We see perhaps hundreds of number plates each and every day, but most of us never stop to think about them. However, if you’re looking for a new commercial vehicle to add to your fleet and you’re on the hunt for the best new van deals, a quick glance at the number plate can tell you a surprising amount. Since the new 69 number plates have just been released in the UK, we thought it worth going into a bit more detail about what all this means.

What can you tell from number plates?

Number plates can tell you all sorts of useful information about a car. Only the last three digits are randomly selected, and are allocated to dealers when the car is shipped. The first two letters, on the other hand, show where the car was made. Each region in the UK has its own shorthand – Manchester, for example, is MA to MY. But it’s the third and fourth digits which are most relevant here.

Essentially, these are the vehicle’s age identifier – they tell you the year in which it was manufactured, and can even let you narrow it down to a couple of months. A vehicle made in 2015, for example, will have 15 as its age identifier. After September of that year though, another 50 is added to that number, so one made after September 2015 will have 65 as its age identifier. So by that logic, if you see 57 as the age identifier on a used van, you’ll be able to tell that it was made within a few months of September 2007.

This system has been standard across cars and vans registered since 2001. That means besides classic and vintage cars, there will be relatively few cars without this number plate system being driven around today.

When will the 69 plates run until?

New number plates are released in the UK twice a year – first in March, then again in September. The 19 plate was released on March 1st this year, and applied to every new vehicle that was manufactured up until the 31st of August. Now that we’re past September, all new vans being manufactured from now will have 69. This will be the case until March of next year, at which point the age identifier will change to 20.

If you’ve spotted a flaw in this system – don’t worry, the DVLA has too! The current system will run until February 2051, and the last age identifier in the run will be 00. When we near closer to this date, the DVLA will review their system, and see what needs amending.

Why is the age of the vehicle important?

Well to some people, it’s not. But when you’re in the market for a new commercial van, whether you’re looking at cheap van deals or new ones, the age of the vehicle is often an important factor in the overall process. It helps you work out whether the age of the van is appropriate for what you plan to use it for, and it’s a key factor that affects how much insurance you’d pay too. Plus, if you ever buy a van or a car privately, it can act as a handy instant litmus test to find out whether the seller is telling the truth about the age of the vehicle in question.

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You don’t have to worry about this last bit here at Van Discount, though. With years of industry experience behind us, we’ve got a huge range of the best new van deals for you to choose from, with universally recognised models from trusted household names like Ford, Peugeot and Citroen. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?