Why are wrecked vehicles that are beyond repair sometimes in demand at auto auctions? For one reason: even after a severe crash their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) remains perfectly intact, and for thieves and those who work with them, that VIN can be a very valuable commodity. Why? Because it isn't too difficult a chore to substitute the VIN of a wrecked car for the VIN of a same make-and-model stolen car. The result is the stolen car gains a clean title and easily can be sold. According to the Auto Recyclers Association, this is a situation that should be outlawed.
The ARA believes that any motor vehicle suffering damage that equals 100 percent of its fair market value should be removed from the road, and the VIN should be terminated to prevent any future use. The association suggests this practice will protect innocent consumers from vehicle fraud.
Consumers generally believe that a vehicle "totaled" in an accident is prevented automatically from returning to the highways, but that is not the case. In fact, an overwhelming number of totaled vehicles find their way back onto the road. ARA estimates that 1.5 million wrecked vehicles a year are returned to service in the United States.