The short answer is yes, all travel trailers have a VIN number.
Each VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of a travel trailer is unique to a specific vehicle, making identification easy. For simplicity, you can think of a VIN being a travel trailer’s fingerprint – each one is unique and is used to identify each one.
A VIN is used for tracking individual trailers, either for warranty claims or product recalls, vehicle registration, and insurance purposes. If your travel trailer is stolen, it is the VIN that will identify it as yours.
Where Can I See My VIN?
On a travel trailer the VIN will usually be on the front left corner, close to the base of the sidewall, near the driver’s half of the windshield. You can also check the cabinets and on the entry screen door as it is sometimes printed multiple times in the same trailer.
A metal plate with the VIN displayed is somewhere on the trailer tongue – the frame rail that attaches the hitch.
What Does The VIN Number Mean?
VINs are not a randomly chosen selection of seventeen characters. The character sequence and structure provides a lot of information about its vehicle.
Be aware: a lot of travel trailers and RVs have two VINs – one for the finished unit and one of the chassis which is the structural base framework of the vehicle.
Generally, the most important VIN to have access to is the number for the finished trailer as this will give the most information.
Below is the layout used most commonly by manufacturers. This can vary from company to company so do check with your travel trailer’s manufacturer for the most reliable information.
The first three characters will identify the company that made your travel trailer. This will always start with a number. A VIN that started with 5B4, for example, would identify the manufacturer of the travel trailer as Workhorse.
The fourth and fifth characters of the VIN identify the type of trailer. The fourth character will always be B for travel trailers. The fifth character confirms the make of the trailer.
The sixth character will identify the body type of the trailer. Look out for a 0 which will identify the body type on a travel trailer as recreational.
The seventh character gives the number of axles the vehicle has. 2 for two axles, 3 for three and so on.
The next character gives the code for the length of the travel trailer. If you see an M as the seventh character, for example, your trailer is 26-28 feet (7.9-8.5 metres) long.
The ninth character of the VIN is one of the most important as it is a check digit. This is the digit used by computers to quickly decide if there is an error or other issue with the VIN. As such, this character is sometimes referred to as a validation digit.
Character ten is the model year code. This can be either a number or a letter, depending on the year of manufacture. See below for more information.
All eleventh characters give the location of manufacture. A 1, for example, means that your trailer was made in Middlebury, Indiana.
Characters twelve and thirteen identify the model of your trailer, while the final four characters are the serial number.
How Do I Tell The Year Of My Trailer From The VIN?
Check the tenth character of your VIN for the model year of your trailer.
All models made from 1980 to 2000 are identified by a letter of the alphabet. A is 1980, B is 1981, and so on until Y which is used for models built in 2000.
For models manufactured from 2001 to 2009, a number is used in the VIN. 1 is 2001, 2 is 2002, and so on until 9 which represents 2009.
For travel trailers made after 2009, you go back to the beginning of the alphabet. A is 2010, B is 2011, and so on. While this may cause confusion in this context, in a practical setting a vehicle from 1980 would rarely be misidentified as one from 2010 as technology and design practices have evolved so much.
How Are VIN Numbers Structured?
- Section One is three characters and identifies the manufacturer of your travel trailer.
- Section Two is five characters long can vary slightly but will often give the brand of the trailer and engine type and size.
- Section Three is a single character and is a VIN validation check.
- Section Four gives the year of the model and serial number of the trailer, often also identifying the place where the vehicle was assembled. Character ten, in this Section, will always give the model year.
I Have A Vintage Camper, How Do I Read My VIN?
For those with trailers that were built before 1980, the VIN is a bit more complicated as there was no VIN standardisation for format or location in the camper.
The VIN was commonly located in the frame so check here first, otherwise you will have to do some searching!
To read a vintage VIN, you need to find the manufacturer’s own formula for creating a VIN.
My Vintage Travel Trailer Does Not Have A VIN, What Do I Do?
If you cannot find your VIN or it has worn off you will need to apply to the DMV office in your state to get a new VIN issued. Check the DMV website for your state to see how best to do this as it varies a good deal. Make sure you can provide proof of purchase for your vehicle as all DMVs will require this.