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The Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, is a unique code that provides information about a vehicle and its history. In this article, we’ll dive into if RVs and campers have VIN numbers (spoiler alert they do), where to find these numbers and why they are important to every RV owner.
- 1 Do RVs and Campers Have VIN Numbers?
- 2 Reasons You Need Your Camper’s VIN
- 3 Where to Find Your Camper’s VIN
- 4 How to Get a VIN Number for a Vintage RV
- 5 A Note about Motorhome VIN Numbers
Do RVs and Campers Have VIN Numbers?
Yes, just like cars, nearly all RVs and campers are assigned VIN numbers. These unique identifiers are crucial for registration, insurance and ownership purposes. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
- Vintage Models: Older models, especially those manufactured before the 1980s, might not have a VIN as the system was not standardized until later.
- DIY Campers: Self-built or custom RVs may not have a VIN. Typically, the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent in your state) will issue a VIN when you register the homemade vehicle.
- Truck Campers: Since truck campers do not have wheels, they are typically considered cargo not a vehicle. Therefore, most truck campers do not have VIN numbers.
Reasons You Need Your Camper’s VIN
Your camper’s VIN is more than just a series of numbers and letters; it’s an essential part of your vehicle’s identity. Here’s why it’s important:
- Registration and Insurance: For legal operation, your RV needs to be registered, and insurance companies require the VIN for policy issuance.
- Recalls and Warranties: The VIN helps in identifying if your RV is subject to any recalls or if it’s still under warranty.
- Resale and History: When selling or buying a used RV, the VIN can be used to check the vehicle’s history, including previous accidents or ownership.
Where to Find Your Camper’s VIN
Knowing the VIN of your RV or camper is crucial. Here’s what a VIN number looks like and where to find it on different types of RVs and campers.
What Does an RV VIN Number Look Like?
Typically, a VIN consists of 17 characters, including both letters and numbers. It is divided into three distinct sections:
- World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI): The first three characters identify the vehicle’s manufacturer and country of origin.
- Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS): Characters 4 through 9 (the 9th being a check digit) provide specific information about the vehicle, including the type, model, and engine size.
- Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS): The last eight characters (10 through 17) are particularly important for RVs and campers. This section includes the model year (10th character), the assembly plant (11th character), and a unique serial number (last six characters) that distinguishes each vehicle.
Check your Documents First
The easiest way to find your VIN number is to check your vehicle’s documents. The VIN number is listed on registration documents, insurance documents and your vehicle’s title.
If you do not have access to these documents and need to know the VIN number, use the below guide to find where the VIN number is located on your RV or camper.
How are VIN Numbers Printed on RVs and Campers?
VINs on RVs and campers are typically displayed on a VIN tag, usually a metal plate or a sticker.
- Metal Plate: Often riveted to the vehicle’s chassis or frame, metal plates are durable and resistant to wear and tear. They are engraved or stamped with the VIN and other relevant information. This method is common in many older models and some high-end newer models. The VIN can also be engraved directly on metal parts of the RV.
- Sticker: As you can see in the below pictures, most modern RVs and campers have stickers affixed to an interior or exterior wall. They are printed with the VIN and can include additional information like weight limits and manufacturing data. While convenient, stickers are prone to fading or peeling over time.
Where to Find the VIN Sticker or Plate on your RV?
There is no one place where a VIN number is located on your RV, but there are several common places to check. Below are several common VIN locations for each type of RV.
- Class A Motorhomes: On Class A motorhomes, a VIN sticker is often found on the driver’s side dashboard, visible through the windshield. It can also be located on a plate or sticker inside the driver’s door frame.
- Class B and C Motorhomes: For Class B and C motorhomes, the VIN is typically located in the same places as Class A – on the driver’s side dashboard or inside the door frame. In some models, it might also be found in the engine compartment.
- Travel Trailers: Travel trailers usually have the VIN located on the frame, near the front hitch. Often, it is on the left side (driver’s side) stamped on a metal plate or sticker. It’s essential to check around the hitch area if it’s not immediately visible.
- Fifth Wheel Campers: Like travel trailers, fifth wheel campers often have the VIN on the frame near the front of the RV. It can be on either side but is most commonly found on the left side. Checking around the entire hitch and front area is advisable if it’s not easily found.
- Pop-Up Campers and Tent Trailers: For pop-up campers and tent trailers, the VIN is usually located on the frame as well, either near the hitch or along the side frame rails. It’s often on a metal plate to protect it from the elements and wear.
- Toy Haulers: Toy haulers typically have the VIN in a similar location to travel trailers and fifth wheels, near the hitch on the frame.
- Teardrop and Small Campers: On smaller campers like teardrops, the VIN can usually be found on the frame near the hitch. Due to their compact size, the VIN plate or sticker is often easily visible.
Less Common VIN Locations
If you cannot locate the VIN in typical areas, you can also check the following places.
- Inside a cabinet inside the camper
- On the frame under the propane tanks
- Under the front or rear end of the trailer along the support bars
- Inside an outside storage compartment
- On the frame of the entrance door
- Under the kitchen sink
- Inside the engine compartment
What To Do Once you Find the VIN
Once you locate the VIN number on your RV or camper, take a photo. Especially if your RV’s information in on a sticker. These sticker fade and wear over time and likely will not be readable after a few years of camping.
How to Get a VIN Number for a Vintage RV
Initially, VINs were not standardized, making the process of obtaining one for a vintage RV a unique challenge. This section details process of finding or acquiring a VIN for a vintage RV, a critical step for restoration enthusiasts and collectors.
- Research the RV’s History: Start by gathering as much information as possible about the RV. Look for any existing documentation, old registration papers, or manufacturer’s records. This historical data can sometimes include a VIN or provide clues to its original issuance.
- Inspect the RV for Existing VIN: Before pursuing a new VIN, thoroughly inspect the RV. Check the dashboard, door frames, engine block, and other typical locations for a VIN plate or stamp. Older RVs might have the VIN in less conventional places, so a comprehensive search is vital.
- Contact the Manufacturer: If the RV’s brand is still operational, reach out to the manufacturer. They may have historical records and could assist in providing a VIN or guiding you on how to acquire one.
- Consult Vintage RV Communities: Engage with online forums or local clubs specializing in vintage RVs. Experienced members can offer valuable advice, share typical VIN locations, and provide guidance on navigating the VIN acquisition process.
- Verify Local Regulations: Each state has different requirements for assigning VINs to vintage vehicles. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent authority to understand the specific process, documentation needed, and any associated fees.
- Prepare Necessary Documentation: Collect all necessary paperwork, including proof of ownership (like a bill of sale), any existing historical documentation of the RV, and identification documents. Some states might also require an inspection report to verify the RV’s roadworthiness.
- Submit an Application for a New VIN: If no original VIN is found, you’ll need to apply for a new one. This typically involves filling out an application form provided by your local vehicle authority.
A Note about Motorhome VIN Numbers
It is important to note that Class A and Class C motorhome RVs may have two VIN numbers. This unique aspect often surprises new and even experienced RV owners.
The reason behind two VINs on some motorhomes lies in their construction. Typically, these motorhomes are built in two stages. First, a chassis manufacturer like Ford, Mercedes or Freightliner produces the base of the vehicle, which includes the engine, transmission, and wheels. This chassis is assigned a VIN, much like any standard vehicle.
In the second stage, an RV manufacturer takes this chassis and builds the living quarters on top of it. This addition transforms the basic chassis into a fully functional motorhome. Due to this significant modification, the RV manufacturer assigns a second VIN to represent the completed vehicle.
The manufacturer VIN number would be used for insurance and registering the vehicle. However, it is important to also know the chassis VIN, so you check the vehicle’s full history and track relevant recalls.
Thanks for reading our guide to camper and RV VIN numbers. We hope you were able to locate your RV’s VIN number.
For more essential RV tips, check out our beginner’s guide to RV camping.
Christina Pate is a seasoned full-time RVer who, along with her husband Justin, has journeyed across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Drawing from her extensive travels, RV repairs and RV renovations, she founded Travels with Ted to guide and inspire fellow RV enthusiasts. Christina is also the co-author of The Owner’s Guide to RV Maintenance and the creator of My RV Log Book.