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13-Digit VIN Check: Old Car Vehicle History Reports

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13-Digit VIN Check: Old Car Vehicle History Reports

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13-Digit VIN Check

Enter the VIN to get a history report for your old car.

Approved NMVTIS Data Provider

Starting around 1954, every motor vehicle has been issued a code, specifically called Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to uniquely identify it. At first, the length of a VIN varied from 5 to 17 characters, and it wasn’t until 1981 that the format was standardized into a 17-digit sequence of numbers and letters. If you got a 13-digit VIN, then the car you’re looking at is likely an antique or classic model that was manufactured before 1981.

Since a VIN carries the entire life story of a car, it’s vital to get a VIN checked to make sure you know every detail before buying or selling it. In this article, we’re showing you 5 ways to do a 13-digit VIN lookup. Read on…

1. Run a 13 digit VIN lookup via online decoders

Option 1 – Classic Car VIN lookup with BeenVerified

Powered by Bumper (an Approved NMVTIS Data Provider), BeenVerified is a powerful vehicle lookup tool to reveal a car’s past. You can enter the car’s VIN, license plate number or model type to get an in-depth report about its history.

The report will tell you its specs, miles driven, how many owners it has had, whether it has been in major accidents, the hardships it has endured, whether it’s road-ready, and a whole lot of other interesting facts that may affect its safety and value.

Here is how to run a VIN lookup on a pre-1981 car with BeenVerified:

  1. Go to BeenVerified Vehicle Search.
  2. Pop in your vehicle’s digits and click SEARCH.
  3. Wait a few seconds for BeenVerified to search its database. Once it locates a match, it will gather the associated records and compile them into a detailed report for you.

Option 2 – Search old VIN databases with EPICVIN

EpicVIN is an online VIN decoder and vehicle history tool that specializes in decoding VINs for classic, antique, and vintage vehicles. Their database contains specifications for over 60,000 vehicle makes and models from the early 1900s to the 2000s.

  1. Go to the EPICVIN official website.
  2. Type the 13-character VIN number as suggested, then click Check VIN.
  3. EPICVIN will search its database for matching records. Once done, it will provide a report containing all the available records associated with the VIN. 
    sample vehicle history report

2. Pre-1980 VIN lookup via DMV

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a state-level government agency that handles the issuing and licensing of vehicles. Some DMVs may have records dating back many decades, so as an approach, you can make a record request.

Note that the regulations for the release of the data vary from state to state – you may have to check out Vehicle Record Requests for your state to get started. A small fee may incur during the process.

Screenshot of State Vehicle Record Requests

In most cases, you can obtain your vehicle records through your state DMV’s online databases, while for others, you must phone in to access them. Also, if you’re trying to retrieve a copy on someone’s behalf, make sure you give proof of your relationship and the reasons why you have to do it in lieu.

3. Contact the manufacturer

Another method to trace your old car’s history is to ask the automaker. Prior to making the contact, make sure you gather all the necessary materials in place, such as Year, Make, Model, VIN, color, manufacturing plant, etc. If you got lucky, you may be provided with important information associated with the car: specs, characteristics, open & past safety recalls, etc.

4. Check the classic car database

Last but not least, The Classic Car Database is a popular resource where people can get a history of automobiles manufactured dating back as far as 1910. You can look up by Year and Make, which may give you multiple results to sort through.

At the same time, the website has baked VINData History into its engine, which allows you to run VIN searches for a cost. A single report charges $9.99, or if you purchase 5 reports at a time, it’ll be $4 each.

5. Cross-reference the VIN against archived catalogs

If you have access to old printed catalogs of vehicle data, you can try manually looking up the 13-digit VIN. For example, many libraries have historical copies of the “Black Book” used by dealerships, which contains technical specifications for vehicles.

Look through the sections for your vehicle’s make and model year and see if you can find a matching VIN listing. This will provide details like engine size, body type, factory options, and more without needing digital records.

Of course, this only works if you or a local library has preserved vintage catalogs. But for a vintage VIN lookup, these printed specifications can be invaluable resources.

Finding reliable and effective ways to look up 13-digit VINs posed a considerable research challenge. We first evaluated numerous generic VIN decoders but found many lacked sufficient historical records for older vehicles and could not guarantee conclusive results for every search.

After comprehensively evaluating numerous resources using specific criteria, we carefully selected the lookup methods recommended in this article. Here are the key factors that guided our decision-making:

  • Reliability – Because accuracy is paramount, we only included sources that provide verified data supported by concrete evidence. Sites with unverified user contributions were rejected.
  • Depth of records – To maximize the chance of finding matches, we favored services with vast databases that span many decades of vehicle history.
  • Specialization in classic vehicles – Since standard tools often fail with non-standard older VINs, we chose resources specifically tailored for vintage, antique and classic car lookups.
  • Reputation and reviews – We leaned on established, reputable services with years of positive feedback from users. Newer or questionable sources were avoided.
  • Cost – To accommodate different needs and budgets, we provided a mix of both free and paid lookup options. Services clearly disclosed their pricing upfront.
  • Ease of use – We picked sites with simple, intuitive interfaces that allow easy VIN entry and quick results. Minimal steps are required.
  • Customer support – The ability to get assistance was key, so we ensured that the chosen services offered solid customer support.

Even with extensive databases, no service could guarantee conclusive results for every single VIN lookup. However, the rigorous selection process yielded the methods most likely to uncover hidden vehicle history. Please let us know if you have any other recommendations based on your experience.

FAQ



That’s it – 5 useful methods to help you track down the history of an automobile that was built prior to 1981. Which method(s) did you use? Do you have any recommendations? If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, you’re more than welcome to leave us a comment below.

13-Digit VIN Check

Enter the VIN to get a history report for your old car.

Approved NMVTIS Data Provider

References:

Image credit: Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

exclamation-blueThere’s no guarantee you’ll find the information you’re looking for with the tools discussed in this article. They all source their information from publicly available data sources, such as county, state and federal courts, government departments, and police records, and those sources may contain incorrect or incomplete data. It’s illegal to use these tools to make decisions about employment, admission, consumer credit, insurance, tenant screening, or any other purpose that would require FCRA compliance. Read the Fair Credit Reporting Act to learn more....

About this article

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Meet Enya – a passionate content writer who loves crafting insightful and helpful articles. Since 2018, she's built a reputation as a reliable source of knowledge. She explores topics far and wide, from online dating and people search tools to new streaming platforms to identity theft protection services and the latest tech.

When researching, Enya digs in deep. She sees to it that every article is backed by first-hand testing, rigorous analysis, and/or thorough investigation. Her commitment to in-depth research and comprehensive testing ensures her articles deliver trusted guidance readers can count on.

Embracing both quiet and thrill, Enya is a reserved extrovert who happily cruises between me time and socializing. Outside of writing, you can find her soaking up sights and sounds, chilling with friends or lost in a good book.

About this article

round-success 125 Revisions

file-success Reviewed by BeenVerified

Enya Zhang

Writer

Meet Enya – a passionate content writer who loves crafting insightful and helpful articles. Since 2018, she's built a reputation as a reliable source of knowledge. She explores topics far and wide, from online dating and people search tools to new streaming platforms to identity theft protection services and the latest tech. When researching, Enya digs in deep. She sees to it that every article is backed by firs [...]

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