How to Verify the VIN on an Old Honda Motorcycle

by Brian Richards
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Before you buy a used Honda motorcycle, you should verify the vehicle identification number (VIN) associated with the bike. This information can be obtained from the seller, or from the bike itself when you inspect it. The VIN is the key to a vehicle's history, but stolen or fraudulent Honda motorcycles will not have a VIN that accurately reports the vehicle's history. Verify the VIN by comparing the numbers against the correct Honda formatting of VINs, and comparing the VIN against the appropriate state's records.

Step 1

Obtain the 17-character VIN from the motorcycle seller or from the motorcycle itself. The VIN is located in different places on different motorcycles, but will likely be located on both the right side of the frame near the steering stem, and on the back right edge of the rear engine case.

Step 2

Verify that the first character of the VIN matches the supposed location of the motorcycle's manufacture. A 1 or 4 means the motorcycle was manufactured in the United States, a 2 means Canada, 3 means Mexico, J means Japan, K means Korea, S means England, W means Germany and Z means Italy. Any other number or letter means that the motorcycle was manufactured in a country that does not host a Honda motorcycle manufacturing plant, meaning the VIN is fraudulent.

Step 3

Ensure that the second character is the letter H. This position refers to the vehicle's manufacturer, and H is the character for Honda vehicles. If the second character is different, it is likely that the VIN number was stolen from another vehicle.

Step 4

Inspect the 10th character of the VIN, which should match the model year of the Honda motorcycle. The code starts at number 1, which designates manufacture in the year 1971, and continues sequentially until 9 in the year 1979. The codes then start with the letter A in 1980, and continue through the alphabet (omitting I, O, Q, U and Z) until ending at Y in the year 2000. The characters then revert to numbers, starting with 1 in 2001 and continuing to 9 in 2009, and which point the character returns to a letter again with A representing 2010.

Step 5

Record the motorcycle's VIN, and contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state in which the motorcycle is supposedly registered. See Resources for a list of contact information. Report the VIN to the DMV and ask for the make and model of the vehicle associated with the VIN. The make and model should match the Honda motorcycle, and there should be no reports of theft associated with the VIN.

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