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May 26, 2016

Minnesota Vehicle Identification Numbers
Where do you get a VIN check in the state of Minnesota?

The Minnesota Attorney General recommends that consumers conduct a vehicle history search before purchasing a car. This can be done through various methods and companies, but you can easily check the status of your title online or at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services.

Driver and Vehicle Services – Central Office

Town Square Building

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 168

Saint Paul, MN 55101-5168

Driver and Vehicle Services Renewal

P.O. Box 64587

St. Paul, MN 55164-0587

Motor Vehicle: (651) 297-2126

Office Locations (651) 297-2005

There are quite a few companies which advertise that they run VIN and/or license plate checks in the state of Minnesota, some of which cost money and some which provide a certain number of free searches per IP address in a 24 hour period.

One of the more complete VIN checks that you can get is from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. NMVTIS is a database which provides data on cars that have been in recycling yards, junkyards, and salvage yards. They provide information in five key areas which are associated with auto fraud and theft:

  1. Current State Title and Last Title Date;
  2. Brand History – these are descriptive labels applied by motor vehicle titling agencies and include the terms “junk,” “salvage,” and “flood.” This helps protect consumers from purchasing a damaged vehicle without knowing the condition of the car. In Minnesota, which allows consumers to purchase “rebuilt” cars, knowing the history and the “brand” of a car may save you from paying far more than a vehicle is worth or from buying a vehicle which is unsafe or has the potential to be unsafe due to its history;
  3. Odometer Reading – people have been known to “roll the odometer back” to decrease the appearance of miles on a vehicle. This makes the vehicle appear to be worth more than it is worth, and it may also cause a consumer to purchase a vehicle which is unsafe. Odometer readings are recorded at the transfer of the title, so it can be a useful tool to check for any discrepancies of the vehicle’s history;
  4. Total Loss History – when a vehicle has been declared a total loss it has had severe damage. Knowing this information could save a consumer from paying more than what the vehicle is worth or from purchasing a vehicle which is unsafe; and
  5. Salvage History – vehicles with a salvage history have had severe damage. Knowing this information could save you money or save you from purchasing a car that is unsafe.

The data reported to NMVTIS must be reported on every vehicle which they receive into inventory each month and includes:

  • The name, address, and contact information for the reporting entity;
  • VIN;
  • Date the automobile was obtained;
  • Name of the individual or entity from whom automobile was obtained (this information is only to be used by law enforcement and other government agencies);
  • A statement of whether the automobile was crushed or disposed of, offered for sale, or other purposes; and
  • Whether the vehicle is intended for export out of the United States.

There is also a database, VINcheck, which is run by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and recommended by the state of Minnesota. They provide VIN checks to the public which will tell you if the car has been reported stolen and not found, and if the vehicle has been in a salvage yard. Minnesota also recommends using a private agency, i.e. Carfax, for a vehicle history check, conducting a physical inspection, taking the car on a test drive, and getting an independent inspection.

If you purchase a car and believe that you have been the victim of fraud you are asked to contact the National Insurance Crime Board by:

  • Texting the keyword “FRAUD” to TIP411 (847411);
  • Call 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422); or
  • Submit a form online.

Consumers should report unlicensed dealers to the Department of Public Safety:

Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Driver and Vehicle Services Dealer Unit

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 186

Saint Paul, MN 55101

651-201-7800

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services FAQs about titles:

Driver and Vehicle Services

Office of the Attorney General of Minnesota

To check the status of a title in Minnesota online

E-mail address to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services: DVS.motor.vehicles@state.mn.us

Online Services in Minnesota

VIN Check

Title and License Plate checks in Minnesota:

Minnesota VIN Check

Vehicle Recalls by VIN:

NHTSA

NMVTIS

instaVIN

NICB:

VINCheck

Reporting Fraud to NICB

NICB Online Fraud form

Why are VIN checks so important in Minnesota?

VIN fraud is illegal and is a felony in both the state of Minnesota and in the United States, and this includes when the VIN is removed during the restoration of a car. One of the best ways to not become the victim of vehicle fraud is to obtain a Vehicle History Report, which will include information such as:

  • Information on the past owners, including:
    • The number of owners the car has had; and
    • The odometer readings at the time of each change in ownership.
  • Whether there are liens on the vehicle – if you purchase a vehicle which has liens against it then you may be unwittingly assuming those loans when you buy the vehicle. This can even include liens such as child support which are tied to the owner of the car and not to the car itself;
  • Brand History – such as if the car was every used as a police car or a taxi;
  • Title and accident history – this will usually include any accident reports, information regarding whether the car was involved in a flood, whether the car has been in a salvage yard, and will also tell you the name of the legal owner of the car;
  • Odometer settings and rollback alerts – sellers of cars have been known to “rollback” the numbers on the odometer so that the car appears to have lower mileage which increases the value of the car; and
  • “Lemon” determination – a VIN check will alert you if your car has been deemed a “lemon” and been repurchased by the manufacturer.

Some VIN checks may even tell you information as specific as the dates of servicing of the vehicle or if it has previously been sold at an auction.

State of Minnesota Lemon Law:

2017 Minnesota Statutes

United States Department of Justice

Lemon Law in Minnesota

Lemon laws in the State of Minnesota are found in the 2017 Minnesota Statues, Trade Regulations, Consumer Protection, Chapter 325F, Section 325F.655. The lemon law in Minnesota covers consumers who fall into one of these categories:

  • The purchaser or lessee of a new motor vehicle to be used for personal, family, or household purposes at least 40% of the time. The purchaser must not be one who is purchasing or leasing a vehicle to resell or sublease the vehicle;
  • A person to whom the new motor vehicle is transferred for the same purposes during the duration of the manufacturer’s written warranty; or
  • A licensed ambulance service that purchased or leased a new ambulance or a person to whom the ambulance is transferred for the same purpose during the duration of the manufacturer’s written warranty.

In effect, this means that the vehicle is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty whether it is sold or not.

The vehicles covered by the Minnesota lemon law must meet the following conditions:

  • A vehicle used for personal transportation at least 40% of the time and, if leased, the terms of the lease must be longer than four (4) months.

    The law covers passenger automobiles, pickups, and vans. The motor vehicle chassis or van portion of an RV is also covered – this is important because if the defect occurs in a portions of the chassis and van which is covered by the warranty, the entire RV may be subject to replacement; however, the living area and other areas in an RV which may have been added by the RV manufacturer are not covered. Used vehicles are covered as long as they still are under the original manufacturer’s warranty. Unlike some state, in Minnesota the law does apply to vehicle converters.

For a vehicle to be covered, the defect must be reported within the warranty period or two years, whichever comes first. If you report the defect within this period and continue to have problems with the same defect you are able to make a claim until the end of the third year.

Vehicles which are not covered by the Lemon Law include those which:

  • The problems or issues with the vehicle do not impact the vehicle’s use or its value; and
  • The problem is a result of neglect, abuse, or unauthorized vehicle alterations.

To qualify as a lemon in the state of Minnesota, the vehicle must have a defect which is covered by the warranty that:

  • The manufacturer has made at least four (4) attempts to repair;
  • The manufacturer has made at least one (1) attempt to repair (if the defect is related to the brakes or steering and is therefore a danger to drive; OR
  • The defect has caused the vehicle to be out of service due to repairs for at least 30 cumulative days.

This is what the Attorney General calls the “Manufacturer’s Duty to Repair or Replace” and under the Minnesota law if the manufacturer or its authorized dealer has been unable to repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts (which is defined above) then you may have the right to a manufacturer’s arbitration program or court for a lemon law claim. Even if your repair history does not fall into one of the above categories then you may still have a lemon law claim, although it will be harder to prove.

Once you realize that your car has a continuous problem and that attempts to fix it have been unsuccessful, you should contact the manufacturer or the authorized retailer via certified mail with return receipt and specifically state that your car is a lemon and that you want a refund or a replacement under Minnesota’s Lemon Law. This is a necessary step as it:

  • Informs the company that there is a problem and that it is serious and allows the company an opportunity to fix the defect (after the certified letter the manufacturer gets one more chance to fix the problem); and
  • Informs the company that you will be using the lemon law if the defect is not properly repaired.

Many manufacturers have arbitration systems to resolve lemon law disputes and the state of Minnesota requires that manufacturers of new motor vehicles provide purchasers of new motor vehicles with a cost-free informal dispute resolution system. The decision of the dispute resolution system is binding to the manufacturer but not to the consumer. The Minnesota Attorney General has a list of car manufacturers which have an informal dispute resolution system for automobiles to meet certain state guidelines, but some manufacturers will arbitrate beyond the legal limits set by the Minnesota. If you have any questions about a manufacturer’s arbitration program you should check with either the manufacturer or the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.

The Minnesota Attorney General requires car manufacturers to have an arbitration program that handles consumer’s warranty related disputes. Arbitrators can consider arguments based on the lemon law, but they are not judges and are therefore not required to base their decision on the law the same way that a judge would. If it is required by the manufacturer then a consumer must first go through the arbitration program before they can file a lawsuit under the lemon law.

Consumer Rights During the Arbitration Process:

  • Lemon Law Information – both you and the arbitrator must receive a copy of this brochure from the manufacturer’s arbitration program;
  • Lemon Law Arguments;
  • Documents – you are entitled to copies of all documents submitted to the arbitration program and you have the opportunity to comment on any of the document produced. You even have the right to request a postponement of the arbitration if the documents presented to you have not been provided to you before;
  • Oral Presentation – You have the opportunity to make an oral presentation to the arbitrators, unless you agree to a telephone arbitration or to submit the case on the basis of documents alone. If the case is based on documents alone then the manufacturer is not permitted to make a presentation that would change the resolution. You may get better results if you make a personal oral presentation to the arbitrators;
  • Independent Appraisal – you must be given an opportunity to get an independent appraisal, paid for by you, which goes against any manufacturer claim that your vehicle does not have a problem;
  • Repair Attempts – you must be given the chance to inform the arbitrator about the results of the most recent repair attempt by the manufacturer;
  • Service Bulletin – you must be given any technical bulletins that the manufacturer knows would apply directly to the specific defect with your vehicle. The cost of this bulletin must be reasonable;
  • Attorney – you have the right to be represented by an attorney during the arbitration process. Attorney fees during the arbitration process are not recoverable under the lemon law;
  • Arbitration Decision – you are not bound by the decision of the arbitrator unless you agree to be. Many manufacturers agree to be bound by the decision though. If you chose to proceed with a lawsuit then you must do so within six months of the decision;
  • Refund Amount – If you win the arbitration you are entitled to the same amount of money that you would have received had you won in a court; and
  • Bad Faith Appeal – if a court determines that either you or the manufacturer acted in bad faith when you appealed an arbitration decision, the winner of the court case may be entitled to three time the actual damages in addition to attorney fees and court costs.

The Better Business Bureau handles many of the complaints in the arbitration cases and even has phone numbers available for complaints.

  • Contact the national BBB to file lemon law complains against certain manufacturers at (800) 955-5100. (The BBB administers arbitration programs for: Acura, Audi, Bentley (Rolls-Royce), BMW, Ducati, Ford Motors (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury), General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC Truck, Pontiac, Saturn), Honda, Hyundai (Genesis), Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lotus, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini Cooper, Mobility Ventures (AM General), Nissan, Oldsmobile, Subaru, Volkswagen, and Volvo.);
  • For complaints against FCA US (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) – (866)-662-4639;
  • Toyota (Lexus) – (800) 777-8119;
  • Mitsubishi – (866) 662-8119;
  • Porsche – (800) 279-5343′
  • Suzuki – (866) 662-4639; and
  • Tesla – (866) 629-3204.

If you decide to sue then you must file the suit within three years of the date of the original delivery of the vehicle. If you participate in a manufacturer’s arbitration program then you have six months to appeal in court while the company has only 30 days.

Minnesota State Lemon Law

Minnesota Lemon Laws

The Lemon Law Attorney

Better Business Bureau Information regarding Minnesota’s Lemon Law

DMV.org information on Minnesota’s Lemon Law:

Lemon Law in Minnesota

Lemon Law information from the Minnesota Attorney General

Lemon Law Arbitration by the Minnesota Attorney General

Curbstoning

Curbstoning is a term used for an auto dealer who sells buys and sells large quantities of used cars without getting a proper license. They often put vehicles on the side of the road with “For Sale” signs in the windows and appear to be honest, private individuals who just happen to have a used car for sale. Curbstoning is illegal in Minnesota as these individuals may not hold the title to the vehicles that they are selling. They are also known to roll back the odometers or by selling previously wrecked, salvaged, or stolen vehicles. A person who sells more than five motor vehicles in a 12-month period is generally considered to be in the business of selling vehicles and must be licensed with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The FTC also frowns on curbstoning and requires used car salesman to display a “Buyers Guide” in a prominent place.

If you think that you are dealing with a curbstoner you should look for these signs:

  • The vehicle is priced well below the market value;
  • The seller’s name is not on the title;
  • The seller’s name or phone number appears more than once on a website or in the classifieds;
  • The seller asks you to meet him somewhere other than his or her residence;
  • The vehicle is for sale on the roadside or in a parking lot; and
  • The seller doesn’t own the vehicle or claims to be selling it for a friend or a relative.

If you believe that you are dealing with a curbstoner or an unlicensed car dealer, you should report them to the Department of Public Safety:

Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Driver and Vehicle Services Dealer Unit

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 186

Saint Paul, MN 55101

(651) 201-7800

“Curbstoning” by the Minnesota Attorney General

Website to report curbstoners or unlicensed car dealers:

Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Do you need to hire an attorney for a lemon law case in Minnesota?

While it is not necessary to hire an attorney for a lemon law case, it may be a wise decision depending on the amount of time that you are able to commit to fighting a large company and your knowledge of the law and the legal system. If you do not have an attorney, the Minnesota Bar Association has a Lawyer Locator Service that you can contact at (502) 564-3795 or via their website.

You are searching for an attorney who:

  • Seek experienced attorneys – A Minnesota lawyer who specializes in lemon law cases will have specialized knowledge in relevant Minnesota laws and procedures;
  • Comes highly recommended – ask friends and family if they know any good attorneys. Ask for a recommendation from people you know who may have worked with lemon law lawyers before;
  • Schedule a consultation – book a free consultation with a few lemon law attorneys so that you can learn more about them and their experience; and
  • Ask about their fees – Make sure that you understand how much the attorney charges and when you will be expected to pay (up front, installments, after the case, or do they take the case on a contingency basis?)

Automotive Lemon Law in Minnesota

Minnesota Bar Association Lawyer Association:

MN Find a Lawyer Directory

What are some of the benefits of hiring an attorney for a lemon law case?

It is important to remember that the manufacturer of the car and the dealers will have legal experts on their side and you might want the same kind of expertise on your side. A lawyer will represent you in court, but they will also:

  • Explain the lemon law in the state of Minnesota to you and help you to understand both the process and the possible outcomes;
  • Help you to gather all the necessary documents;
  • Help to ensure that the manufacturer is treating you fairly;
  • Help save you time by handling the communication and other actions on your behalf; and
  • Help you to navigate the courts and the legal terms.

MN Find a Lawyer Directory

Driver and Vehicle Services – Main Office
State Government Office
445 Minnesota St
1 651-297-3298

Driver License Examining Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
Midtown Square Mall
3333 W Division St #114
1 320-255-3044

Drivers License Exam Station
Driver’s License Office
530 W Main St
1 651-201-7900

Drivers License Exam
Driver’s License Office
1121 SE 4th Ave
1 218-327-4586

Drivers License Examining Station
Driver’s License Office
101 Hoover Rd N
1 218-748-2457

Detroit Lakes Exam Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
1000 US-10
1 218-846-7375

Drivers License Exam Station
Driver’s License Office
2070 Cliff Rd
1 651-201-7900

Driver and Vehicle Services Circle Pines
Department of Motor Vehicles
9201 Lexington Ave N #9
1 763-784-5780

Deputy Registrar And Drivers License Agent
Department of Motor Vehicles
14033 Commerce Ave NE
1 952-447-8817

License Bureau Inc.
License Bureau
425 Rice St
1 651-292-9791
Open until 4:30 PM

Plymouth DVS
Driver’s License Office
2455 Fernbrook Ln N
1 651-201-7900

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services
Department of Motor Vehicles
2929 Chicago Ave S
1 612-348-8240

Stillwater License Center
County Government Office
1520 W Frontage Rd
1 651-275-7000

Washington County: Woodbury License Center
Driver’s License Office
2150 Radio Dr
1 651-275-8600

Apple Valley DMV
Department of Motor Vehicles
15026 Glazier Ave
1 952-431-6770

Lakeville License Center
Department of Motor Vehicles
20085 Heritage Dr
1 952-891-7878

Brooklyn Center DVS
Department of Motor Vehicles
6125 Shingle Creek Pkwy
1 612-348-8240
Open until 2:00 PM

Douglas County License Bureau
County Government Office
715 Elm St
1 320-762-3897

Glencoe DVS
Department of Motor Vehicles
2385 Hennepin Ave N
1 320-864-1311

Moorhead DMV Office
Department of Motor Vehicles
1300 15th Ave N
1 218-299-5080

Coon Rapids License Center
Driver’s License Office
455 99th Ave NW #100
1 763-785-5999

DMV
Department of Motor Vehicles
209 S Rum River Dr
1 763-389-4353

Golden Valley Department of Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
7800 Golden Valley Rd
1 763-593-8101

Becker County – Department of Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
915 Lake Ave
1 218-846-7308

Buffalo Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
10 2nd St NW #160
1 763-682-7597

Chisago City Drivers License
Department of Motor Vehicles
Chisago City Hall
10625 Railroad Ave
1 651-257-6578

Carver County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
418 N Pine St
1 952-361-1900

License Plate Bureau
1.5
Department of Motor Vehicles
1825 S Elm Ave
1 507-451-2040

Monticello Department of Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
119 E 3rd St
1 763-295-2712

Annandale Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
30 Cedar St E
1 320-274-3284

Minnesota Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
239 Barclay Ave
1 218-587-2400

Richfield Motor Vehicle Licenses
Driver’s License Office
6700 Portland Ave
1 612-861-9730

AAA License Bureau
Association or Organization
5400 Auto Club Way
1 952-927-2696
Open until 5:00 PM

Bloomington Motor Vehicle Office
Driver’s License Office
9930 Logan Ave S
1 952-563-8719

Drivers License Examining Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
213 S 5th St
1 218-828-2489

Paynesville DVS
Department of Motor Vehicles
221 Washburne Ave
1 320-243-3714

Wayzata Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
600 Rice St E
1 952-404-5320

Forest Lake License Center
County Government Office
19955 Forest Rd N
1 651-275-7333
Closed now

Automobile License Bureau
Department of Motor Vehicles
302 W Redwood St
1 507-532-4643

DMV Hutchinson
Department of Motor Vehicles
111 Hassan St SE
1 320-234-2599

Sauk Centre DMV
Department of Motor Vehicles
342 Main St N
1 320-352-2853

Motor Vehicle License Bureau
Department of Motor Vehicles
1401 S 12th Ave
1 218-741-5533

ODC
Driver’s License Office
3620 13th Ave E
1 218-262-4329

Eagan Auto License
Driver’s License Office
3932 Cedar Grove Pkwy
1 651-406-4764

Waseca County License Bureau
Department of Motor Vehicles
300 N State St
1 507-835-0625

Minnnesota Deputy Registrar and Driver’s License Agent
Driver’s License Office
1506 W Main St
1 651-385-0340

Anoka County License Center
Driver’s License Office
17565 Central Ave NE #330
1 763-413-9717

Mankato DMV Office
Department of Motor Vehicles
2161 Bassett Dr
1 507-344-2799

South St Paul Auto License
Department of Motor Vehicles
125 3rd Ave N #4
1 651-552-7603

Fergus Falls DMV Office
Department of Motor Vehicles
545 W Fir Ave
1 218-998-8080

Brainerd License Office
Driver’s License Office
623 NW 4th St
1 218-855-5169

Excelsior Motor Vehicle Center
Department of Motor Vehicles
21550 MN-7
1 952-474-6929

White Bear Lake License Bureau
License Bureau
4701 Hwy 61 N
1 651-429-8532
Closed now

Driver’s License Exam Station
Driver’s License Office
4602 Grand Ave #990
1 218-628-4925

Staples Auto License Bureau
Department of Motor Vehicles
219 4th St NE
1 218-894-2866

Roseville License Center
Driver’s License Office
2737 Lexington Ave N
1 651-792-7010
Open until 2:00 PM

Carver County Service Center
Department of Motor Vehicles
7808 Kerber Blvd
1 952-361-3900

Pine City DVS
Driver’s License Office
809 Main St S
1 320-629-2560

Drivers License Examining
Department of Motor Vehicles
517 Jefferson St N
1 218-631-2887

Renville County License Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
500 E Depue Ave # 201
1 320-523-3612

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