Buying a used car involves a lot of due diligence. You need to find out whether the car was involved in an accident and whether all the required maintenance was done on the vehicle. Knowing a vehicle’s history will give you peace of mind that you are buying a good vehicle. Every vehicle comes with a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), which you can use to track its history.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is a VIN?
VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. Every vehicle sold in the US comes with a VIN. It’s a 17-digit number that’s used to identify a vehicle. Unlike vehicle registration numbers that change when a vehicle changes owners, the VIN remains the same throughout the vehicle’s life.
Where can you find a vehicle’s VIN?
You can find a vehicle’s VIN at a number of places. The first place you will find the VIN is in the dashboard. The VIN number is engraved on the dashboard near the windshield. You will also find the VIN at the doorjamb on the driver’s side. Another place to find the VIN is your insurance card. Insurance companies ask for a vehicle’s VIN before issuing a policy.
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Understanding the VIN
As we mentioned earlier, the VIN number is 17 digits. Here’s how those digits are broken down
World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) – The first three digits of the VIN is the WMI. It describes the country of origin of the vehicle, the type of vehicle, and the manufacturer.
Vehicle Description Section (VDS) – The next six digits represent the VDS. It tells you about the engine type, engine size, and transmission type
Vehicle Identification Section (VIS) – The last 8 digits represent the VIS. It has information about the car type, the manufacturing plant where it was made, and the unique serial number for the car.
Best free VIN Check Services
NICB VIN Check is a free VIN check service offered by National Insurance Crime Bureau. You can get detailed information about a vehicle such as accident claims, salvaged incident records, and whether the vehicle was stolen. You can use the NICB VIN Check tool five times for free within 24 hours.
VehicleHistory is another site to get a vehicle’s history such as ownership, fuel economy, and manufacturer warranty. You can find the vehicle history by simply typing in the VIN number in the search box. There is no need to register for an account
CARFAX is one of the well-known names to consumers when it comes to vehicle history. It’s also one of the most widely used vehicle reports in the US. It’s not perfect and can be manipulated at the manufacturer’s site
CarVertical addresses one of the challenges in VIN checking. Using blockchain technology, it makes it hard to manipulate vehicle information. It collects data from many sources such as auctions, national registrations, and accidents, and gives you a comprehensive report.
It’s free to use but you can only use it a few times in a 24-hour period.
AutoCheck claims to have vehicle history for more than half a billion vehicles. It differs from the other VIN check websites in that it offers a ranking for every vehicle that will help you determine its condition.
VINPIT is another free website to check the history of a vehicle based on its VIN. In addition, the website allows you to get the license plate report. This website catches vehicle incidents that other websites typically miss.
EpicVIN allows you to get free history on vehicles from the US and the UK. If you are someone who moves countries, EpicVIN is a great website to check VINs.
Getting to know the vehicle’s history before buying will save you a lot of headaches. Unscrupulous individuals and even dealers try to sell you damaged or stolen vehicles without disclosing their history. Running your own VIN check will protect you when you buy a vehicle.