What is Car Rebirthing and How to Avoid A Rebirthed Car?

Car Rebirthing and how to avoid it

Whenever you get a PPSR report or REV check it’s a good idea to perform some follow-ups. Most of these involve inspecting the vehicle, or getting someone qualified to inspect the vehicle on your behalf. One of these follow-ups, however, involves checking the legitimacy of the VIN, chassis number, and other identifying numbers on a car to ensure everything is as it should be.

If you discover that there are inconsistencies or problems with these ID codes, you could be looking at a rebirthed vehicle.

 What Is Rebirthing?

Rebirthing covers a few different situations, all related to stolen vehicles and fraud. There are three main examples:

   Removing identifying information from a stolen vehicle in order to hide the fact it’s stolen.

  Using parts from a stolen vehicle to fix a repairable write-off

  Interfering with the identification number on a vehicle.

So basically, a car gets stolen, and all or part of it ends up being sold on with other ID information to hide the fact it’s stolen. It’s an attractive idea for people who want to cheaply repair a repairable write-off vehicle and sell it on at a profit.

One popular tactic was to strip a stolen car of all valuable components and leave the body of the car in a public space. Somebody — sometimes even the people who stole the parts — would end up calling the police and the car would be taken and auctioned as scrap.

The thieves would then buy the body at a fraction of the car’s cost, replace all the stolen items, and then sell the restored vehicle as a legitimate used car.

Where Does Rebirthing Take Place?

Cars can be rebirthed anywhere, but it’s been particularly problematic in New South Wales over the years. It was popular amongst organised criminal groups in Western Sydney, where businesses operating as scrapyards would rebirth stolen and written off vehicles for sale.

Is Rebirthing Legal?

Absolutely not. Rebirthing a vehicle, including a boat, is a criminal offence. On top of that, helping someone to rebirth a vehicle — by providing funds, parts, or even knowingly allowing the process to take place on property you own — is illegal as well.

Stricter registration laws were introduced in 2010 to prevent the re-registering of rebirthed vehicles. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we have the PPSR check today. Older REV checks didn’t provide enough identifying information. Modern PPSR reports give potential buyers much more detailed information that they can use to help determine whether a vehicle is legitimate or not.

Is Rebirthing a Big Problem?

Rebirthing used to be a much bigger issue than it is today, thanks in part to more stringent registration details being recorded. VINs are now either cancelled or flagged to ensure identifying written off or stolen vehicles is much easier.

However the practice is still done by particularly dedicated groups, and there are rebirth cars from before the new laws still out there on the road. While you’re much less likely to find a rebirth car than you were 10 years ago, it’s still something to be on the look for.

What’s the Danger of a Rebirth Vehicle?

There are many problems with purchasing a rebirth vehicle.

Perhaps the most immediate problem is that the rebirthing process is typically not carried out by qualified mechanics, so it’s very likely that the car has serious issues which could result in a major accident. Simply put, there’s no guarantee that the vehicle is safe to drive, or will remain safe for any real period of time.

You may also lose your vehicle if it becomes part of a criminal investigation into the previous owners and rebirthers. There’s nothing you can do in this situation.

There are also the obvious issues of not knowing the quality of the parts, if they’re genuine, or what condition they’re in. Any future repairs may be prohibitively expensive, or impossible depending on the condition of the vehicle.

How Do I Avoid A Rebirthed Car?

The first step is to get a PPSR report. As we said above, it’s one of the reasons this report exists. If the details of the vehicle don’t match the details of the vehicle you’re interested in, that’s a red flag. Assuming you haven’t just entered the details incorrectly, it’s a potential sign of rebirthing.

VIN and compliance plates are usually located under the bonnet. You can see if the plate has been bent or the rivets have been tampered with. If the build date differs significantly from the compliance date, it’s another bad sign.

You can look at the VIN and registration numbers yourself, or get the car professionally inspected.

If you’re ever unsure, ask a professional to look at the car and go over the details of a PPSR report to ensure you’re not spending money on an illegal, rebirthed vehicle.

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