The model year of a passenger car or truck can be confusing because the model year does not follow the calendar year. For example, a 2015 model year car does not necessarily mean the car was manufactured between January 1st and December 31st of 2015. Model years of passenger cars and trucks are an annual indicator of an update or change to an existing vehicle design. The latest model year is typically sold starting in the Fall of the prior calendar year. So a 2015 model year car could have been manufactured as early as July of 2014 and sold in September of 2014.
The confusion can manifest itself in accident reconstruction when the model year reported in a police report or other written materials is incorrectly based on the manufacture date of the vehicle as opposed to the model year date. Major design changes could have occurred that can impact an accident reconstructionist’s analysis and/or CDR download capability. For example, there was a large difference in body style between the 2006 Chevy Impala and the 2005 Chevy Impala. There was an even bigger difference between the 2000-2007 Ford Taurus and the 2008-2009 Ford Taurus (based on the Ford 500).
To avoid using an incorrect model year in their analyses, accident reconstructionists will:
- Request the VIN, if not already provided in the vehicle records
- Double check the VIN during the vehicle inspection in as many locations as possible
- Compare the VIN against the model year
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