VIN lookup search guide
Learn how to perform a VIN lookup online and learn more about any vehicle in the United States with an online Vin lookup search. A VIN is a 17 character and number code that identifies a vehicle. This guide will provide all that you need to know in order to know what a VIN number is, how to find a VIN number on a vehicle, and how to perform a VIN lookup directly online once you find the VIN number.
What is a VIN number
Finding a VIN number should not be that big of a deal if you know where to look. A VIN number is a vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN is a unique number that helps identify that particular vehicle. No two vehicle VIN numbers are the same. The VIN number itself is comprised of 17 characters that are made up of both digits and capital letters. Keep in mind that pre-1981 vehicles had less than the 17 characters we see today. Pre-1981 VID numbers were anywhere from 11 to 17 characters in length.
Explaining the VIN Code
Have you ever wondered what all the numbers and letters mean on a VIN code? if so, you’re not alone. Each and every number or letter has a specific meaning and we explain them below.
Where can a VIN number be located on a vehicle?
There are a few places that a VIN number can be located. The most common place is on the diver side where the windshield meets the dashboard. This can be viewable from standing outside the car in most cases. There are other places a VIN number can be that is a little more difficult to see. The below guide will explain the four most common places to search for a VIN number.
- Most common: Driver side interior dash board
- Drivers side door pillar
- Front end of frame – Common on older cars
- Under Hood (Common on engine blocks of most gas cars)
Before buying a used car check the VIN number
Country VIN Codes
|4 / 5||United States|
VIN manufacturing years
|A||1980 or 2010||T||1996|
|B||1981 or 2011||V||1997|
|C||1982 or 2012||W||1998|
|D||1983 or 2013||X||1999|
|E||1984 or 2014||Y||2000|
|F||1985 or 2015||1||2001|
|G||1986 or 2016||2||2002|
|H||1987 or 2017||3||2003|
|J||1988 or 2018||4||2004|
|K||1989 or 2019||5||2005|
The VIN number is a unique identification number that allows anyone the chance to check the true identity of a car. This identification process allows someone the chance to see if the car is suspect or not. These numbers are stored within vehicle registration agencies and databases so they can accurately validate the vehicle’s identity, just by inputting the VIN number.
Before buying a used car you should always check the VIN number. If you run a vehicle VIN check and see something is off with the VIN odds are there is something not right with that vehicle, your best bet is to stay clear and walk away. Here are some common reasons to perform a VIN lookup:
- Purchasing a used car
- Checking on a recall
- Checking on the history of a car
What happens if a VIN number is different from a log book?
Don’t by the vehicle, plain and simple. Something is not right and the car could have a VIN number from a different car. It happens when someone like a criminal takes a VIN number from one car and adds that to another car to hide the fact it could be stolen. The act of moving one VIN number to another car is called VIN number cloning. This is a highly illegal and common thing to do when a car is stolen.
What are other numbers sometimes seen on a car? Are they a VIN number?
A chassis number is also the same thing as a VIN number. These numbers are fixed and stamped to the Chassis of a vehicle. Another long number code that should not be confused with a VIN number is an engine number. This number is not fixed to a car because it can be removed. All vehicles are given an engine number. This number will explain the power output and the size of an engine.
How to perform a VIN lookup?
There are a few ways to perform a VIN lookup online. We will explain some of the best places to start a VIN lookup search below. when performing a VIN lookup, check, or VIN number check your looking for a detailed report of the vehicle’s history. Because we explain above how to find the VIN number you should be ready to input that number into a search to view the vehicle’s history. A VIN check can help find the following types of things on a vehicle:
- Liens on a vehicle
- Maintenance the was done on a vehicle
- Past ownership
- Title history
- Faulty odometer settings
- Accident history
- Damage such as flooding
- Airbag deployments
- And more…
Keep in mind that there are free VIN checks out there, however, they will not provide the information you really need. Instead, you will probably get recalls or complaints on the vehicle, but not the accident history, and more important aspects of running a VIN check you should be seeing.
Used car dealership
If you’re at a used car dealership then you should ask for the Carfax directly. Most of the larger used car dealership around the United States already have the ability to pull these reports with subscriptions to the major VIN check websites like Carfax and Autocheck.
Here is something to keep in mind. If you do ask for a report and the dealership is reluctant to run a report or provide an outdated report that was already run on the vehicle, that’s a red flag and proceed with caution.
Carfax for your VIN check
Carfax is the most well-known provider that helps run a vehicle history report within the U.S. These reports are not cheap and can run 39.99 for a single report. We ask you this? Is it worth the price for something you could be getting ready to purchase that is in the thousands of dollars? We think it is and its an important step before purchasing a used car. Carfax has the most detailed report of all history reports and it is the go-to report for almost all dealerships.
AutoCheck for VIN checks
AutoCheck is another large name in the VIN check industry. You may have heard that Experian owns AutoCheck and you would be correct. AutoCheck charges 24.99 for a single report. There are other plans that might better suit a used car buyer. Why? Because most people will be looking at multiple cars over a period of time and need to run more than just one report. 49.99 will give users access to 25 reports in 21 days.
AutoCheck uses a scoring system that may be confusing when first looking at how it works. Users interested in this can learn more by reading the AutoCheck score and how it works.
Remember running a VIN search is a good first step for anyone who is looking to purchase a used vehicle. Even though this may not prevent you from buying a car that may not be mechanical sound it will help in purchasing a car that has been in accident, flooded, or stolen. When possible