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Call 4 Action: Why you should always check your VIN

Posted: 4:08 PM, Jul 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-23 23:42:48-04
Answers to 5 trick questions from car dealers

A message from Lenz Truck to Jim and Wendy in November started what would be an eight-month saga over their Ford F-150 truck.

“We have a question on the 2016 F-150 you purchased from us,” said the salesman on a voicemail.

The truck the couple bought from the dealership about two years ago for nearly $34,000, the truck they paid off, the truck that’s parked in their driveway, they didn't own.

In a letter to the couple, Lenz said its vehicle "was involved in a clerical error at the time of purchase," and the company was given the wrong vehicle identification number — those 17 digits on their driver's side dash and door didn't match their paperwork.

“We were a little surprised, to say the least,” said Wendy.

To complicate matters, the couple's VIN belongs to a pool company's Ford F-150. That company is more than 100 miles away in Illinois.

“I’m thinking about the liability most of all. What happens if there's an accident on my side or the other owner's side?” said Jim.

The couple stopped driving the truck for that reason.

Angela Marion, executive director of the Community Insurance Information Center in Milwaukee, told TODAY'S TMJ4 if the couple informed their insurance company of the mix-up, they should be protected.

“The vehicle is listed on their policy. The vehicle is covered under their policy should anything occur,” said Marion.

After struggling to get this resolved, the couple contacted Call 4 Action for help. The Department of Transportation launched an investigation into the error. Finally, after eight months, the couple received a new title with the correct VIN for their truck.

“We were a little surprised, to say the least.” — Ford F-150 owner Wendy, whose vehicle originally had an incorrect VIN

“We thought it would be a quick fix,” said Wendy. With the pool company in Illinois, that complicated matters.

“I think it's a little too long to get it rectified, but given the circumstances, we're dealing with another state. It's just going to take a little longer than the normal process,” said Marion.

“Did you think to check a VIN?” TODAY’S TMJ4 asked Wendy.

“Heavens no!” she said.

She said she learned the hard way but wants to let others know how important it is to make sure the VIN on your vehicle matches your purchase paperwork.

Lenz Truck, the Department of Transportation and the pool company in Illinois declined on-camera interviews for this story.