When a VIN and Title Don't Match

by Katherine Hartman
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Every car made in 2010 is assigned a vehicle identification number (VIN). A VIN identifies each car, serving much like Social Security numbers for automobiles. Before purchasing a car, you should ensure the VIN on the car's windshield matches the VIN on the title you receive.


If you have purchased a car in which the VIN and title don't match, it could be a simple clerical error, or it could mean the car was stolen. This mismatch can lead to problems for the owner, especially if the owner decides to sell the car.

What To Do

Get an explanation from the seller for the discrepancy regarding the VIN. If the problem is not resolved to your satisfaction, take the vehicle to your state's inspection site, where the VIN can be checked. If the VIN is verified, obtain a form to fill out and submit to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have your title corrected.


If the database search of your VIN determines that the car was stolen, the owner is contacted and a report is forwarded to the state police. The owner must have the car inspected. If the inspection does not occur, the registration will be canceled, and the title will not be issued.

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