VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. It’s a code unique to each vehicle, just as a human fingerprint is. A VIN is composed of 17 characters (numbers and letters) that function as an identifier for a vehicle. Here’s what each VIN character means:
When looking to buy a pre-owned car, you can use the VIN to obtain a vehicle history report. This VIN search can reveal the car’s history, including accidents, title status, registration history, and more. All this information can help you determine if the vehicle is worth buying or has been stolen.
In this article, you will learn how to use a VIN to track a car, especially if it’s been taken.
|The VIN is unique to every car, like a fingerprint for humans. It contains essential details about the vehicle.|
|You can use the VIN to search for vehicle history.|
|Some free websites offer VIN lookups, like the NICB and DMV.|
|Paid lookup tools like BeenVerified and ClearVIN can give you more detailed vehicle search results.|
|The VIN provides much information but does not work like GPS which allows real-time car tracking.|
Methods on How To Find A Car Using The VIN
The VIN serves as a key to accessing a lot of details about the history of a car and its current status. While buying or selling a used car, the VIN can help you get accurate information about the car’s history.
The following sections explain the four methods for finding a car using the VIN.
1. Visit NICB’s official website to track a car using the VIN.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau is a non-profit organization dedicated to combating and preventing insurance fraud and vehicle theft. NICB partners with consumers, insurance firms, and law enforcement in fighting against insurance crimes.
NICB has established a popular VINCheck database service for over 16 years. The platform has provided users with more than 5.5 million VIN searches, protecting consumers shopping for used cars.
Recent updates to VINCheck allow users to take a picture of a car’s VIN and use it to search for details about the car, instead of manually entering the VIN.
The NICB site limits searches to five in 24 hours per IP address. NICB VINCheck will tell you if the car you are searching for has been:
- reported as stolen or salvaged
- declared as a total loss after an accident
Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the NICB’s official website to get car details using the VIN:
- Go to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s official website.
- Click on VINCHECK SEARCH in the upper-right corner of the home page.
- Enter the car’s VIN into the bar that says Look up a VIN.
- If you have a photo of the VIN, click the Camera icon, then Choose File.
- Click Agree to Terms and Conditions and verify that you are not a robot.
Alt tag: National Insurance Crime Bureau Look up a VIN, Search VIN
- Tap Search VIN.
Alt tag: National Insurance Crime Bureau VINCheck results
From there, you can see the search results of the car you’re looking for.
|Helpful Article: Truelist has other related articles on searching for people online. Check out articles on how to find someone on social media and finding someone on Instagram without their username.|
2. Search VIN To Get Car Details Using Look-Up Tools
Various look-up tools can help you get car details using the VIN. Car enthusiasts, buyers, and sellers frequently use these services to learn about a vehicle’s history.
There are both free and paid tools available. While free tools can provide basic information about a vehicle, paid look-up tools can give a more comprehensive vehicle report.
If you buy a used car, look-up tools help you check and validate the seller’s claims. These services help you understand a car’s potential issues, accident history, and more.
Specifically, look-up tools can provide you with details about the following:
- registration record
- ownership history
- recent sales transaction
- repairs history
- odometer readings and history
- previous usage type (rental, personal, fleet)
Here are some of the top look-up tools that you can use to get details about the car with the VIN:
|Did You Know? |
Unlike registration numbers, a car’s VIN cannot be changed. A VIN is assigned to a new car during the production process, not after it’s been sold to an owner. It’s also permanent.
BeenVerified gives you more details about a car by simply entering the VIN. The platform runs a search through public records and provides the following car information:
- accident record
- theft record
- salvage record
- market value
- ownership history
- specification details
BeenVerified merges public record information from different sources and creates a database. This gives more comprehensive vehicle search results. The platform is easy to use and is available on mobile apps for iOS and Android.
For pricing, BeenVerified offers a 7-day trial for a minimal fee of $1, and after that, you’ll be charged based on your subscription plan:
- One-month subscription: $26.89/month
- Three-month subscription: $17.48/month
If you’re interested in using BeenVerified to find car details, follow these steps:
- Go to BeenVerified.com.
- Click on Vehicle Search.
Alt tag: BeenVerified vehicle search
- Enter the VIN.
- Tap Search to let BeenVerified start searching for car details associated with the VIN.
Alt tag: BeenVerified enter VIN on the search bar and hit search
- Tap on the information you would like to be included in the BeenVerified search. Click Continue, and wait for the search to be completed.
Alt tag: BeenVerified what information are you interested in, Continue button
- To see the results, enter your email address. If you have a membership or subscription, tap Click Here to login to your BeenVerified account.
Alt tag: BeenVerified Save your results, enter email address and continue
- If you are not yet a member, BeenVerified will ask you to subscribe to view the report. It only takes a few minutes to complete the subscription process.
You can choose a 7-day economy trial for $1 or a $5 luxury subscription with a PDF report download.
|Did You Know? |
You can also use BeenVerified to find someone on Instagram by email. BeenVerified is a versatile lookup tool that lets you do many reverse searches.
ClearVIN is a VIN check service that offers car history reports. It partners with the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System (NMVTIS) and the US Department of Justice, aiming to provide reliable information about used car buyers.
ClearVIN also utilizes data from salvage yards, towing agencies, financial institutions, federal agencies, and local departments. These allow the platform to provide detailed information, which include the following:
- car ownership
- changes in title
- insurance information
- theft history records
- car sales history
- market values
- safety recalls
Unlike other lookup tools that work on a subscription basis, ClearVIN’s pricing is based on the number of reports you need. Here’s their pricing per report:
- 1 report: $14.99
- 3 reports: $21.98 ($7.32 per report)
- 5 reports: $28.99 ($5.79 per report)
To start searching through a VIN on ClearVIN, follow the steps below:
- Visit ClearVIN’s official website.
- Click Resources and VIN Lookup. You can also get an instant vehicle report by entering the 17-character VIN and clicking Lookup VIN Now.
Alt tag: ClearVIN resources drop down VIN Lookup
- Enter the 17-character VIN in the search bar and verify that you are not a robot. ClearVIN gives you the option to enter your license plate to search for vehicle history.
- Click Check VIN for Free.
Alt tag: ClearVIN get your VIN Lookup now page
- Wait for ClearVIN to generate a report.
- You must pay to get the full report of the vehicle that you’re looking for.
Alt tag: ClearVIN vehicle history report, purchase full history
- Select your report package from the different options. After payment, you will be directed to a page containing the vehicle report.
Here’s an example of a full report that you can get from ClearVIN:
Image source: ClearVIN
|Note: While ClearVin provides a detailed report, such as ownership history, the federal law prohibits the disclosure of the owner’s personal information. It’s illegal to reveal the previous owner’s information, especially their driver’s license, vehicle registration, and other records.|
3. Check Auction Websites Where The Vehicle Might Get Listed
If your car is stolen or missing, one way to track it is by checking auction websites. Car auction websites offer a platform for buying and selling used cars. These sites offer transparency with detailed listings, vehicle history reports, and research tools that ensure informed decision-making.
Alt tag: One way to track stolen cars is to check auction sites.
Copart, in particular, allows buyers to browse their listings easily using the VIN or license plate. It is an online vehicle auction platform that lists salvage and used vehicles.
Copart has a vehicle lookup service that allows you to track a vehicle using its VIN. By inputting the VIN, you can access the following details:
- car’s history
- auction status
- car images
- damage details
- vehicle description (make, model, year)
- title status (clean, salvage, damaged, rebuilt, etc.)
- estimated repair cost
The following steps describe how you can use the Copart auction site to track a car with a VIN:
- Go to Copart.com.
- Enter the VIN on the search bar and hit Search Inventory.
Alt tag: Copart.com VIN search
- Check the vehicle history results.
Alt tag: Copart VIN search result
You can also see auction details in the results, like the starting bid and the auction’s end time.
4. Contact Your Local DMV
The US Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, is a government agency responsible for vehicle registration, licensing, and records. You can get car details using the VIN by contacting your local DMV.
Consulting the DMV gives you access to their authoritative resources and expertise on vehicle tracking. This move ensures that you get accurate and reliable information.
Here are step-by-step instructions for contacting your local DMV to track a vehicle using its VIN:
- Click this link to get your state’s DMV contact number.
- Inquire about tracking a car by its VIN.
- Follow the DMV’s instructions.
- Provide documents related to your query.
- Wait for the results and review them.
Alternatively, you can use your state’s DMV website to do your own VIN lookup search:
- Go to dmv.usa.com.
- Enter your State in the Search DMV by State search box. You can also look for your state in a list like the one below.
Alt tag: DMV USA search DMV by state
- Search for Vehicle or Driver Record Request or Vehicle Information Request on your chosen state’s result page.
In California, this is where you can begin your vehicle record request using the DMV website:
Alt tag: California DMV vehicle record request page
- Depending on your state’s DMV site, you may need to create an account and complete a registration process before you can do anything. This process may also require you to enter your email address and contact number.
- Follow the DMV’s instructions for your VIN lookup or vehicle history request.
|Note: Most DMV transactions are not free. They come with a $2 convenience fee.|
There are free and paid sites that let you search for vehicle history using a VIN. The free ones provide enough details to start your car hunt. However, if you prefer to receive more comprehensive reports to hasten your search, choose the paid services.
Tracking a car by VIN reveals its last service location, market value, accident history, and more. This code can significantly help you choose a used car or track a stolen one.
FAQ On How To Track a Car By VIN
Is the chassis number and VIN the same?
Yes, the two are the same. The chassis number is more commonly known as the VIN.
Is it safe to give out your VIN?
Giving your VIN to a potential buyer when selling your car is generally safe. But, before you share personal information like your VIN, take precautions and verify the buyer’s identity and motivations first.
How accurate are vehicle history reports?
Not all vehicle history reports are accurate. However, information from government records, insurance companies, and auto dealerships is generally more trustworthy.
How do I check if a VIN is valid?
One way to determine whether a VIN is valid is to see if it contains 17 characters. It should not have invalid characters like i or o. You can also check your VIN on the NICB site to see if it works.
What can someone do with my VIN?
While your VIN may be visible to others, scammers may take it and use it to register a stolen vehicle in your name. They can be involved in VIN cloning and may use your VIN on other schemes.