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Highlander trailer VIN question  Bottom

  • Hi, folks. Haven't been around in a while. I appreciate that a trailer question is rather OT, but I can't think of a better group to put this question to.

    I'm buying a cat that happens to be sitting on a Highlander trailer (apparently made by Shoreliner in TX, probably in 1983). The company went out of business somewhere around 1990.

    The VIN sticker has long since weathered/fallen off, and without a VIN it's very difficult to import into Canada. In August I bought an EZ-Loader trailer (with a couple of Sea-Doos on it - don't hate me, there's a story) that was similarly missing its VIN sticker, but EZ-Loader clued me in to the fact that they put backup VIN numbers on a little sticker inside the tongue tube right up where the hitch bolts on.

    Can anyone tell me whether this Highlander might also have a hidden backup VIN, and if so, where?

    thx.mch.
    jl

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    Southern Alberta and all over the damn place.
    *
    Supercat 19
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    H18 (in Ontario - we haven't gotten together for a while)
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  • This is not an industry wide practice. If there is another one, it will be hidden in plain sight. Look for a metal plate welded on the trailer somewhere, or on the frame where the taillights bolt on, or the inside of the frame.

    Lacking that, make a number up, stamp it on the frame somewhere near the tongue, and license it in the US somewhere. You can find typical Highlander VIN numbers online. I seriously doubt that anyone will put any effort into trying to research a VIN number, especially when the manufacturer is defunct.

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    Bob
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  • klozhaldThis is not an industry wide practice. If there is another one, it will be hidden in plain sight. Look for a metal plate welded on the trailer somewhere, or on the frame where the taillights bolt on, or the inside of the frame.


    Yeah, that was the search we did with the EZ-Loader, and nothing turned up. It was after I'd managed to import it "by other means" that we were informed where to look for the backup.

    QuoteLacking that, make a number up, stamp it on the frame somewhere near the tongue, and license it in the US somewhere. You can find typical Highlander VIN numbers online. I seriously doubt that anyone will put any effort into trying to research a VIN number, especially when the manufacturer is defunct.


    That's pretty much the plan, minus the "licensing it in the US" part. Canada Customs doesn't care whether it's been (or is currently) registered; all they care about is having a trailer and bill of sale with matching VINs.

    Plan A is to look for a backup number because it's less work than stamping a new one. Otherwise, the stamps are at the ready, and I don't think we even have to conform to the Highlander format, since it'll
    be treated as a "DMV-assigned VIN".

    --
    Southern Alberta and all over the damn place.
    *
    Supercat 19
    TriFoiler #23 "Unfair Advantage"
    Mystere 17 (the old beater)
    H18 (in Ontario - we haven't gotten together for a while)
    Zygal (classic) Tornado (ditto)
    --
  • Had a similar issue with a boat I acquired where the trailer VIN sticker was unreadable...why they used those stickers and mounted them in a place where they would get trashed I don't know... I had a title but because the trailer was from out of state they needed to verify the VIN... I looked all over that trailer and there was no additional VIN to be found.

    I went to these guys and had one made and it passed muster with the local DMV

    https://www.a1engravingservice.com/Vin-Plates.html



    Edited by JohnES on Oct 17, 2019 - 03:56 PM.

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    John Schwartz
    Ventura, CA
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  • Wow - those look official as hell. Thanks.

    --
    Southern Alberta and all over the damn place.
    *
    Supercat 19
    TriFoiler #23 "Unfair Advantage"
    Mystere 17 (the old beater)
    H18 (in Ontario - we haven't gotten together for a while)
    Zygal (classic) Tornado (ditto)
    --
  • I personally would be very hesitant trying to lie to a government agency

    I have a friend who was handcuffed, arrested and criminally prosecuted for it ... it ended up being very expensive, he has a record and was on probation for a few years

    ymmv
  • This varies by manufacturer. Some do, some don't... but the standard places are tongue, axle, and rear crossmember. If you have a trailer title, you probably know what the VIN is (or should be).

    Alternately, Harbor Freight sells very cheap trailers... throw a 20% off discount at this and you'll be under $300 for a trailer with a title that can get you registered pretty easily. Each trailer comes with an MSO (manufacturer statement of origin) -- it will look like a discount coupon with green borders. Take that and your store receipt when you apply for registration. They *might* be enough to get you across the border, but plates are always better. The HF trailer I bought recently has no VIN stamped anywhere on it, so if you laid on a fresh coat of paint and installed the new chains, springs, axles, wheels, and tires, you'd have a new trailer, at least by weight. Heck, you could buy a couple of sets of U-bolts and bolt the entire HF trailer minus its tongue underneath your existing trailer minus its springs and axles.

    Staying 'legal' isn't frequently just black or white when crossing the border, unless you have brand new gear and full documentation. Older trailers are almost always some shade of gray. Choose your acceptable level of gray carefully based on your comfort with law enforcement. If I was confident a trailer lacked a VIN *and* was not stolen, I'd be pretty comfortable undertaking the above due diligence to get it titled legally... and to have full paperwork and photos to back it up if necessary.

    I have also purchased motorcycles with imperfect titles and checked into registration bonds and contacting past owners. California DMV has a lot of rings to jump through, but it was possible, with research and persistence.

    Randii
  • QuoteI personally would be very hesitant trying to lie to a government agency


    In general, I agree with you. But I've experienced cases in which the only way to get through the process is to lie. One example was when I was given a lot of once-expensive but now outdated computer equipment in the US - it was being scrapped by the manufacturer, and I had friends in the company who wanted to see it used rather than crushed. We're talking about maybe a ton of stuff, and the grief started when I truthfully declared the value to be zero. The customs agent refused to believe that anyone would spend money shipping equipment that was worth nothing. So on subsequent shipments, I faked up an invoice from a fictitious surplus dealer valuing it at a dollar per pound and never had a lick of trouble again. In fact, this lie favoured them, because it meant they collected duty and tax that they otherwise wouldn't have.

    That's not the only case - I've also been told by government officials when and about what I should lie in order to avoid getting hassled unnecessarily.

    The case of the Sea-Doos this past summer is illustrative and hilarious. In short, the purchase was legit, but at the border I discovered the trailer VIN was a distant memory and thus prohibited from importation. It was someone at Transport Canada who told me that if I took it apart and imported it in pieces as trailer parts, Customs wouldn't have a lick of trouble with it, so that's what we did - paying the appropriate duty and tax - and reassembling it on the other side of the border.

    It comes down to whether you're doing it to pull one over on them, or just to get an unusual and difficult - but harmless - case through the bureaucracy. It helps to appreciate that the bureaucrats charged with enforcing these rules often find them just as frustrating as do we, but they've gotta do their jobs.



    Edited by jonathan162 on Oct 30, 2019 - 12:17 AM.

    --
    Southern Alberta and all over the damn place.
    *
    Supercat 19
    TriFoiler #23 "Unfair Advantage"
    Mystere 17 (the old beater)
    H18 (in Ontario - we haven't gotten together for a while)
    Zygal (classic) Tornado (ditto)
    --

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