Whether you are purchasing a used car, checking on your existing vehicle, or looking to sell your car, a good VIN lookup will provide you valuable insights and help you make informed decisions.
This post explores the most effective ways to pull a free vehicle history report, along with the best paid options you may consider for a comprehensive vehicle report.
Table of contents
What is VIN?
VIN stands for vehicle identification number. It’s a 17-charater code that is assigned to every vehicle and, just like the fingerprint to the car, can be used to track the car’s information, including specifications, recalls, registrations, warranty claims, theft records, and insurance coverage.
While a VIN may look like a random string of numbers, each number and letter gives an important piece of information about the vehicle.
As you can see from the image, the first character tells you where in the world the vehicle was built. The second character denotes the manufacturer. The fourth to the eighth characters show the vehicle brand, engine size, and type. The ninth character is a vehicle security code. The tenth character is the model year of the car. The eleventh character tells you which plant assembled the car, and the last six numbers are the serial number of the vehicle.
1. Get a Free Vehicle History Report from the Dealer
Many dealers provide a free vehicle history report for used cars. So if you’re buying from a dealership, you can check with them to see if they offer one.
It’s very likely that the dealer has a subscription to a VIN check service. And in some cases, the dealer would be happy to provide you with a free vehicle history report if that’s what it takes to close the deal.
2. Get a Free VIN Check at National Insurance Crime Bureau
National Insurance Vrime Bureau (NICB) provides a free VIN lookup service that allows you to find out if the vehicle was ever reported as lost or stolen, or if it was issued a salvage title in the past.
You can run a free VIN check with NICB to bring up records associated with the vehicle. Just visit the NICB official site and enter the VIN. Then, tick the terms and conditions checkbox and the reCAPTCHA checkbox to proceed.
You’ll be able to access the report in seconds. Note that you can only run 5 searches within a 24-hour period per IP address.
3. Check NHTSA
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a free VIN lookup tool to help you find out if there are any open recalls that need to be addressed for the vehicle in question.
4. Get a Free Flood Check from Carfax
Carfax is undoubtedly the most well-known option for conducting a VIN check. With its extensive vehicle history database, you’re more likely to pull up precise vehicle records. However, a single Carfax report costs $39.99, making it less then ideal for those seeking budget-friendly or free VIN reports.
Fortunately, Carfax offers a FREE flood check to help you find out if a vehicle has a reported flooded branded title. While this feature solely informs you of past flood damage to the vehicle, it remains the best free flood check tool available.
VINCheck.info is a free VIN check service that aims to offer in-depth vehicle history information for free. You can look up a VIN and get the following information:
- Vehicle photos
- Theft records
- Salvage auction records
- Market value
- Vehicle specs
- Vehicle safety
VehicleHistory.com is another no-cost option that provides free used car information. It allows you to look up a VIN and pull up the following information: selling history, recall information, vehicle specifications and more.
Get Detailed VIN Report from Paid VIN Checks
A free VIN check will be able to help you spot major red flags, but if you want a more comprehensive vehicle history report and you’re willing to pay a modest fee, consider using a paid service like BeenVerified, Bumper, or EpicVin.
A paid VIN check service generally provides a deeper dive into a vehicle’s history. In addition to the basic information like history of recalls, thefts or crashes, you can also learn details like its owner history, the vehicle specifications, and other historical data.
BeenVerified is one of the best people search engines with access to thousands of public records. It provides a VIN lookup tool that allows you to get a comprehensive look into any vehicle’s history.
For example, below is a sample BeenVerified vehicle report I generated. The report includes images of the vehicle, associated records including accident history, theft incidents, and recalls, among others. It also uncovers potential sale listings, showcasing the vehicle’s price and mileage. This proves invaluable when contemplating the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle.
Bumper is another professional vehicle search website gathering vehicle records from sources like government agencies, insurance providers, car industry sources and more.
You can look up comprehensive and reliable vehicle history and owner information by VIN number, license plate, or vehicle specification such as year, make and model. Here’s how to do it:
Open Bumper vehicle search page and search by VIN number.
Wait for Bumper to scour its database and find you all the available records associated with the VIN number.
EpicVIN is also a dedicated vehicle search website that allows you to search for vehicles by VIN number or US license plate and get a deeper dive into the information from a number of sources.
The final report offers useful data including ownership history, recalls, open safety recalls, original specifications, sales history, and more.
Buying a used car is a smart move for your wallet, but it also comes with possible pitfalls you want to watch out for – that’s why a VIN check is a necessity for anyone who is looking to buy a used car.
You can run a free VIN check with the NICB VIN check tool – which should be able to reveal major red flags if there are any. If you want a detailed vehicle history report, consider using a paid service like BeenVerified.