The vehicle identification number, also known as the VIN, is a unique number assigned to your specific vehicle. A free VIN check reveals a complete history of your car, including the number of owners it has had, accidents it has been in and other significant information that could impact the car’s performance and reliability.
In newer models (manufactured after 1981), the VIN is a 17-digit number that has been standardized for easier decoding. Cars made prior to this year will also have a VIN, but it will not be standardized. Digits on most VINs range from 11 to 17 numbers on these vehicles.
The VIN is a necessary piece of information if you are buying or selling a vehicle, ordering a part or renewing the vehicle’s registration. It is also required if you want to check VIN number information before purchasing a used vehicle. There are a number of locations where this all-important number may be lurking.
On the Vehicle
The first place to check VIN number is on the vehicle itself. Common places to find the VIN include:
- Inside the door post on the driver’s side of the car
- In the area where the windshield and the dash meet up, also on the driver’s side
- Under the hood, either at the front of the engine block or at the front of the car frame
- At one of the rear wheel wells, just above the actual tire
- Underneath the spare tire in the trunk or rear compartment of the vehicle
If you are having trouble locating the VIN, you can also contact the manufacturer of the car for assistance. By providing the make, model and year for the vehicle, the manufacturer may be able to tell you where the VIN is likely posted. The vehicle’s manual may also supply this information.
If you cannot locate the VIN directly on the vehicle, there are other locations to check VIN number. These possibilities include:
- The original car title
- The registration card for the vehicle
- A recent insurance card or insurance policy
You may also be able to locate the information on accident or maintenance records for the vehicle.
A free VIN check is a helpful step in ensuring you have all the facts about a used car you are considering for purchase. By combining this information with a visual inspection and trip to your trusted mechanic, you can rest assured the car you choose will provide value for your hard-earned dollar.