Vehicle identification numbers, also referred to as VINs, have the same purpose as Social Security numbers and bar codes. VINs are 17-digit codes that serve as unique identifiers for vehicles of all types. Cars, trucks and motorcycles that are used as both personal and or commercial vehicles have a VIN. These numbers are significant because every specification there is to know about a vehicle can be found through them. No VIN is duplicated or used multiple times, which makes finding a vehicle easier.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Credit card
- VIN number
Go to an automotive resource website (See Resources), and type the 17-digit VIN characters in the blank data form provided when the site opens in a new browser window. All letters in the VIN should be capitalised.
Click on the link beside or below the data form designated for the VIN. Your browser will then be redirected to the results for the VIN you provided. In most cases, the results will display the vehicle's year, make and model at the top of the screen.
Click on the result link next to the exact year, make and model of the vehicle for the VIN you provided.
Purchase a vehicle report to obtain detailed information on the vehicle's specific location, accident reports, maintenance records and ownership history.
Type your credit card information in the blank data forms provided that will be provided on the site. You may be asked to provide a cardholder's name, billing and e-mail addresses, card type, number and expiration date to process your order. The security code may also be requested, depending on which site you use.
Tips and warnings
- If you can copy and paste the vehicle's VIN from a website, this is a highly recommended method for searching for the vehicle. Use this method for accuracy purposes to ensure the VIN is entered correctly and that you locate the right vehicle.
- For guaranteed accuracy, sites like CarFax and Free VIN Check are recommended automotive resource sites. CarFax and Free VIN Check offer basic information, such as the make, model and state location for the vehicle. They are used by most dealerships and online automotive classifieds, such as Yahoo! Auto and eBay Motors. There are other sites that have not been tested for accuracy that you can use, but you are not guaranteed to get the accuracy you'll pay for.
- Finding a vehicle by VIN can be done for free. But obtaining detailed specifications for the vehicle and VIN reports will come with a cost.
- Be advised, you cannot purchase specific information for any vehicle report. Its an all or nothing purchase when it comes to VIN history and reports. You must purchase the full report regardless of how much information you want to check for the vehicle.
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