VIN SearchA VIN Search uses your vehicle’s unique VIN Number (Vehicle Identification Number) to reveal important information about a car’s past that you might not be able to find on your own.

It’s the best way to find out if the vehicle you are considering has any serious hidden problems such as major collision damage, odometer tampering, insurance loss and much more. It will also tell you valuable vehicle information such as ownership transfers, mileage readings and DMV transactions.

The VIN Number Search typically checks millions of DMV records for information on your particular vehicle. It covers national Departments of Motor Vehicles, automobile auctions, auto dealers and government agencies – all of the best resources for vehicle history information.

How does the VIN search work exactly?

The whole process starts with locating the VIN for a particular car you are considering. The seller will provide that information, or you can find it in one of four places on the car itself: the driver’s dashboard, the driver’s side door post, the title or registration or the insurance card.

You’re looking for a 17 character number, a combination of letters and numbers, that is the unique ID for the car. No two cars have the same VIN…it’s like a fingerprint.

One of the newer features of some vehicle history providers is a search by license plate option. This is great if you can’t get the VIN or it is not available for one reason or another. Using this option, you can just provide the car’s license plate and a state and pull up the information that way. If there is more than one car that comes up, for example if the license plate was used on two different vehicles, you just choose the one you’re considering and go from there.

Once you have that information handy, the free VIN search or license plate search is the initial step in learning your car’s true past.

This portion will decode your VIN to reveal certain information about the car, usually the year, make, model, trim, engine type, restraint system and country of manufacture. This free portion of the vehicle history report will then tell you how many DMV records exist for your particular car, so you’ll know the extent of information available.

After you get your free VIN search, you can choose to get the full vehicle history report, which will detail all of the information found for your particular car. This could be anything from fire or hail damage, manufacture buyback (lemon status), stolen vehicle, police use, broken odometer and many other hidden problems that you could not find out on your own or possibly from the seller himself.

So you can see how important it is to get a full VIN report on your car BEFORE you buy any used vehicle from anyone. You never know what kind of hidden problems are there that could end up costing you thousands to repair. And by the time you realize it it could be too late to get any recourse from the previous owner. Make sure you do a VIN Search before you buy your next used car…you’ll be glad you did!

I thought the entire thing was free…it’s not?

You know how the saying goes…nothing in life is free. 🙂 The initial VIN search can be conducted at no cost to you. You enter in your VIN and immediately you find out what car you are dealing with and how many records are available.

But in order to get the specific information, i.e. what damage it has, what the odometer reading is, how many accidents it has been in, what the maintenance records show, etc. you need to pay a fee. If the entire thing was free Carfax, AutoCheck and all of the other vehicle information providers would be out of business. Their entire income depends on people buying reports.

So when you see a VIN search for free, that’s just the initial check on the used car. You always have to pay for all of the juicy details. But if you think about it, let’s say you pay $60 for the 3 report option from AutoCheck. You check the first vehicle and you find out that it was completely totaled in the past and repaired. But the seller didn’t tell you that.

The second vehicle you check is perfectly clean and you buy it. Let’s say you didn’t pay the $60 to check out the first vehicle and bough that one instead. A couple months in it starts to fail because it wasn’t repaired properly. Now what? You may have thousands of dollars in repairs just to get the car roadworthy again. Or, you may have thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to get recourse for buying a lemon car.

Well now that $60 for three reports doesn’t seem so bad…does it? So don’t get hung up looking for a no-cost report beyond the free VIN number search. Spend the money and give yourself peace of mind.

How do I start the VIN number search process?

Getting the ball rolling is really easy to do. Find a car or a few used cars you’d like to buy. Get the VIN(s) and/or license plate numbers and states of registration.

Enter the information here to start your free VIN search. From there, you can choose whether or not you would like to proceed with the full vehicle history report to learn more. That’s really all there is to it.