebago. The fourth digit tells you what type of RV it is (T for a travel trailer, etc.).
Then the next three digits are a unique identifier of your floor plan. The eighth digit tells you if the RV has one, two, or three axles, and the ninth digit is called the check digit.
It is automatically generated by the other digits in your VIN so authorities can check if it is authentic or a forgery.
The tenth digit represents the year of manufacture of your RV. Check it against a chart from the manufacturers. The eleventh digit is a code for the plant location where your recreational vehicle was built.
Finally, the following and final six numbers are the serial numbers for your RV created by the manufacturer.
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Can You Look Up an RV by VIN Number?
You can find any RV manufactured after 1982 by a VIN lookup. Plenty of companies sell that service online.
These businesses will offer reports about storm damage, accidents, and vehicle maintenance.
Additionally, some can provide title history searches and see if any liens exist. Here are a few of the best services that can use a VIN to give you a better picture of the vehicle you may want to purchase.
RVchex is the most RV-specific VIN lookup site and gives you detailed vehicle history reports on accidents, liens, odometer readings, and recalls.
They can also give you an idea of the value of your car or RV, and only costs $24.95 per report. RV VIN lookups give you essential information easily.
FaxVin is a paid service that researches VINs and offers reports on vehicle accident history, title history, and liens associated with the vehicle.
They’ll also have maintenance and service records, towing, and recalls if recorded. It costs $36 for six VIN reports.
NHTSA Recall Database
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a database accessible by the VIN or make and model.
It lists any recalls issued regarding the safety of a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire. The database includes autos, trucks, and RVs dating back to 1945.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free service to lookup RV VINs. It can determine if a vehicle has a record of insurance theft or as a salvage vehicle.
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Can I Check an RV VIN Free?
Yes, NICB is free of charge, allowing searches of five VINs per ISP address. You can also use VinPit and AutoCheck.
CarFax normally charges $40 for a report on VINs, but you can usually get a CarFax report for free through many dealerships.
Now You’re Ready to Run an RV VIN Lookup
With its unique fingerprint, you can have an RV’s history at your fingertips in no time. Using an RV VIN lookup through various services can give you an accurate report on its past. Learn about its accidents, liens, maintenance, and recalls.
You may even discover your rig’s current value, giving you more leverage when deciding on a price with the seller.
So knowing what to do with a VIN can provide you confidence that you’ll buy a dependable vehicle before you even take it out for a test drive.