How to Find out the History of a Car You Want to Buy

It isn’t difficult to get a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) report for a car. However, you do need to know how to do it right. The following hints and tips will help you to have all the information together needed to run a vehicle history report.

Finding the VIN

First of all, you have to find the VIN itself. This has to be prominently displayed in three places:

  • The engine block
  • The dashboard
  • The side door well

It should also be listed on all paperwork that is linked to the vehicle.

However, there are a number of other places where you can find the VIN number. Some cars will also have it stamped on a range of different non-moving parts. These are there for a very good reason: if a car is stolen, it is common for a ‘chop shop’ to take the different parts away and put them in different cars, thereby making it difficult to determine what the original vehicle actually is. Similarly, if a car has been in a serious accident and has been totaled, some of the parts may be salvaged and sold on. This is not necessarily an illegal practice, but you do need to know about it.

Checking the VIN

Once you have the VIN number, and you have ascertained that it corresponds to the car, there are a number of places where you can have it checked. Many of these places operate online. You can usually order a lesser report, or a complete vehicle history, with the latter being more expensive. There are a number of companies out there that will say their report is completely free, but you will usually find that the information you receive is very limited.

It is important, therefore, that you look into exactly what you get with the company you are considering. As a bare minimum, you should receive:

  • Information on whether there are any liens or leases on the car.
  • A summary of the vehicle’s value.
  • Any recall history and an active monitor, which will tell you whether or not the car is a Lemon.
  • The history of the vehicle, which is the most important thing.

Generally speaking, all you have to do is enter the VIN number and some of your personal details, including your payment details. You can then choose what type of information you require, and you will be offered a number of payment options that best match your requirements. Once you have chosen, you will be provided with a printable report on the vehicle you are considering.

It is very important that you run a check like this if you are considering purchasing a used car. It is, in actual fact, the only way to tell whether or not you are accidentally buying a stolen vehicle. Not just that, however, it also tells you a lot of important details about the car that should be able to guide you on the price you can expect to pay for it.


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