How to Get a Free VIN Check Before You Purchase a Used Car

January 27, 2012

A free VIN check can be used to determine the history of a vehicle. The VIN stands for the vehicle identification number which is like a serial number for every car. The report you can receive using a VIN number look-up will let you know if the car has been stolen, damaged, or had issues with the title.

Step 1 – The VIN Number

The VIN number is normally found along the door frame on the driver’s side, though it may also be on the dashboard near the windshield. If you are checking a used car, then the seller will be able to provide you with this number. If he or she will not give you the VIN number, then walk away from the sale because there may be big problems with the car.

Step 2 – The Internet

You can easily obtain a free title check or vehicle history by visiting a free VIN check site. The National Insurance Crime Bureau website will also provide you with car information based on the VIN number. To find a free VIN site, you can use a search engine or see which sites the major car websites such as Edmunds recommends. You do not have to pay to get this information.

Step 3 – Using the Site

You will need to input the VIN number where directed in order to get the free report. Some websites will email you this report while others will immediately display it on screen. These free reports will not be a full history of the car, but it will let you know if the car has ever been stolen, taken part in a crime, had a salvaged title, or more. Based on the VIN history, you can determine if the car is a good deal.

Step 4 – Used Car Records

You can also use the VIN number to see about getting a used car report. You can see how many reports have been filed for the car. If you notice that many reports have been filed, then you may want to look closer into the used car. Be aware that a used car report is different from a VIN report. Used car reports tend to require a fee.

Step 5 – Results on the Free Report

Insurance companies are the ones that manage the databases that have all of the vehicle information. These reports are voluntary from the companies and are based off of reports for claims and other insurance issues. You will be able to see if the car is stolen, has ever been stolen, or had any salvaged titles. You will not be provided with information about maintenance, title changes, major accidents, and more.

Step 6 – Be on the Lookout

If the car has never been insured, or insured by a company that does not provide information to free VIN checks, then you will not get good information on the history of that car. Make sure you ask appropriate questions about the condition and history of the car. Try and get documented proof for as much as possible. If you have any doubts then you will need to make changes to the bill of sale, so both buyer and seller are satisfied.

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