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7 Best VIN Check Sites to Get Full Story of a Car (2024)

clock Updated: 3 weeks ago

7 Best VIN Check Sites to Get Full Story of a Car (2024)

Each vehicle has its own history. For some, it can be pretty colorful. If you’re a prospective buyer of a car in a second-hand market, it’s vital that you run a VIN check to get to know its full story1.

A VIN check not only tells you a vehicle’s specs, but also reveals its past owners, title status, distances traveled, records of previous accidents, damages, and repairs. In some circumstances, it could mean the difference between you driving home in the car of your dreams or a dud.

In this article, we’re showing you the 7 best VIN check websites for you to get a VIN checked. Some of them are completely free…


A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-character alphanumeric code given to a motor vehicle at the day it is built. As its name spells out, it is used to uniquely identify a vehicle and track significant events over its lifespan.

1. Carfax

Dating as far back as the late 1980s, Carfax is a leading provider of vehicle information. The Carfax database maintains more than 30 billion records (Yes, billion with a “B”), making it the world’s largest database for vehicle history data, and thus the gold standard for the rest of vehicle data providers.

Carfax offers a wide variety of ways for you to get a free report. For starters, you can browse through its used car listings and click through a Carfax report link if it’s available. Or, if you’re visting a Carfax-subscribing car listing site or a dealer’s site, you can also ask if they could provide a report for the particular car you have your eyes on.

If you’ve got a VIN at hand and wanted to trace its history, on the other hand, you’ll be charged a pretty penny. A single Carfax VIN report sets you back $44.99 (last time we checked it was $39.99). And although you’ll get a discount when you choose a multiple-report package, it’s still on the pricey side.

If you’re looking for more affordable options2 to run a VIN check, just move on to the section, below.

2. BeenVerified

Founded in 2007, BeenVerified is another popular destination for accurate and authentic vehicle history reports. With BeenVerified, you can enter a VIN, license plate number, or vehicle model to get an in-depth report for a vehicle. This includes automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, buses, and other types of motor vehicles.

A BeenVerified report will give you a rundown of a vehicle’s history:  functionality, previous owners, title history, accident history, maintenance records, mileage, market value, and a whole lot of other information that may be relevant to your buying or selling decision.

Get $1 Trial

Here is how to run a VIN lookup with BeenVerified:

  1. Go to BeenVerified Official Website.
  2. Enter the VIN, and click Search.
  3. Sit tight as BeenVerified scours billions of records in its database and gathers them into a report for you. Depending on the wealth of information, the whole process could take up to one minute.
Despite lacking the same recognition of Carfax, BeenVerified’s VIN lookup tool is actually pretty good. And better still, BeenVerified offers a $1 trial which allows you to pull as many as 100 reports during the 7-day period.

3. Bumper

Bumper is an NMVTIS-certified data provider. It compiles vehicle information from NMVTIS, JD Power, NHTSA, and a wide range of other industry-leading data sources.

Like a crystal ball, a Bumper VIN check will give you a detailed account of a vehicle’s past and good indications on how it will serve you in the future. Basically, it lets you know its specs, whether it was once stolen or there’s money owed on it, times it’s been passed over, services it’s received, damage suffered, and so on.

Bumper is much more than a vehicle search tool. It’s actually 5 products in one hood: vehicle history reports, marketplace, real-time car monitoring, vehicle value estimation, and vehicle comparison. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a vehicle, Bumper should be a one-stop shop for all your vehicle-related needs.

  1. To run a Bumper VIN lookup, head to Bumper Vehicle Search.
  2. Pop in your vehicle’s digits, then click SEARCH.
  3. Wait a few seconds as Bumper searches its database. Once it locates a match, it will organize the associated records into an easy-to-read report. You can then click to unlock the report.

4. EPICVIN

One more vehicle lookup tool you can add to your arsenal is EPICVIN. Much like Bumper, EPICVIN is another NMVTIS-approved data provider designed to protect you from fraud and unsafe vehicles.

The EPICVIN engine offers three types of searches for you to research a vehicle: by VIN, license number, and Year, Make and model. After that, it will generate a free preliminary report, revealing the basic yet essential information about the vehicle you are searching for: characteristics, features, odometer reading, reported accident records, and so forth.

Used cars may bring with them a lot of unknowns. If you’re shopping around for a used car, you should upgrade to EPICVIN’s full report to discover its full past and make an informed purchase decision. According to users’ feedback, a full EPICVIN report may clue you into hidden issues such as odometer manipulation, theft records, and undisclosed accidents or damages – which could impact a car’s reliability and your decision as a potential buyer.

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

5. NICB (Completely free)

NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) offers a free VIN check service to help you determine if a vehicle has been labeled as Salvage after the following situations:

  • being reported as stolen or lost, and not yet recovered
  • being damaged beyond economic repair and declared a total loss by an insurance company

Here is how to check if a vehicle has a previous theft or total loss record with NICB.

  1. Go to NICB.
  2. Enter the VIN number, tick the box next to I agree and complete the captcha. Then click SEARCH VIN.
  3. NICB will check your VIN against its database for matching records and present you with the result.
With NICB, you can run up to 5 free VIN checks over a 24-hour period.

Note that the results of an NICB VIN check are very limited. It only tells you if there are stolen or total-loss records associated with a vehicle, but barely anything more3. If you need to gather more information of a vehicle’s past, such as its ownership history, title info, accident records, and previous usage, you should check out other options in this article.

6. iSeeCars

Another resource where you can run free VIN checks is iSeeCars. iSeeCars is a used car research website with a VIN check function baked into its engine.

As a vistor, you’re entitled to one vehicle history report for free. Or, if you need to compare several vehicles, you can sign up for its free membership and log in to obtain up to 5 reports per month. The website is a for-profit used car listing site, so if you want more, a monthly subscription will eventually kick in.

7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), is a federal-level government agency. It provides a free VIN lookup tool to the public to help identify if a vehicle or its parts (e.g. tires, airbags, and seats) have safety-related defects.

All you need to do is feed the VIN number into its search box:

Although the NHTSA VIN Check tool doesn’t provide detailed information about a vehicle’s history, it does alert you to potential safety hazards.

Interesting facts about the VIN and its origin

As we’ve seen, VIN checks are invaluable for getting a complete history of a used vehicle before purchase. But where did this unique identifier originate from in the first place? Let’s take a brief look at some fascinating facts about the history and composition of the VIN.

The VIN has its roots in the 1950s as a way for automakers to track individual cars. However, it wasn’t until 1981 that the modern standardized 17-character VIN came into use. Here are some more interesting facts about the VIN:

  • The letters I, O, and Q are excluded from VINs to avoid confusion with numerals 1 and 0.
  • VINs didn’t always have a standard format – before 1981, they ranged anywhere from 5 to 17 characters depending on the manufacturer.
  • The 9th digit of the VIN is a “check digit” used to validate its accuracy. It’s calculated based on a mathematical formula using the other 16 digits.
  • VINs are stamped in multiple locations on the vehicle as a failsafe in case certain parts get removed or replaced.
  • The first 3 digits of a VIN refer to the manufacturer, vehicle type, and attributes; the remaining positions identify things like the engine type, model year, assembly plant, and more.

So in summary, the VIN has evolved over decades into a standardized method for giving every car a unique fingerprint and identity.

In searching for the top VIN check services, we cast a wide net and looked deep into the offerings from both established industry leaders and newer entrants.

Of course, Carfax, with its unrivaled database of over 30 billion records, is the gold standard that no vehicle history report can match. But the high cost of its reports motivated us to dig further.

Next, we tested competitive options like BeenVerified, Bumper, and EPICVIN. Though not as robust as Carfax, these services provide extensive details at more affordable price points.

For those only needing a report here and there, we recommend the free VIN checks from iSeeCars. And for specifically identifying salvage titles and safety defects, the official NHTSA tool is a must-use free option.

No single VIN check service can deliver the complete picture. Our recommendation is to cross-reference multiple providers, especially for major purchases. Each has unique strengths and gaps in coverage, so overlaying reports yields the most comprehensive vehicle history profile.

By extensively evaluating the top national players, promising upstarts, and even free public tools, we are confident this list provides readers with the best available VIN check services today. Use them strategically to make informed used vehicle purchase decisions and avoid buying a lemon.

Summary

Buying a used car can be a minefield, especially if you don’t know a thing about its past. Luckily, a VIN check can help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle by providing you with a backstory about its previous life. In this article, we’ve rounded up the 7 best VIN check websites for you to run a VIN check. Hopefully, it helps.

With that said, a VIN check is not the be-all and end-all for determining a car’s value and performance. To make sure you know everything about your future car and make a confident purchase, it’s equally important that you hire an independent mechanic to do a thorough visual inspection and take it for a good around-the-block test drive.

  1. r/StupidCarQuestions [UsamaBinLadder]. (2023, November 14) Why might someone ask for the vin prior to checking out a used car for sale? [Online forum post]. Reddit.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/StupidCarQuestions/comments/17uyitc/why_might_someone_ask_for_the_vin_prior_to/ ↩︎
  2. Personal Consumer Issues [dundee]. (2019, May 30) Is there a free Carfax available? [Online forum post]. Bogleheads.
    https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=282243 ↩︎
  3. General Scooter Chat [wiscootsin]. (2023, June 13) NICB vin check is worthless [Online forum post]. 49ccscoot.
    https://49ccscoot.proboards.com/thread/31341/nicb-vin-check-worthless ↩︎

Image Credits:

Image by aleksandarlittlewolf on Freepik

Image by pikisuperstar on Freepik

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 189 Revisions

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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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