Buying a motorhome is a big decision that requires caution and in-depth planning. This is particularly important for consumers in the market for a second-hand vehicle. Buying a pre-owned RV is a great way to save money, but you need to be sure that the seller is honest. What if the history of the trailer is not clean? The only way to know for sure is to run a VIN check.
Every vehicle in the United States, including RVs, ATVs, and motorcycles, has a special identifier. No two motorhomes may share the same number. The easiest way to find essential information is to do a trailer VIN lookup online. This simple precaution can prevent expensive mistakes. Find out about any damage, recalls, accidents, and defects in just a few clicks!
Where to Find the Number
As per NHTSA requirements, all trailers used for traveling on the road must be assigned a 17-character code. Each of the letters and digits denotes a particular piece of information. For example, the first three positions constitute the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Note that the codes of motorhomes in the United States never include letters i, o or q, as they are easily mixed up with numbers (1, 0 and 9, respectively).
Different manufacturers place VINs on different non-removable parts of their trailers. Most commonly, they are imprinted on the interior to prevent damage, so you could find them in the nooks or crannies. First, look for this 17-character sequence on:
- the tongue;
- the weight distribution bars;
- the hitch;
- around the door frames;
- the underside of the trailer in the front or rear;
- the exterior;
- the sides and bottoms of slide-outs.
If you see VINs on different parts of the vehicle, they must match. Otherwise, you could be looking at a compilation of parts of different vehicles or a trailer from the gray market. Double-check the code and write it down.
Where to Get the Report
The fastest way to obtain a history report is to run a check online. You will see if the trailer was involved in accidents, stolen or damaged by the elements. The full version also includes odometer readings, lien and repossession records, and other details.
Online reports are free or paid depending on their type. With a free check, you can decode the VIN — i.e., see trailer specifications. An in-depth history investigation is provided for a modest fee.
Alternatively, you could visit your local DMV branch. The price will depend on the state, and you will also be asked for your ID. The third possible source is any local dealership selling trailers of the same type. If it has a direct line of communication with the manufacturer, the staff may be able to provide a report. Otherwise, you will need to contact the auto manufacturer yourself.