Since 2001, vehicles registered have been issued with Millennium Registrations. This saw a standard issue registration carrying a format of 2 letters, 2 numbers and 3 letters. Here, the first 2 letters are a regional code and the next 2 are an age identifier where every 6 months a new number format is used. Wondering what the last 3 letters represent? Well, these are just randomly assigned and often sequential amongst registrations. These codes are changed in March and September each year and in March this year we saw the new issue of the ’20’ series plates that will be issued until the end of August 2020.
Therefore, one can often tell the age of a vehicle just by knowing these codes. One of the benefits of a private registration is that it is possible to disguise the age of a vehicle by choosing a dateless private plate! So – what other ways are there to tell the age of a vehicle?
Well, firstly it is important to note that there are often two dates associated with a vehicle’s age. There is the year of manufacturer and the year a vehicle was first registered. Even a brand new vehicle may often have a build year of the prior year compared to the first registered year. This is due to the timings of the vehicle coming out of the factory and on the road for the first time or occasionally not been registered for some time. Generally, these are the same and the year of first registration should be used.
The V5 Registration Document
This document’s often referred to as a vehicle’s log book offers a wealth of information. Besides offering proof that the holder is a vehicle’s registered keeper as well as providing the necessary forms to update the DVLA of various changes it also provides explicit details of the vehicle.
The V5C has a section entitled ‘Vehicle Details’ – showing everything from the engine capacity and fuel type to the colour and weight of the car. This section also includes the full vehicle registration date. As a result, this document can be used to determine the age of a car.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
The VIN is a universally used serial number used by car manufacturers that uniquely identifies every vehicle made. This alphanumeric code describes the vehicles DNA giving such intricate details of the manufacturer, model, trim, where it was made and most importantly for us, the year of manufacturer. Whilst there is some differences on the positioning of information inside the VIN between Europe and North America, globally, the 10th digit represents the year. Currently, 2020 built vehicles will have a L. This letter sequentially increases each year.
On most vehicles the VIN plate is normally found in a clear section of the glass at the bottom right of the windscreen (when viewed from outside the vehicle). It can also be found on a metal plate that is inside the drivers door below the B pillar.
Another method to determine the age of a vehicle is to look the vehicle up online. Leading automotive website, Car.co.uk, provides an MOT Check service where, using this free tool, It is possible to enter the vehicle’s registration and amongst the wealth of information returned the year is shown.