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Author Topic: Myth or Reality?: Vehicle Color Influences Insurance Rates
snopes
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http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20050725005060&newsLang=en
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Casey, making hot chocolate
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Reality, at least in my case. Playing with Progressive's site, putting my car as red increases the price, while claiming it is blue drops it slightly.

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Minstrel gone caroling
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I've never had an insurance company ask for my car's color. I'm pretty sure it's illegal in Michigan to change the rate based on car color. Of course, we have no-fault insurance here, so my rates are high already because I have to help pay for other people's bad driving. [Roll Eyes]

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ratface
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Insurers are required to file their rates with government regulators in all states and provinces. So while they could ask to use colour as a rate variable, it would likely be rejected. My job is to price auto insurance and I have never seen a study that showed claims costs are higher for a particular colour, not have I heard of such rating being implemented anywhere.

Casey - I'm pretty sure there was some other variable that you changed to cause the premium difference.

Minstrel - "no fault" simply means that you collect your settlement from your own insurer following an accident, regardless of who is at fault. The at-fault driver is still held accountable, and his rates will still go up. This should be on their list of "myths" too.

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WildaBeast
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One myth I heard is that certian colored cars get stopped for speeding more often than others. As I recall red cars supposedly get stopped the most, and grey cars get stopped the least. The way I heard it was that red cars "look like they're going faster," but from other threads I doubt "he looked like he was going too fast" is enough grounds for a ticket.

I suppose it's possible that some colors just stand out more, so an officer is more likely to notice the speeding red car than the speeding grey car.

Or maybe cars that are available in colors like bright red tend to be sportier cars, and cars are available in more conservative colors like grey tend to be family sedans. Maybe the sportier cars tend to be driven faster, and thus get more tickets.

I suppose if the thing about some colored cars getting more tickets were true (not that I think it is) there could be a correlation between color and insurance rates -- drivers of red cars get more tickets, drivers with more tickets have higher insurance rates.

Or, going back to the idea that maybe cars that are available in colors like bright red are generally sports cars, and insurance companies charge higher rates for sports cars, so there could be a correlation there even if insurance companies don't specifically take color into account.

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Damian
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Another myth I have heard is that traffic cops play "snooker". The rules are, supposedly, they have to book a red car, then a coloured car. Points are awarded for different colours, same as snooker. Therefore, red cars are more likely to be booked, and bookings of black cars are highly prized.

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Zipper69
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A contributing factor could be the changing fads of colours for cars. The motor industry publishes a list of the most and least popular colours each year (I wonder where?). So if a higher percentage of (say) red are bought then statistically more red cars will be stopped for traffic offences.
Certainly in guides to buying used they often say "avoid silver/white/green" etc as these are least popular and will lower the value on re-sale.

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Donna T
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I have several friends who are cops and WildaBeast's explanation is the closest I've heard from them. Alot of sports cars are red, sports car drivers generally like to show off their muscle, so yes the cops will pay closer attention to the red cars. That's not to say that grandma with the lead foot in the gray Olds, isn't going to be spotted. [Big Grin]

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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It makes sense that red and yellow cars are ticketed more often. Emergency vehicles are either red or yellow. Cars that require more discreteness like limos and secret service vehicles are black.

But I guess this is contrary to why insurance rates go up if the car is red.

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damsa
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quote:
Originally posted by Minstrel of the starry sea:
I've never had an insurance company ask for my car's color. I'm pretty sure it's illegal in Michigan to change the rate based on car color. Of course, we have no-fault insurance here, so my rates are high already because I have to help pay for other people's bad driving. [Roll Eyes]

The original car color is in the Vin number. So any body doing any Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware of that.
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Minstrel gone caroling
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quote:
Originally posted by ratface:
Minstrel - "no fault" simply means that you collect your settlement from your own insurer following an accident, regardless of who is at fault. The at-fault driver is still held accountable, and his rates will still go up. This should be on their list of "myths" too.

Yes, I know what no-fault insurance means. I also know that Michigan has a required Personal Injury Protection insurance which makes everyone's premium higher. It's sort of the medical portion of the no-fault.

quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
The original car color is in the Vin number. So any body doing any Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware of that.

It's not required to give the VIN just to get a rate quote.

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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You are required to give vin for car insurance. The quote is just that a quote. Then your policy gets sent to underwriters and then they check your driving record, credit rating, and others, so sometimes the quote and the actual rate is significantly different. The vin also contains the safety info like auto seatbelts, anti lock breaks. My point was that the insurance has your color even if they don't use it to base your rates.
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psykatt
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I'm pretty sure in some provinces here in Canada, color is a factor. I heard it was because of the cost of repainting a car once it's been in an accident. Apparently black and grey cost less than bright red, etc.
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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by psykatt:
I'm pretty sure in some provinces here in Canada, color is a factor. I heard it was because of the cost of repainting a car once it's been in an accident. Apparently black and grey cost less than bright red, etc.

Metallic and pearl colors cost more to paint than flat colors and harder to match. So I think that might have something to do with it.

Eta: I read the "article" then I realized that it was a press release by Progressive. From my experience Progressive having the lower rates is a myth, the difference between their online quote and my actual rate was 1200 a year. I was quote 150 and then I got something in the mail that it was actually 250.

Luckily Washington allows for cancelation of auto insurance. Also how would Progressive know what the underwriting policy of a competitor was. That would be some sort of anti trust violation in most industries, except that insurance companies are exempt from certain anti trust laws.

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Soviet Kitsch
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First time poster...

I think it may be a simple instance of "red is more noticeable so it catches police eyes more easily." On the other hand that's just what I think, and I would really be interested to talk to someone who's owned two of the same kind of car and find out if they were pulled over more often in the red one rather than the other color.

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ratface
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quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
quote:
Originally posted by Minstrel of the starry sea:
I've never had an insurance company ask for my car's color. I'm pretty sure it's illegal in Michigan to change the rate based on car color. Of course, we have no-fault insurance here, so my rates are high already because I have to help pay for other people's bad driving. [Roll Eyes]

The original car color is in the Vin number. So any body doing any Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware of that.
Do you have a source for that Damsa, or is it just something you heard? I know the 10th digit is the model year, and on some vehicles you can identify the trim level, engine type etc. in digits 4-8, but I've never heard of the colour being included.
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ratface
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
Originally posted by psykatt:
I'm pretty sure in some provinces here in Canada, color is a factor. I heard it was because of the cost of repainting a car once it's been in an accident. Apparently black and grey cost less than bright red, etc.

Don't know how to convince you psykatt, but that is simply not the case. There is a standard application form used for each province, and colour appears nowhere on any of them. Without knowing the colour, there is no way a company could use it in rating.
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Robigus, Frozen Mushroom
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quote:
Originally posted by ratface:
quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
quote:
Originally posted by Minstrel of the starry sea:
I've never had an insurance company ask for my car's color. I'm pretty sure it's illegal in Michigan to change the rate based on car color. Of course, we have no-fault insurance here, so my rates are high already because I have to help pay for other people's bad driving. [Roll Eyes]

The original car color is in the Vin number. So any body doing any Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware of that.
Do you have a source for that Damsa, or is it just something you heard? I know the 10th digit is the model year, and on some vehicles you can identify the trim level, engine type etc. in digits 4-8, but I've never heard of the colour being included.
Here is a generic decoding of VIN codes. Each manufacturer will have its own specific coding. From the website:
quote:
1st character- Identifies the country in which the vehicle was manufactured.
For example: U.S.A.(1or4), Canada(2), Mexico(3), Japan(J), Korea(K), England(S), Germany(W), Italy(Z)

2nd character- Identifies the manufacturer. For example; Audi(A),
BMW(B), Buick(4), Cadillac(6), Chevrolet(1), Chrysler(C), Dodge(B),
Ford(F), GM Canada(7), General Motors(G), Honda(H), Jaquar(A), Lincoln(L), Mercedes Benz(D), Mercury(M), Nissan(N), Oldsmobile(3), Pontiac(2or5), Plymouth(P), Saturn(8), Toyota(T), VW(V), Volvo(V).

3rd character- Identifies vehicle type or manufacturing division.

4th to 8th characters- Identifies vehicle features such as body style, engine type, model, series, etc.

9th character- Identifies VIN accuracy as check digit.

10th character- Identifies the model year. For example: 1988(J), 1989(K), 1990(L), 1991(M), 1992(N), 1993(P), 1994(R), 1995(S), 1996(T),
1997(V), 1998(W), 1999(X), 2000(Y)------2001(1), 2002(2), 2003(3)

11th character- Identifies the assembly plant for the vehicle.

12th to 17th characters- Identifies the sequence of the vehicle for production
as it rolled of the manufacturers assembly line.


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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
The original car color is in the Vin number. So any body doing any Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware of that.

But if you can legally change your car's color, what's the point? They don't change the VIN if you get your car painted, so how could anyone tell if the car was repainted after being stolen, or repainted by the legitimate owner?

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Joseph Z
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Regards to Robigus's posting:
What happened to 2005's year? (5)?
Guessing that article is outdated.
_____________________________________________
I always thought the insurance rates depended on how much your vehicle is likely to be stolen compared to who cares about it's color.

I mean it would probably work against red cars in Mexico during bull fights if the bull is trained onto that color from the (Mastador?).

Some people probably are afraid of going for bright colors just because it's too bright and standing out. I recently acquired a Chrysler PT Cruiser 2005 this Saturday. The guy asked what color I love, they had bright blue, dark blue, white, black, and a few other colors. I like blue but going for bright blue would probably dig up too much attention not to mention any dinks would show up on the car, so I picked a darker car.

Now if your going to ask why a PT Cruiser, because it's easier to park and can go for tailgate grills. [Wink]

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I think the way it works is your vin is hooked up to a database, where original color, options and such are. I went to get my car fixed, and then they give you a report on your car including liens , fire or water damage, original car color. I don't think the color is actually in the vin.

Your insurance will pay out less if you total the car if the body color of the car is different than original body color, as the car is worth less.

quote:

But if you can legally change your car's color, what's the point? They don't change the VIN if you get your car painted, so how could anyone tell if the car was repainted after being stolen, or repainted by the legitimate owner?

If someone steals a car and repaints the car. And tries to sell it using the original vin. The person is on notice that there is something wrong with the car, as you can pull up the car info on carfax.

Or if the thief switches the vin with another car. The buyer is on notice that the vin and the color of the car doesn't match. When you see a car ad on the internet and do a Vin search you can pull that info. If you see a car that has been painted, the value is questionable as it also implies that some sort of major body damage, or it might be stolen.

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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
quote:
But if you can legally change your car's color, what's the point? They don't change the VIN if you get your car painted, so how could anyone tell if the car was repainted after being stolen, or repainted by the legitimate owner?

If someone steals a car and repaints the car. And tries to sell it using the original vin. The person is on notice that there is something wrong with the car, as you can pull up the car info on carfax.
But how is that any different than if the legitimate owner has the car repainted? Won't they run into the same problem as the hypothetical thief?

quote:
Or if the thief switches the vin with another car. The buyer is on notice that the vin and the color of the car doesn't match. When you see a car ad on the internet and do a Vin search you can pull that info. If you see a car that has been painted, the value is questionable as it also implies that some sort of major body damage, or it might be stolen.
Since the VIN contains other information about the car - like it's year, make, and model - that can't be changed, I would think those not matching would be a more sufficient alert that the car was stolen. (Unless whoever changed the VIN knows about how they're coded, and changed them appropriately. In which case, they'd also know about the color coding, and would change that as well.)

Something about the notion of the VIN - a permanent part and identifier of the car - containing information about an aspect of the car that can easily and legally be changed by the legitimate owner just doesn't add up.

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react2distract
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A few years ago, late Nineties into early Oughts, I worked as a service writer in a garage slash body shop. As I recall it, finding the paint code on most domestic vehicles was a colossal pain, it could be on the sticker inside the driver's door, on a sticker in the glove-box, on a sticker in the trunk, etc.

We had software that would 'decode' the Vehicle ID Number, but to find the paint code, and thereby match the original body color when refinishing, we had to look elsewhere.

The manufacturer can probably use the VIN to determine vehicle color by accessing a database where that information can be found. I'm not sure the average insurance agent can do similarly.

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'59 Ford Wheelman
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Okay, guys, here's the deal on VINs: Prior to 1981 there was no such thing as a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Instead, cars basically had serial numbers which, prior to 1970, were located in various places: In the door jambs, under the hood, etc. In 1970 legislation required that they be visible to someone standing outside the vehicle, so they were moved to the left side of the dashboard at the bottom edge of the windshield, where they remain.

In 1981 legislation required that all vehicles have a standard 17-digit VIN (before that each manufacturer just made them up according to preference). Each of the 17 digits stands for something specific to the automobile. Here's the deal on that:

Sample VIN: 1FABP28A6FF143890

In the above VIN, the 1 is the nation of origin, the F is the manufacturer (eg, Ford) and the A is the vehicle type (eg, passenger car).

The BP28A is the vehicle description section, and each digit tells the following: Restrain system (B), model name (P), body type (2) and engine (8).

The ninth digit is, in fact, a check digit but tells nothing about the car. The tenth digit stands for the model year, which I believe someone else posted. The eleventh digit denotes the assembly plant of origin. Twelve through seventeen show the sequential (serial) number. So, no, the paint color is not in the VIN, and never was. It is, in fact, found on a sticker glued (usually to a door jamb) separate from the VIN plate, although this sticker usually has the VIN on it.

My VIN decoding information comes credit of the National Automobile Theft Bureau Passenger Vehicle Identification Manual, which is published annually.

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Yes, the person who changes car color has the same problems as a thief. There is a reason why when a person changes the color of the car, the value of the car goes down, provided the original car paint was in good condition.

The most common way that thieves "clean" their cars is by stealing other car's vin numbers which are of similar style and design. However since there is a database out there with the Vin number, and the original car color, when you pull a carfax

The potential buyer on the car knows something is wrong, because the color is wrong.

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OTL
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quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
Yes, the person who changes car color has the same problems as a thief. There is a reason why when a person changes the color of the car, the value of the car goes down, provided the original car paint was in good condition.

The most common way that thieves "clean" their cars is by stealing other car's vin numbers which are of similar style and design. However since there is a database out there with the Vin number, and the original car color, when you pull a carfax

The potential buyer on the car knows something is wrong, because the color is wrong.

And when the potential buyer then alerts the police to your "stolen" car, what then? Sorry, not buying this one at all. (Especially since there's been at least two posts explaining what the VIN numbers mean, and neither one included the color.)

Unless you can provide an actual cite for this claim, I'm dismissing it as false.

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Cervus
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Shouldn't re-painting a car sometimes increase its resale value, especially if the orignal paint has giant scratches, chips, or is just worn off?

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MsTami
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I don't drive and I've never owned a car, but my husband has owned:

1. A brown Lincoln
2. A blue van
3. A red Lumina
4. A yellow Granada
5. A red Sephia
6. A red Sunfire

The only one he ever got pulled over in was #1, and then for a loud muffler (though he never drives excessively fast, at least while I'm in the car)

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Soviet Kitsch
The Red and the Green Stamps


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OK, I've driven:
1) a white VW Cabrio
2) a maroon Honda Civic
3) a black Chevy Cavalier (for 3 days and it was a rental)
4) a blue toyota echo

civic=3 tickets over 3 years
cavalier=1 ticket in 3 days
echo=1 for me, one for my mom in a year and a half.
seems the cavalier would be our winner. it was also, however, the most "sporty" looking.

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Mr. Furious
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Since we're sharing...

1. Black 1980 Aries K Coupe (3 days in 1988)
2. Blue 1985 Ford Mustang (1989-1993)
3. Blue 1987 Honda Accord LX Sedan (1993-1995)
4. Black 1996 Honda Accord EX Coupe (1996-1999)
5. Black 2000 Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe (1999-2003)
6. Gold 2003 Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe (2003-2005)
7. Gold 2005 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Sedan (2005-)

Ticket Tally:

1. No tickets. Wrecked it 3 days after I bought it, my fault.
2. 1 speeding ticket. No accidents.
3. No tickets. 1 accident, my fault.
4. 3 tickets. First was a speeding ticket that was tossed by the magistrate (friend's uncle), second should've been a speeding ticket but the trooper gave me a break and cited me for a windshield obstruction instead. Couldn't get out of the third one. 1 accident, not my fault - I was rear-ended.
5. 1 speeding ticket, got a PJC and the three years have elapsed, so it's not on my record. No accidents.
6. No tickets. No accidents.
7. No tickets or accidents (knock on wood)

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'59 Ford Wheelman
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Cervus:
Shouldn't re-painting a car sometimes increase its resale value, especially if the orignal paint has giant scratches, chips, or is just worn off?

Global answer, yes. Narrowly defined answer: Maybe not.

A newer car with worn or damaged paint will gain resale value with a new paint job, and the gain should be commensurate with the quality of the paint job.

A classic or "special interest" car will also gain in value, but it will improve in value only if in the original color. Changing a silver '57 Chevy to "resale red" will, in fact, hurt its resale value, at least for car collectors. It will still bring a higher price than one with a bad or deteriorated paint job, but will bring less than the factory correct color.

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damsa
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
Yes, the person who changes car color has the same problems as a thief. There is a reason why when a person changes the color of the car, the value of the car goes down, provided the original car paint was in good condition.

The most common way that thieves "clean" their cars is by stealing other car's vin numbers which are of similar style and design. However since there is a database out there with the Vin number, and the original car color, when you pull a carfax

The potential buyer on the car knows something is wrong, because the color is wrong.

And when the potential buyer then alerts the police to your "stolen" car, what then? Sorry, not buying this one at all. (Especially since there's been at least two posts explaining what the VIN numbers mean, and neither one included the color.)

Unless you can provide an actual cite for this claim, I'm dismissing it as false.

Stolen Vins

So, my claim, is that using Vin, an insurance company can figure out the original car color. The VINs are on a national database. Thus a would be car thief would need to find a car and a car with a vin that are almost exactly a like including car color.

Although it is not strange to see an older car painted with new colors or a classic car. If you see a car being sold that is relatively new, like a 2004 Honda with a different car color than the one on carfax. It should give suspicions to the would be car buyer that there is something wrong with the car.

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Robigus, Frozen Mushroom
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
quote:
Originally posted by OTL:
quote:
Originally posted by damsa:
Yes, the person who changes car color has the same problems as a thief. There is a reason why when a person changes the color of the car, the value of the car goes down, provided the original car paint was in good condition.

The most common way that thieves "clean" their cars is by stealing other car's vin numbers which are of similar style and design. However since there is a database out there with the Vin number, and the original car color, when you pull a carfax

The potential buyer on the car knows something is wrong, because the color is wrong.

And when the potential buyer then alerts the police to your "stolen" car, what then? Sorry, not buying this one at all. (Especially since there's been at least two posts explaining what the VIN numbers mean, and neither one included the color.)

Unless you can provide an actual cite for this claim, I'm dismissing it as false.

Stolen Vins

So, my claim, is that using Vin, an insurance company can figure out the original car color. The VINs are on a national database. Thus a would be car thief would need to find a car and a car with a vin that are almost exactly a like including car color.

Although it is not strange to see an older car painted with new colors or a classic car. If you see a car being sold that is relatively new, like a 2004 Honda with a different car color than the one on carfax. It should give suspicions to the would be car buyer that there is something wrong with the car.

I am looking at a Carfax report on my 98 Chevy right now, and there is no mention anywhere in the report of the original vehicle color. Now, I know that the DMV records the vehicle color when it is registered. However, I can find no mention of the DMV sharing this information with insurance companies or other agencies. I must also say that I believe this to be mostly untrue.
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MsTami
Billy, Don't Be a Hero Sandwich


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quote:
Originally posted by MsTami:
I don't drive and I've never owned a car, but my husband has owned:

1. A brown Lincoln
2. A blue van
3. A red Lumina
4. A yellow Granada
5. A red Sephia
6. A red Sunfire

The only one he ever got pulled over in was #1, and then for a loud muffler (though he never drives excessively fast, at least while I'm in the car)

Ha Ha, the day I posted this he got pulled over [Smile]

Going 60 in a 55, no ticket though.

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Zipper69
I Saw Three Shipments


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Aaaargh - the Curse of Tami strikes erm...again?

--------------------
What shall be tomorrow think not of asking.
Each day that Fortune gives you, be it what it may, set down for gain.
(Horace)

Posts: 80 | From: Breda, Netherlands | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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