Title discrepancies

Help! Purchased 2003 2500 HD W/duramax. Didn’t run VIN number ( title did match vin plate on truck)(police ran vin to verify it was NOT stolen). Problem is vin is for a 2wd 1500!
I am guessing maybe a cab swap / replacement on the duramax chasis? Rivets on vin plate are stock ( there are special rivets for manufacturer vin plates).
So my problem will be (I assume) when I go to sell it, or heaven forbid… total it, insurance will go with the vin plate (lesser value of the 2wd 1500).
Looking for ideas. Absolutely love the truck and it’s condition…runs like a champ. Might consider “assembled” title? But not rebuilt.

Check the frame in the engine bay and see if it matches the one in the window.

I think you are correct, the cab is from a not-stolen 1500 pickup. But who knows the history of the 2500 HD chassis.

That said, the VINs all seem to to marked on the cab… base of windshield, drivers door pillar and firewall. Nothing on the frame I can find.

But, if you plug an OBDII reader into the truck, you can read the VIN from the Powertrain Control Module and THAT will tell you the VIN of at least the PCM and that should reflect the chassis’ actual VIN. That VIN will tell you stolen or not. At that point, you need a lawyer, not CarTalk!

Until you determine the actual VIN of the truck, it exists as a 1500 truck with a swapped Duramax. As far as insurance goes, it is a 1500 with whatever equipment the VIN number says the truck has. Otherwise, as long as the insurance company KNOWS and ACCEPTS that it is a Duramax swapped 1500 you are OK. Any adds they don’t know about are “too bad, so sad, we didn’t know, we won’t pay for that!” This is like putting $10,000 worth of accessories on your truck and getting it stolen. If your insurance company did not know you added $10K worth of goodies and charge you extra for insuring them, they are not covered.

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Thanks for the quick reply. It is a great place to start. Great advice about the insurance.

Your idea was the key. Plugged in a scanner and got a different VIN. Ran it on carfax and came up stolen
Turned it into the police. Looks like there was a donor “vin” tag, very neatly placed over the original. Even the detective was impressed with their work. Now I’m out the money…live and learn I guess.

I am so sorry to hear this. I feared this would be the case.

This shows that it pays to carry your OBD2 scanner with you to compare the VIN you see, vs the one you can read in the OBD2 and run a carfax on both… or walk away from the sale.

Again, sorry you caught caught up in this.

That’s an eye opener. Thanks for the heads up. Did you buy this truck from a private seller or a dealer? Either way, it’s worth going after them for your money. The police might help, since they would likely want to arrest them. The court system might go easier on them if you get your money back. I hope you can find them.

Carfax showed clean on vin Matching title and visible vin under windshield. Real vin was underneath. Almost like they cut it out of the donor vehicle. Then pulled the windshield for placing the donor vin over the top. Then replacement the windshield. Almost looks like permatex (flat black) Almost matched the dash.

I truly empathize with the OP’s plight, but I think that he can help other people to avoid similar situations by answering the following question: Was this purchased via Facebook?

I ask that question because someone who posts on a locally-oriented forum was similarly bamboozled because he trusted someone who posted the vehicle’s availability on Facebook.

Why would you ask questions that you don’t want the answer to…especially once you already paid to buy the truck? As long as you paid a reasonable market price for the vehicle, and checked the accessible VIN markings against the title, you have done everything you are legally obligated to do, and there is simply no reason to probe further.

You could have registered, insured, and driven the truck for years–even decades–using the VIN on the title, and probably never had any issues. Even in the unlikely event that the truck was destroyed in an accident at some point down the road, I do not believe that an insurance company is going to probe further than comparing the VIN on the title to the accessible VIN plates on the front cowl and driver’s door jamb. Certainly, they aren’t going to look for a “hidden” VIN in the PCM, which isn’t legally binding anyways, since used PCMs are bought and sold.

Because the purchase was a 2500 w/duramax and 4 x 4. Donor was 1500 2 wheel drive. Front end accident with damage to driveline would not be covered. Windshield replacement would uncover altered vin.

Maybe because the OP is honest.


Not asking appropriate questions and/or not taking appropriate actions in the wake of a scam like this could wind-up biting the OP in the butt for a second time.


There is nothing dishonest about doing the minimum which one is legally obligated to do, which for a used vehicle purchase relies upon the “reasonable person test”. In other words, if one buys a vehicle for less than its market value, and/or there are obvious signs that the VIN markings are counterfeit or altered, then it is presumed that the person is knowingly receiving (potentially) stolen property.

If one pays market value for a vehicle, and there are no obvious signs (to a layman) that the VIN markings are counterfeit or altered, then there is no legal responsibility to probe further, and in the unlikely event that the vehicle is/was stolen and/or altered at some point in the past, sufficient plausible denial exists to avoid any criminal charges. Similarly, if one purchase a used vehicle, and registers and insures it based upon the title and accessible VIN markings, if the vehicle is subsequently destroyed in an accident and/or the driver/passengers are injured, the insurance company is going to pay the claim, not search the chassis and PCM for hidden VIN markings.

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There clearly were obvious signs which is why the OP posted here in the first place. The VIN did not match the model.

There are legal considerations as you point out but there are also ethical considerations. Toss in the insurance considerations and the OP had a clear path to follow.


I agree, but–sadly–this is not clear to everyone.


Does former insurance co want it back?

Found on Craigslist

Thanks for replying!
That info gives me two places to avoid as venues for car-buying.

State police have it now. Evaluating everything. Because I ran a carfax on the original and donor vin (with the one coming up stolen), My lawyer said the police are almost certainly notified that somebody inquired about the stolen vin. Now that both vin’s are side by side on my carfax account, the police can wait for me to register the “donor” vin, and come to my address looking. For that kind of money I lost, a lawyer could costs as much, and if I lost, I could be buba’s bunkmate!..nope…not gonna happen

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