The Government is under pressure to scrap a rule that leads to a car being issued with more than one vehicle identification number (VIN).
The Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors (IAEA) claims the practice can compromise road safety as well as help fraudsters “ring” cars.
Current DVLA rules demand that a new VIN is issued when a vehicle's bodyshell is replaced.
Critics say the rule is “illogical and arbitrary” because the bodyshell should not be treated differently to any other part of the car body.
The IAEA points out that cars with a new VIN may have the wrong parts fitted after a prang, which could endanger the driver.
Moreover, a repairer may attempt to put both old and new numbers into the replacement shell, which can cause confusion and raise doubts about the car's history when the vehicle is examined at a later date by an insurance investigator, the police or a potential buyer.
“The VIN is the ‘cradle to grave' identification used globally by car manufacturers, repairers, garages, vehicle registration authorities, police forces and insurers to identify an automobile and its legal owners,” said Peter Adams, the chairman of the institute's technical committee.
“A car should retain its VIN until the day when that vehicle goes to the great crusher in the sky,” said Adams.
The institute's solution to the problem is one used by a handful of car manufactures including BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar and Porsche.
They insist that repairers and dealers return the bodyshell to them. They will provide a replacement with the original VIN while the damaged shell is crushed and a note is made on the vehicle's file that the shell has been replaced.
Manufacturers operating this scheme say it has nearly eliminated the problem of shells that had been “written off” by insurance assessors after turning up in “unauthorised” or ringed cars.
A DVLA spokesperson said it was considering the change.