A VIN Number check is a great idea for anyone looking to buy a used car. This is another name for a vehicle history report, which tells you if the car has been in any serious accidents, had the odometer tampered with, changed owners multiple times and a dozen other potential problems.
But before you run this vehicle check you should consider how much it will cost and what you can expect to pay, so you can make a good decision about the best company to use. Not all reports will be the same; some will be more comprehensive while others will offer only a few pieces of information, so you shouldn’t make your decision based on price alone. As is often said, you get what you pay for and paying for a more detailed report can be the best choice when it comes to buying a used car.
Consider a few factors about a VIN number check and how much you can expect to pay from various companies you’ll find online.
Free Versus Paying a Fee
One thing that you’ll notice when you start your search online is that many sites and companies offer a VIN Number check for free. However, note that this free report is typically just initial information without much else given. It is often important data, but just keep in mind it is not the whole story.
To get the full history of a car, you will need to pay for a more comprehensive report. When you see free reports advertised online, be sure you understand what it is you’re getting and understand why you should expect to actually pay for a full history of the car.
Top Five VIN Number Check Providers Compared
Here is a list of the most popular sites online that offer these types of checks and reports, along with their prices and what is included.
*Note all rates current as of Summer 2017*
$39.99 for one report, $59.99 for five reports, $69.99 for unlimited reports. (FREE initial VIN check)
This report is very comprehensive and will tell you about suspected mileage rollback or tampering, any structural damage to the car, if it’s been reported in a major accident, if it’s been used as a taxi or police vehicle which in turn would indicate extreme wear and tear, if it’s been rebuilt, if there has been flood damage reported or the airbags have deployed, if it’s ever been junked, and any recall and warranty information.
Purchasing five reports can be very helpful as you’re likely to check more than one vehicle during the shopping process. Unlimited reports also have the same benefit; you just pay once and you can run a VIN Number check for 60 days.
CarFax receives this data from some 34,000 sources, including all major U.S. motor vehicle agencies, Canadian provincial motor vehicle agencies, auction sites for autos including salvage auctions, collision repair facilities and body shops, service shops, insurance providers, car recyclers, state inspection agencies, companies that offer extended warranties, manufacturers, car dealerships, law enforcement agencies, and import/export companies.
$9.99 for one report. (FREE initial VIN check)
This report will give you a record of the title, the reported odometer readings, if there is a record of any total loss on the car, if it’s been reported as salvaged or junked, if there are any liens on the vehicle, and if it’s been impounded or towed. While this is a very affordable report, it doesn’t cover other information you might need to see such as potential mileage rollback or tampering, any major accidents or if it’s been rebuilt. It also doesn’t report flood damage or if the airbags have deployed, which would also indicate a major accident.
The information provided by VinAudit is collected from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, or NMVTIS. This agency collects information from insurance providers, salvage yards, and states in the U.S. as they are required to report total loss records or the salvaging of a car to this agency. The data comes from some 9000 sources and VinAudit boasts a database of over 40 million records.
$3.50 for one report.
CheckThatVIN offers a very minimal VIN number check that only covers the mileage readings during each time the vehicle was titled and the states in which a title was issued, and if insurance companies ever reported a total loss or salvage of the vehicle. While the price is very affordable this is typically not enough to determine if the car is your best choice for purchase. CheckThatVIN also uses information form NMVTIS for their information like VinAudit.
This site offers a free statement as to whether or not the car has been reported stolen and not recovered, and whether or not it’s been reported as a total loss. For any additional information or a more comprehensive report, the site sends you to AutoCheck for their reports. This type of quick report is good for those who are looking to buy a used car as it gives you some basic information for free, but if you’re concerned about past accident, recalls, and other more comprehensive information, it’s best to visit AutoCheck and order a full report.
AutoCheck by Experian
$24.99 for one report, $49.99 for 25 reports, $99 for 300 reports. (FREE initial VIN check)
AutoCheck offers a number of positive features for car buyers including whether or not the car is eligible for a buyback program and if there are problems with the odometer reports. It will also list if the title has been registered as salvaged or junked along with major accidents. This includes a full history of accidents that were reported to insurance companies including minor collisions. The report also includes any water damage suffered by the car and if it’s been considered a lemon.
One advantage of AutoCheck is the unlimited reports option; this is a good feature because chances are you won’t buy one car and use it for the rest of your life, but will need to check several cars over the course of 21 days. This allows you to continue using their services without having to pay for report after report. AutoCheck is part of Experian, one of the nation’s leading consumer lending information providers.
Their database houses information on some 500 million vehicles and the information is gathered from state Department of Motor Vehicle agencies, salvage yards, recycling facilities, and insurance companies. The company also provides a score for a vehicle, based on its mileage, accident history, damage, if it’s ever been stolen or repossessed, and other factors that affect its market value. This score can make it easier to determine if a particular vehicle is worth the purchase price and if it will retain its resale value over time.
So Which One is the Best Option For a VIN Number Check?
One thing to remember about a VIN number check is that a cheaper report is not always a better option. Knowing only the bare minimum about a car’s title and condition will usually not help you to determine if it’s a good or even safe purchase. Water damage and even minor collisions can affect a car’s overall safety and performance, so the small price you pay for such a report can be well worth it if it means saving you the cost of repairs or the cost of actually purchasing a lemon!
In our 25 year experience with vehicle hsitory reports, we believe your best choices are going to be the top two report providers, CarFax and AutoCheck. They are the two biggest names in the business, and their reports are much more comprehensive than the others, hands down.
Of the two, AutoCheck is the better option for a number of reasons. First, there is not much difference as far as comprehensiveness and accuracy of their reports. In fact, we’ve found that Autocheck has the edge in that department. So, at $29.99 vs. $39.99, you’re saving $10 on a single report; same for the unlimited reports, at $44.99 vs. $54.99.
Also, you have the AutoCheck score which is a very handy tool that Carfax doesn’t offer, and exclusive data that Carfax does not have access to.
So bottom line, if you’re looking to run a VIN Number check, in our opinion Autocheck is the way to go. To find out more information about our top choice for a VIN check just follow the link to learn more about a vehicle history report from Autocheck.