What info can a VIN number lookup provide?
Our VIN lookup is powered by government agencies such as NMVTIS and NHTSA, in addition to local data from your state's department of motor vehicles. The results of our VIN search can also include data from renowned third-party automotive agencies such as J.D. Power, which can all combine to reveal important history about a vehicle, including:
- Accident history and damage reports
- Sale history, including purchase prices
- Whether the vehicle was ever totaled, listed in a salvage auction, and other title issues
- Prior ownership quantity
- Open recalls
- Standard equipment
- Estimated ownership costs based on factors including maintenance, fuel and insurance costs
Whether you're buying, selling, or researching a vehicle, our VIN search simplifies things by compiling any available info and data into one easy-to-read vehicle history report!
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How can a VIN number search help me?
The results of our VIN lookup can put you in a stronger position to negotiate a fair deal on a car by potentially providing you with its accident history, any applicable title issues, cost of maintenance, market value and more.
Even if you're the owner or seller of a vehicle, a VIN number search is beneficial. If you're trying to sell, a search may give you an idea of what you can realistically expect to get for your vehicle. And if you're not thinking about selling, a VIN lookup can inform you of any safety recalls or recommended maintenance.
How do you read a VIN number?
Our VIN decoder can help! But as a rule, VINs for vehicles produced in 1981 or later all use the 17-digit format. Older cars have VINs, but they could follow one of many formats. These 17 digits can be broken down into three sections:
The first three digits are the world manufacturer identifier, indicating where the vehicle was built and what type of vehicle it is. The next five characters are the vehicle descriptor section, which breaks down the vehicle's brand, engine size and type. The final nine characters are the vehicle identifier section. The first is a security code to prove that the VIN is valid. The next indicates model year: The format started with B for 1981, C for 1982 and so on. In 2001 car manufacturers switched to numbers, with 1 signifying 2001, 2 signifying 2002 and so on through 2009. In 2010 the format switched back to letters, using A for 2010, B for 2011 and so on. This will continue through 2030. The next character indicates the car's factory code, which is determined by each manufacturer. The final six act as the car's serial number, and are unique to each manufacturer but usually indicate the order in which the vehicle came off the plant's assembly line. For example, the 200th such vehicle off the assembly line at a given auto manufacturer factory will likely include the number 200 in the VIN. (The letters I, O, Q, U and Z are not used in a VIN.)
What is a VIN number?
A vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a 17-digit number sequence assigned to a vehicle by the manufacturer. Unlike searching a license plate, which can change over time, a vehicle's VIN is constant, making it one of the best ways to find accurate information about a vehicle and its history. A car's VIN contains important information about the basics of the vehicle, including the year, make, model, trim level and original color. Our VIN number search may also reveal more about a vehicle's history, including damage and theft reports, service records and more.
Where can you find a VIN number on a vehicle?
Since 1968, the U.S. government has required that VINs be visible from outside the vehicle, stamped on a plate on the driver's side dashboard, near where it meets the windshield. This is useful for car dealers, buyers and law enforcement. You may also find the VIN on the driver's side door jamb.
Beginning in 1969, vehicles are required to have a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards certification sticker, which also includes the VIN. The VIN on older model or classic cars may be harder to find, with the number either engraved into the vehicle's frame or even its engine. In those cases, you may be better off checking the title, registration or insurance, all of which will note the VIN.
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