The free VIN lookup is the first step in figuring out whether or not the used car you are considering is worth buying or if you should look elsewhere. This portion of the vehicle history report will reveal the year, the make, the model and the trim, and sometimes additional information.
So if you were told by the seller that the car was a 2018 model and it’s the highest trim level, you will know right away if this is the case. From there you can decide if you want to get the complete history or not.
VIN Lookup – Some Common Questions
Let’s start with some of the questions that people typically have regarding the process. This will give you a good overview of how it all works, what to expect and what you need to be aware of.
Where can I find my VIN?
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a series of 17 numbers and letters that are unique to each vehicle. You can start your VIN lookup in each of the following places:
1. The vehicle’s insurance card
2. The driver’s side dashboard
3. The vehicle’s title or registration
4. The driver’s side door post.
You should be able to find it in all of these locations. Make sure you write it down carefully, as you will not be able to run a vehicle history report unless all 17 characters are correct.
My VIN has less than 17 characters…can I still get the history?
If your vehicle has less than 17 letters and numbers, that means it was manufactured prior to 1981. In 1981, a 17-character, alpha-numeric VIN was made standard in the industry.
Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive database in existence on pre-1981 vehicles. You cannot get the history of these vehicles. Try to gather as much information as you can from the current owner.
I want to check more than one VIN…can I do this?
You sure can! There are several options when it comes to your VIN number lookup. With the leading provider AutoCheck, you can get 25 reports or if you think you might be looking at even more cars there is a 300 report option that allows you to look up hundreds of VINs within a 21 day period.
This gives you the freedom to consider a number of vehicles before deciding which one is right for you. Chances are, you will want to check more than one during the process. Rarely is the first one you look at the one you end up buying.
Start with your free VIN Lookup here:
We will search our database of over 18 billion records on 384 million used cars!
What will the Free VIN Number Lookup tell me?
When you enter your VIN Number above, you will immediately search a database of more than 18 billion records to find information on your particular vehicle. This initial free search will tell you how many DMV records are available on your particular vehicle.
From there you can order a full Vehicle History Report which will reveal hidden problems, odometer readings and other important information.
Why Do I Have To Pay When I See All These Ads Saying it’s Free?
As we mentioned above, the initial part of your search is free, so although it is a little misleading, technically you are getting some information about the car at no cost to you. All of the companies, including Carfax, AutoCheck and other VIN history providers, start you off with the free check. It’s a way to get you in the door, just like any other promotion that a company uses.
So you can enter your VIN and it will tell you how many records are available. That part is no charge and you can do a VIN lookup free all day long on as many cars as you want. But if you want the meat and potatoes, including the hidden problems, odometer readings, maintenance reports, etc. you always have to pay, regardless of the company you are dealing with.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re buying a used car online or through a dealer, they will sometimes provide a vehicle history report for free as a way to show you that the car is clean. Although the report typically costs you $40 or so, it may cost them $10. So it’s worth it for them to run the report once and provide a copy of it to any interested buyers.
How fast can I find out my vehicle’s history so I can make a decision?
Your VIN Lookup and Vehicle History Report are instantaneous. The results of the comprehensive search appear onscreen seconds after you enter your vehicle information. So you will find out right away if you should avoid a vehicle you’re considering.
If you order the multiple report option you will be given a login and PW to access as many reports as you’d like within the 21 day timeframe. As far as full VIN check costs are concerned, they vary from company to company, and within a company they change the price structure from time to time.
Where is all of this information gathered from?
The report consists of information from hundreds of different sources, including state DMVs, government agencies, auto auctions, car dealers and more.
All of this data is gathered and compiled into one easy to read, easy to understand report on any used vehicle. The databases are getting larger all of the time as new vehicles and new information are being entered into the system.
Do I really need a VIN Lookup Before I Buy the Car?
Absolutely. You don’t want to buy something as expensive as a used car without checking it out first to see if there are any hidden problems the seller either doesn’t know about or just isn’t telling you. So it really is in your best interest to do your research before making a decision.
The initial part is free, and even the 300 report option is only $99…a small price to pay for peace of mind. So start with your free VIN number lookup and then you can decide if you want to get the full report from there.
VIN Lookup – Summary
You car VIN lookup is the first step in checking out a used car that you’re buying from a dealer, friend or any other source. It’s a free search that gives you some basic information to verify the make, model, trim level and other data,
From there you can decide if you want to get the full history of the car, which will include any hidden problems such as odometer rollback, previous accidents, fire damage, multiple owners and other issues that you definitely want to be aware of. This information you do need to pay for, but most buyers will agree that it is well worth the price to help you avoid a vehicle that may end up costing you thousands of dollars down the road.