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VIN Retirement

Federal VIN Retirement  

The Issue: ARA believes solving problems associated with severely damaged vehicles is truly one of the more important consumer issues Congress could address. A national solution is needed to address the twin tragedies that often arise when non-repairable vehicles damaged far beyond safe repair are sold at auto auctions to unscrupulous rebuilders or thieves who do bid high for wrecks and then profit from them through committing serious, even deadly, wrongs against consumers.

The Impact: A federal solution is needed to address these practices, one misusing the wreck and the other misusing the VIN, because mischievous bidding at insurance auto auctions in a state with effective laws against these practices can send a wreck's title papers to a different state for issuance of a new "clean" title. For example, Kentucky 's Department of Vehicle Regulation is regrettably allowing Florida Certificates of Destruction (COD) [which are not motor vehicle titles] to be converted to Kentucky salvage titles. Thus, Kentucky 's actions circumvent Florida 's law by enabling the vehicles to be placed back on American highways and roads.

ARA Position: Simply stated, severely damaged vehicles should not be rebuilt; these vehicles should only be used for parts or scrap and their VINs and corresponding paperwork should be removed from the system.

Furthermore, a severely damaged vehicle, ripe for the smelter, can still command a subs
tantial price. A buyer who wants only the VIN number and title documents so he can switch them onto a stolen vehicle of the same make and model might pay thousands. Based on estimates this "VIN switching" constitutes approximately fifteen percent of auto theft, approximately 225,000 thefts a year in the United States.

ARA considers a severely damaged vehicle as: (a) a vehicle that is incapable of safe operation for use on any street and wrecked or damaged to the extent that it has little or no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap or as a source of a vehicle identification number, or if (b) the vehicle has been irreversibly designated by its owner as a source of parts or scrap only, or if (c) the cost of repair of the vehicle equals or exceeds the fair retail market value of the vehicle immediately prior to the incident.

Additional Information:

Recent Federal Legislative Activity 

ARA Draft VIN Retirement Legislative Proposal (PDF)

ARA Staff Contact: Anthony Livingston, Director, Governmental Affairs at, or 703-385-1001 x18.



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