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Legality of re-attached VIN tag?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Roger Walling, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Roger Walling
    Joined: Sep 26, 2010
    Posts: 1,146

    Roger Walling

    I am interested in purchasing a car that the VIN tag on the door jamb had been removed for painting and then re-attached with screws instead of the factory rivets.

    Has anyone had any problems with the registry or state police with a vehicle with an "altered" VIN?

    The car in question can be verified by the frame numbers but could the body could be conceited stolen by the state police if they wanted to make an issue out of it?
  2. willys1
    Joined: Oct 31, 2012
    Posts: 1,021

    from South Ga

    How old is the vehicle?
  3. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    Some vehicles had the body VIN tag attached with screws from the factory.
  4. wex65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2012
    Posts: 1,100

    from WV

    If this is the early C1 Corvette you mentioned in your other posts then read the replies that were provided there. They weren't attached with "factory rivets" but screws.


  5. mohr hp
    Joined: Nov 18, 2009
    Posts: 271

    mohr hp
    from Georgia

    I had a police detective friend dig through the laws when I lived in Wisconsin. No one can remove a VIN legally for any purpose. What's murky is how much of the area surrounding a VIN is needed to actually be the car the VIN designates.
  6. Don's Hot Rods
    Joined: Oct 7, 2005
    Posts: 8,319

    Don's Hot Rods
    from florida

    It could be a problem, depending on how your State views it. I saw a show on TV where they took some classic cars to an auction in Arizona and a team of inspectors from California cruised the lot for cars registered in California. They found some where the vin tags had been removed for painting, like yours, and were reattached with improper (non factory) rivets. They removed those cars from the sale and would not allow the sale to go forward on those particular cars until some research was done so they could be determined to be legit.

    I would call your State authorities and run this by them, they will be the final determiners. You might get some low level clerk who thinks any alteration is forbidden, but if you move up the food chain you might find someone who really knows the scoop.

  7. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    I've had this discussion before (Harleys). Here's the federal law.


    Exemptions to VIN tampering in Federal Law:

    (2) The persons referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection
    (A) a motor vehicle scrap processor or a motor vehicle
    demolisher who complies with applicable State law with respect to
    such vehicle or part;
    (B) a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal,
    obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for
    the repair;
    (C) a person who restores or replaces an identification number
    for such vehicle or part in accordance with applicable State law;
    (D) a person who removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a
    decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor
    Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, if that person is the owner of the
    motor vehicle, or is authorized to remove, obliterate, tamper with
    or alter the decal or device by--
    (i) the owner or his authorized agent;
    (ii) applicable State or local law; or
    (iii) regulations promulgated by the Attorney General to
    implement the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act.

    Then ya gotta check your state law.
  8. willys1
    Joined: Oct 31, 2012
    Posts: 1,021

    from South Ga

    Some states are MUCH worse than others. I believe in most states it is illegal to remove the plate for any reason. But here is a thought; If you can verify that your VIN matches the car, frame, engine, paper work etc, and the VIN "WAS" originally riveted: You can removed 1 screw at a time and replace it with the correct rivet, at least that way YOU never removed the VIN plate.
  9. Ralphies54
    Joined: Dec 18, 2009
    Posts: 742


    Roger, the vin tag on my truck and I'm sure your ttruck is on the glove box door. I drilled out and repainted door and replaced vin with S/S pop rivits. Then I used my Insurance Agent to do the Registration process and nobody questioned anything. Piece of cop ever got near the vehicle.
  10. Bigchuck
    Joined: Oct 23, 2007
    Posts: 1,141

    from Austin, TX

    If you do it right, who's gonna know. The reason for such laws against removing vin tags is obvious. Removing and replacing a vin tag on the same vehicle for repair or, restoration purposes should not be a crime.
  11. gtowagon
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 406


    Looks like corvette vin tags were attached with screws on the door post untill 1960 mid year and then were spot welded to the steering column. This information is from the corvette boards the Internet is your friend
  12. uncle buck
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 1,635

    uncle buck

    What wex said. If you really want to know more, you might even ask for more info on the Corvette c1 forum
  13. 62nova
    Joined: Jul 13, 2008
    Posts: 340


    Put rivets back in.
  14. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    But not if it's a pre-60 Corvette that came from the factory with screws. (Just did a 30 second web search) Or a 56 Ford pickup that also came with screwed on tag.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  15. Bluedot
    Joined: Oct 26, 2011
    Posts: 312


    It's kinda weird that to register a vehicle in this old car hobby, it seems like you're considered guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. There should be nothing wrong with removal and re-attachment of a VIN tag on the same vehicle when restoring/refurbishing.
    Here in Oklahoma, we are pretty fortunate in that the state contracts with local commercial/privately owned "tag agencies" for license renewals and vehicle registration. That gives us some choice about whom we deal with. Some of these tag agencies are much more rodder friendly than others. I feel for you guys who are stuck with the bureaucracy if a DMV.
  16. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,728


    I stopped an O.T. vehicle for speeding. It had been freshly painted and the Federal sticker looked like it had been removed and replaced. The vin on the firewall had hammer marks around it. The vin plate on the dash, even though it had correct rivet heads, looked like it was held on with melted plastic. I took my buck knife, slid it under the vin plate and twisted. Sure enough, it popped off. The car was impounded and the driver arrested. The hidden vin was found and the car had been stolen.
  17. toreadorxlt
    Joined: Feb 27, 2008
    Posts: 733

    from Nashua, NH

    you're putting too much thought into it. you'll be fine.
  18. Roger Walling
    Joined: Sep 26, 2010
    Posts: 1,146

    Roger Walling

    Thanks to all who have answered this post.

    From these posts I have found that it is not Illegal in MA. to remove or alter a VIN as long as there is no intention to deceive of fraud.

    It is illegal though, to sell a vehicle with a re-installed or altered VIN unless authorized by law to do so. This seems to me to leave a little gray area when selling as to whether it is legal if you tell the new owner or not. ???
  19. California is really strict about this. I can't say our state views it as perfectly legal, or if there are any state guidelines. All I know is California appears to broke to enforce much of anything. When we restore a car at the shop I work at, we find any numbers elsewhere on the car, write a statement about what we will do including numbers and provide photo documentation, photograph the removal, and I have a friend who is in law enforcement who we remove the tag in front of and he verifies all numbers. Depending on where the car is at there may be no issue that the tag was removed, the big thing here is why was the tag removed? Is there any documentation of this? If there are other numbers on the car do they jive with everything else? Will you be bringing the car home to an area that frowns on the way this was performed, and will that make a resale a living hell?
  20. Flat-Foot
    Joined: Jul 1, 2010
    Posts: 1,705

    from Locust NC

    One of our club members had to get a new number for this excact reason. The DMV guy said even though it was the correct number it was essentially void because the plate had been taken off.
  21. As long as the VIN matches the title, I don't see a problem. Yes, you (or someone) could do something illegal, but that is not your intent.

    It is best to just present the old title and get a new one and don't mention the VIN tag, but I guess that's too late.
  22. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547


    at the bodyshop I worked at in Illinois they called the state police and have a officer come out and verify the car before the tag was removed for repair purposes only and they took pictures of it , and they came back and reinstallled it after the work was done . and also put a repair vin tag in the door too .
  23. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,965

    from Michigan


    "Go ahead...put new rivets in it.
    That's what I did. It'll be fine."

    LOL!!! I just thougt that was funny. :D
  24. mechanic58
    Joined: Mar 21, 2010
    Posts: 681


    In all my years of car dealings - speaking of older cars here mostly - I have found that VIN tag issues and the "legalities" involved are somewhat like Fight Club. No one talks about fight club. So - if you're the only person that knows...well then I think you could probably figure out the rest of the story.
  25. bobwop
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 6,098


    I drove 380 miles to look at a car advertised on here.

    It was not quite as described. I had asked before going if the VIN matched the serial number tag on the car. It did.

    but he didn't tell me the tag was riveted on with pop rivets.

    all things considered, that was the straw that broke the camels back. I passed.

    drove 760 miles that day and came home empty. But I didn't make a mistake.

    That tag would not have been accepted at an auction and I doubt it would clear customs.

    If your frame serial number is readily visable, and they match, then I wouldn't be overly concerned. But if the frame number is a PITA to see, then I would have concern.
  26. 40FordGuy
    Joined: Mar 24, 2008
    Posts: 2,907


    Use steel rivets, and say nothing.

  27. gatz
    Joined: Jun 2, 2011
    Posts: 1,547


    had to look "promulgated" up...

    will I ever use the word in conversation? no
  28. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,661

    Larry T

    Yea, I said here it is, didn't say I understood it all. :D
  29. Car Fox
    Joined: Jul 28, 2013
    Posts: 27

    Car Fox

    My first job was working in a chop-shop we used to cut up cars and buy wrecks and rebody them . Then I was introduced into stealing cars and retagging them with vins of wrecked cars we purchased at auctions. An old-timer showed me a trick on how to make the star rivets from originals. Its not very hard and takes less than 30 seconds. Oh how times have changed. Its a Federal Offence to alter a vin and up to $10,000 fine , 5 years in jail or both and don't let me find out I'll turn your a$$ in, in a NY minute! Car Fox
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  30. cavman
    Joined: Mar 23, 2005
    Posts: 639


    I once heard of a local guy (a BIL of a friends sisters uncle :) ) that could switch door stickers, the ones that had #'s, just like they did in "Gone in 60 seconds" Not because the cars were "hot", but because of damage. Every one passed state inspectors. The same guy repaired an ot late model that had driven under a semi rr bumper and ripped the dash apart, he took pictures of the damage, cut a section of the dash off, hammered it flat and welded the section to a new cowl section. With the documentation, it too passed state inspection.

    If you are worried, ask the law, and get it in writing.

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