How to Get a Free Basic VIN Check
A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN for short) is a unique serial number that helps identify the vehicle’s type and specifications. The VIN also helps authorities, organizations, and individuals track a vehicle's past records. Using a the methods below, you can get information about your vehicle's specifications, title brands, recalls, and even if the vehicle has been reported stolen.
Checking Vehicle Specifications, Fuel Economy, and Pricing Details
Write down the VIN.Using a Pen and Paper, record the VIN that you want to check. You can also use a camera or smartphone to take a picture of your VIN to refer to, later on.
Open up your web browser to the website.Enter your VIN number and press theCheck Your VINbutton.
View the Vehicle Specifications.Receive information about the vehicle such as options, fuel efficiency, NHTSA and IIHS crash test ratings, and other specifications.
- Note, this is not a free "vehicle history report" — the companies providing vehicle history reports arerequiredto charge a fee, per the .
Checking VIN for Theft and Fraud Records
With your VIN in hand, go to the website.This is the "free VIN Check service" provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and issues free reportson cars that have current records of theft" or "have an outstanding title brand".
- If you're looking for a mechanical history report, or trying to figure out how many past owners a used vehicle has had, this free service will not provide the information you're looking for. That information is only available for a fee.
- The NICB no longer reports if the vehicle has a lien on it (as they did before), so be sure to verify with the DMV that the title belongs to the person selling the vehicle.
Type in the 17-digit VIN under the Step 1 box.If the vehicle in question was madeafter1981 but has fewer or more than 17 numbers and letters in its VIN, it's generally a pretty good sign that the VIN has been faked. Stay away from purchasing this vehicle if possible.
Agree to terms and conditions, and then enter the verification code.The verification code is a human detection service. After you've correctly entered the verification code, press "Search."
- The verification code is case-sensitive, so be sure to use CAPS letters where needed.
Wait as NICB checks your VIN against their databases.If the vehicle in question has an outstanding title brand or was recently reported stolen, read the short vehicle report based on that VIN.
- If your car has never been reported stolen, or is relatively new, then the report will let you know that the vehicle has not been listed in the Theft Records (and/or) Total Loss Records database(s).
- Remember, these records only show up if an accident or theft was "recorded" (and even then, it may take up to 6 months to show up in the database), so before you make the actual purchase, you will want to verify the information with the DMV.
- You are restricted to 5 VIN Check searches from a single IP address per day.
Checking VINs on Potentially Recalled Vehicles
Navigate to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration's website.Go to and click the tab that says "Vehicles."
- Select your Model Year, Make, and Model from the drop down menus and press Enter.
Check for any recalls.If the vehicle has had any recalls, they will be available under the Recalls tab.
Subscribe to email updates on recalls on the page.
Getting a Vehicle History Report for Free
Go to VehicleHistory.com.Use your browser to navigate to Vehiclehistory.com.
Enter the VIN in the search box in the middle of the page.If your car was manufactured after 1980, your VIN should be 17 digits long. It will never contain the letters I, O, or Q, so as to avoid confusion with the numbers 1 and 0.
- If your car was manufactured prior to 1980, you will not be able to secure a vehicle history report.
Get your report.Once you’ve entered the VIN, you may view the report.
Getting a VIN Check by Other Means
Ask the seller of the vehicle to supply a VIN check.If you're interested in a vehicle but really don't want to shell out for a VIN check, check to see whether the seller of the vehicle has a VIN check that they can produce.
- Sometimes, sellers will do potential buyers a favor by paying for it themselves, saving the PDF or printout, and sending a copy over to would-be buyers.
- Always keep your eyes and ears open andbe cautious, since sellers could doctor the VIN Check and try to mislead you. When you're dealing with a purchase that ranges in the thousands of dollars, it's easy to be penny wise and pound-foolish. If you get an uneasy feeling, or simply don't trust the report, then paying a small fraction of the overall cost of the vehicle will give you peace of mind as well as the truth.
Shell out a little bit of money from a trusted VIN check provider.This obviously isn't free, but — as noted above — very few options truly are free. Bottom line: if you're interested in potentially purchasing a used vehicle, factor in the cost of VIN checks into your total budget. The following sources will provide trustworthy VIN checks for a small fee:
- AutoCheck (part of Experian)
QuestionHow to find out who owns a car by the VIN?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's no foolproof way. ThatsThem.com claims to be able to give you the identity of an owner by the VIN number, but it often doesn't work.Thanks!
QuestionCan I see all owners and who currently owns the vehicle if I provide the VIN?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionHow can I find out how many previous owners my car had and whether it has been in an accident?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to vehiclehistory.com and enter the VIN of the auto in question.Thanks!
QuestionCan I have an original title if there is a lien on it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but it will list the lien holder's name on it. Once the lien is paid off, the lien holder sends you a letter stating the lien is paid. You then submit the letter and title to the DMV to get a new title (for a fee) with the lien holder removed, or you may keep the letter and old title, and not waste money to get the lien holder removed. If you later sell the vehicle, give the letter and old title to the new owner.Thanks!
QuestionHow can you find vehicle parts with the VIN number?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe VIN is vehicle identification number, and is pretty useless for parts. Just go shopping knowing the make & model of your car, as well as the engine size if searching for engine parts. That is all that you, and the retailer, need.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I find out if there is a lien on a vehicle?Bobby BoydCommunity AnswerThe seller would not have the title if there is a lien on the vehicle.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if the odometer has been tampered with?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe Title will have the most recent report, and you should be able to track back and see if it is truly accurate.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I run a check on a title using the VIN number?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can go to a vehicle history report provider like LemonChecks.com, and click on the "run free VIN check" tab. You can enter the 17 digit VIN number, and the car history report will be automatically generated for you.Thanks!
How could I get a vehicle history report for a car that was manufactured prior to 1980?
How do I check if my car has been in an accident before?
How do I license my car?
How can I find who sold the car previously?
When was my car put into service?
To get a free basic VIN check, go to Vehicle History's private website and enter your 17-digit VIN number in the middle of the page to get your vehicle’s history report. Then, make sure the car wasn’t stolen by entering the VIN number on the NICB website, which reports previous thefts or collisions. You may also want to make sure you car hasn’t been recalled by checking the NHTSA Recall Website.
Video: Vin Number Check for Free
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