A vehicle identification number (VIN) can tell you everything you need to know about a car. If you want to find out if a used car on the market has ever been flooded, stolen or in an accident, the VIN will tell you. Every time a car goes to a garage for maintenance, the mechanic records the VIN and what was done to the car. For consumers looking to gain more information on a potential automobile purchase, they can search for a vehicle's history by using the VIN for free.
Find the VIN on the car. A VIN can be located in a few different places: the dashboard on the driver's side, the car's frame between the carburettor and the windshield wiper, the front engine block, the rear wheel wells, the door jambs or the boot under the spare tire.
Write down the number carefully. If you make a mistake, you will not obtain the proper information about the car you plan to buy. Review the number once or twice to ensure that you have copied it correctly.
Go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In most states, the DMV will provide a VIN check for free. The car history report generated by a VIN search will tell you about accidents, major maintenance and any potential odometer issues.
Use the Internet to research the VIN. The National Insurance Crime Bureau, a non-profit organisation devoted to fighting insurance fraud and other crimes, offers a free VIN check service. On the website, simply enter the VIN, agree to the terms of service, type in the verification code and hit "Search."
Be aware that the National Insurance Crime Bureau cannot vouch for the accuracy of any information it provides. The records obtained through a VIN on that site search may contain incorrect information.