Imagine searching Copart casually when you find a 2021 Mercedes Maybach GLS 550, one of the most luxurious luxury SUVs on the market worth around $200,000. And this one has less than 400 miles on it.
But as your excitement grows, suddenly you spot this on the page “MISSING/ALTERED VIN.”
While that may sound a few alarm bells in your head, it shouldn’t. When a vehicle is stolen, one of the first thing thieves will do is try to deface or change the public VIN, which is visible in the corner of your windshield. When a vehicle is recovered, like this one was five months afterwards, the insurance company that already paid out for the loss works with Copart to get the vehicle reVINed.
The process varies from state to state. In New Jersey, where this Mercedes resides, we have to secure a salvage title, then request a letter from the DMV authorizing the vehicle to be assigned a new VIN, then notify the inspection station to set an appointment to have the new VIN installed. The process takes several weeks, even months. At the end of it all, this vehicle will be auctioned under a salvage title in New Jersey in compliance with state law that forbids selling a car without a valid VIN.
The new owner who wins this vehicle at auction can have the state assign it a clean title with a salvage history. New Jersey law requires that the value of the vehicle be more than the cost of repairs, which is the case with this Mercedes. With the new clean title, the owner can get the vehicle registered, insured and on the road. They can also sell it for a potential profit.
Laws differ from state to state, but each state has a process for which a car with a damaged or missing VIN can be restored to good legal standing. So if you came across this Mercedes and were skeptical because of the VIN damage, just add it to your Watchlist and we’ll let you know when it is reVINed and ready for sale. You can do the same with any other vehicle with such damage.
Now you know the meaning of this damage type and how to remedy it, don’t let a damaged VIN scare you away from the vehicles you want.