VIN Vandals Vilified

Donal Fagan
by Donal Fagan

">The New York Times reports that AG Michael Mukasey is getting sued. Not for anything to do with waterboarding; for non-compliance with a 1992 law requiring that VINs of totaled cars be recorded in a National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Despite that law being signed fifteen years ago, not all states participate, not all junkyards and insurance companies report as required, and unwitting consumers still end up with seriously wrecked cars that have been cosmetically rebuilt. Originally the DOT was supposed to protect unsuspecting folks just looking for a cheap ride, but it accomplished so little that Congress turned to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 1996. Now, three consumer groups are suing the DOJ. Some consumer advocates claim that insurance companies have impeded enforcement because they make a tidy profit selling salvage vehicles with no recorded crash history. Other advocates say the insurance industry has been cooperative. Yes, well, an alliance of state AGs sued State Farm for not reporting 30k titles, settling for $40m but no admission of guilt. [TTAC welcomes reader/architect Donal Fagan's first blog post]

Donal Fagan
Donal Fagan

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  • GS650G GS650G on Feb 11, 2008

    A friend checked his mustang on Carfax and none of the 4 reported accidents the car was in came up, including the one that totaled it. Clearly there is something going on here. A guy I know bought a Celica GT and had trouble with the front tires wearing out. Found a bent subframe that caused the tires to wear bad. Buyer beware really applies with used cars.

  • Glenn Swanson Glenn Swanson on Feb 11, 2008

    Congrats on your first TTAC blog, Donal! Nice job with that former train station in Naugatuck, CT. :-)

  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Feb 11, 2008

    @GS650G: You're right. Carfax is miles away from perfect. I think of it as necessary, but not sufficient. Accidents not reported to insurance companies, for example, don't factor in (how could they). Pay for that fender bender in cash? Never makes it to Carfax.

  • NN NN on Feb 11, 2008

    anybody know why a vehicle would have the door jam VIN information removed, and just a sticker that says "void"? I'm looking at a car that per Carfax was in an accident over a year ago, though the specifics aren't noted (accident in NJ). Car drives like new. seems as if it was sideswiped, as the doors on the driver's side look as if they could use a re-adjustment. I am wondering if the driver's door was replaced and that's why the VIN sticker is gone? Where else on the vehicle can I find the VIN number so that I can match it up with the CARFAX & the dash number and make sure this is a clean buy?