CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

VIN are car are NOT a match!

I just discovered that the VIN on my car is NOT for the car they sold me. It was a dealership. And I never would have found out if I hadn’t tried to shop for some auto parts on my own.

What do I do?

Ok, lets clarify something, does the VIN match the Title? Does the VIN Not match the paperwork?

If I were you, I would ask this question at the local police station, simply because something of a criminal nature may be involved, and you want to be sure to make it clear that you are not the source of a possible criminal situation. If you are the complainant, then the dealership will have to provide an explanation of how this happened.

1 Like

Yep agree. The VIN on your car is what counts. The VIN on your title is the error. They either brought out the wrong car or grabbed the wrong file but compare the two VINs to see if the cars match. If it wasn’t a new car though, the title might have been washed. I’d start with the local DMV who can look up the two and then go from there.

@missalisa - please tell us exactly what doesn’t match - the title? The sales contract? Was this for a new car? Is the car different from what you wanted?

Lots more details, please.

It happens. Vehicles on the lot are identified by stock number. It is easier for employees to remember a few stock numbers to retrieve keys for demonstration or to move cars.

Stock numbers and VINs can get mixed up, I have found vehicles on the lot that the stock number on the windshield did not match the stock number on the key tag. I don’t know which stock number matched the VIN in the dealers system.

Take the vehicle and the documents back to the dealer, they will have to straighten it out.

That happened to me when I bought my 97 Nissan PU. I took one out for a test drive, liked it and started to make the deal, then another salesman stepped in a claimed that he had sold that one. we found on still on the delivery truck being off loaded that was identical so I bought that one, but the sales department screwed up and I got the title for the the truck I originally drove.

The dealer noticed the error two weeks later when the original truck was actually being sold. The needed me to go to the DMV and get he paperwork straightened out. Since I live in a different county from the dealer, and I had a job, I took my sweet time about taking care of it. That tanked the second deal.

We still do not know what VIN does not match.
Other than paperwork there is the chance the vin tag on the door does not match the vin on the cowl/instrument panel. This could be a used car with a door that has been changed and door tag not removed. There often is a vin tag on a strut tower which can be checked.

There are a few places the VIN is located on the car. Which VIN plate are you comparing? Just for reference, I was getting my car emissions tested, and the emissions guy simply scanned the SKU code for the VIN on the door. He did ask me if the door was original before scanning. The VIN plate on the dash was too hard to read and verify. I knew the door was original, and had no problem. However, a couple had come in right behind me complaining the emissions report had the wrong VIN, and they couldn’t get the car registered. Turns out the door was replaced due to a wreck, and the wrong VIN was on the door plate. The emissions test machine took the VIN as scanned for the junked donor car.

Also, the VIN appears on a plate under the hood on some models, and there are hidden VIN locations on the car as well to try and thwart thieves and swindlers. My older Toyota also has the VIN etched on some of the glass panels. My Ford has a special tracking code etched on the glass instead of the VIN. I’m sure that if I ever got a glass panel replaced on the Toyota, that VIN number would be wrong.

VIN are car are NOT a match!

Obliviously people make mistakes, dealerships, and DMV’s can too.

I gave buyer the title and he immediately checked the dash vin tag. Easy with used car, private party sale. I give u money, u give me car, title.

Missalisa, in order to help you, we need more information.
Year, make, and model?
Did you buy the car new or used?
Exactly what didn’t match?

Give us something to work with and we’ll try to help.

Maybe this is another post and run; leaving everyone in the dark. What the OP better do is figure it out very quickly because if the VIN on the car doesn’t match the title the authorities will sort it out after an automobile accident or traffic stop; after the ensuing tow-in and impoundment.
In some cases, the vehicle is impounded and never released again; all depending.

I saw an iffy Subaru VIN at the shop one time. The dashboard and firewall VIN were one pair of numbers; the pair of numbers on the door jam and under the rear seat was another. Obviously a crash and splice job but could raise questions later on.

I’m thinking too that it might have been purchased as a used car and have had some repair work.
But unless the OP returns I guess I’ll just have to wonder forever.

I’m guessing from the lack of the OP response. This was not an actual problem.

I had a similar problem–I bought a 1961 Corvair as a second car. About a year after I purchased the car, my state put in a state inspection. The VIN number was on a plate at the left door pillar and was missing. I purchased the car from a dealer where I had purchased other cars. The dealer took a strip of brass and was able, with a set designed to stamp numbers into steel, attached a plate to the car. The dealer signed an affidavit and I took the car to the police station and a police officer signed off. I was able to then get the car through inspection. My guess is that the car may have been hit on the left side and the plate was never reattached.

I’m certainly glad I read all these replies about the VIN , I’m having problems myself. Mine says it cant be found. The title, paperwork from sale and tag all match. Now I have clues to where all to look if the VIN in the window doesn’t match. I purchased mine from an individual and am now trying to sell the truck and was wanting to check KBB for an idea on what to sell it for. Oh and it said there is no match to my license plate… I got a new plate when I bought the vehicle so I know it is correct. Odd I cant find anything on the VIN or my license. My truck is a 2000 so I shouldn’t be having this problem.

Your post is a little confusing. You say that all the paperwork matches the VIN in the window, yet somehow VINs can’t be found. Or is it that the VIN in the window doesn’t match the VIN in the paperwork. If it is the latter, I would write the paperwork VIN down and then write the window VIN below it and see what letters or numbers don’t match. It may be that you read one thing and the actual character is different. A “D” and a zero might be mistaken. Other letters and numbers can be mistaken too.

I wouldn’t worry about what KBB says. If you have a question, take the vehicle to a dealer for the vehicle and have them check the VIN for you. Odds are they will find it in the manufacturer database and give you the real VIN typed out so that you can’t misinterpret it. Then check it against the paperwork.

1 Like

I also don’t understand this OP. You don’t need any tag number or VIN to check value on Kelly Blue Book. If the tag agency issued a tag then there is no problem apparently.

1 Like

Hi. What if the imprinted VIN on the car is not what the car actually is?? We were trying to buy parts for our car and they kept coming back wrong. Long story short, the imprinted VIN on the car shows that it should be a different trim level AND an automatic. Our car is actually a 6-speed manual transmission and is a different trim level also. (For full clarification, we bought the car brand new from the dealership and the VIN imprinted on the car is what matches the paperwork and title…it just does not match what the car actually is.)