What’s on a Free VIN Check?

June 16, 2014

Buying a used car is often a gamble, especially when you’re buying from a dealer. You don’t know the history of a vehicle, how many owner’s it’s has or if it has ever been in an accident. The best way to answer those questions is with a VIN report and many dealerships will produce one for you for free. But what type of information is included on a free VIN check?

Vehicle Accident History

While there is other information on a vehicle identification number report, most buyers are primarily interested in the car’s accident history. Every accident that was reported to an insurance company or recorded in a police record will be shown on the report. This goes for small dings as well as accidents that may have resulted in totaling the vehicle. Sometimes, after a car or truck has been totaled, people with automotive green thumbs will rescue the vehicle, rebuild the broken parts and resell the finished project. Although this isn’t necessarily a reason to reject the vehicle for purchase, it is always good to know whether or not the vehicle has been involved in an accident.

Natural Disaster Damage

It may be good to know if your prospective purchase has had any damage other than resulting from any accidents. This will include flood or fire damage as well as storm damage such from hail or tree limbs. If the incidents have been reported to an insurance company, this damage will be included on a free VIN check.

Odometer Issues

Especially when buying an older vehicle, you will definitely want to know the actual odometer reading. While most odometers only go up to 100,000 miles, the one on the vehicle you are considering buying could have “tripped” or rolled over more than once. This can help you estimate how much life is left in the vehicle, especially if there have been parts replaced. You’ll be able to see how many miles are on the new transmission, radiator, etc.

Multiple Owners

A free VIN check will also let you know how many people have previously owned the vehicle, including dealerships. If the vehicle has had multiple owners, then it may bear investigating to see why. A vehicle changing hands frequently could be an indication that the car may be a lemon and might not be a wise investment.

Remember that not all vehicles, especially if they are older, may not have the proper VIN numbers to produce a report. Also, unless the information about accidents or other damage has been reported to an insurance agency or police department, it will likely not show up on a free VIN check.

Getting a Totally Free Carfax Report

June 13, 2014

When you are in the market for a used car it can feel like a daunting task.  There are so many dealers and individuals that sell used cars that it can be hard to know who you can consider to be trust worthy. In addition to concerns about the dealers and private sellers, you want to make sure that you can get as much information as you can about the vehicle that you are interested in.  Fortunately, you can get vehicle information through a free VIN check.

The VIN, which is short for Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique code that will provide you with a great deal of information about the vehicle.  All reputable dealers will provide you with the VIN, and many will even provide the VIN for each vehicle on their web site so you can look up the history of the vehicle prior to seeing it.

Since 1981, the National High Traffic Safety Administration has required all vehicles to have a vehicle identification number using a standard format of 17 characters.  Each character in the VIN offers specific identification information. The information in the VIN includes:

  • Country of Manufacture
  • Name of Manufacturer
  • Vehicle Type
  • A Vehicle Descriptor Section
  • Model Year
  • Assembly Plant
  • Vehicle Identifier Section

By searching on the VIN, you can learn about any used vehicle.  Whether buying a car from a dealer or an individual, you should always get the VIN and do a search.  Fortunately, there are several ways that you can get a free VIN check.


At this website they will check the VIN and verify that it is a legitimate number.  The site will also decode the VIN and give you information about the vehicle.  This includes:

  • Vehicle Specifications
  • Gas Mileage
  • Reliability Rating
  • Current Market Pricing
  • Year, Make and Model


This is the web site for the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  They provide a free VIN check to let you know if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered.  They also let you know if the vehicle has been reported as a salvage vehicle.

In addition to these sites, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced new requirements for auto makers to provide U.S. consumers with a free on line tool.  This tool will allow consumers to search using the Vehicle Identification Number and find out about recall information.  Many auto makers already offer this feature, but for those who do not, they have until August 2014 to comply.  A new web site, SaferCar.gov, will help auto owners and buyers find information about safety recalls.

If you are buying a vehicle from a dealer, the dealer should provide you with a free Vehicle Identification Number check.  After you have taken the vehicle for a test drive, ask the dealer to provide you with a full VIN check about the vehicle.

Every used car buyer should run a VIN check prior to purchasing the vehicle.  The information provided by the VIN check will let you know the history of the vehicle including whether the vehicle was stolen, the accident history of the vehicle and the ownership information.  The more you know about the vehicle, the easier it is to make a smart buying decision.