Free License Plate Search and Lookup Tool
We are always looking for better and easier ways to research cars we are interested in buying. From over 270 million cars registered in the US, thousands are being offered for sale. How can you make sure you’re not getting a lemon or stolen car? The risk of getting a used car with a bad history cannot be discounted. Even sellers know that reliable vehicle history can boost their clients’ buyer confidence. A free license plate lookup is quick and practical tool to get vehicle details you may not get from a dealership or private seller.
What is the difference between a license plate lookup and a VIN check?
The main difference between these tools is the number you need for the search:
The license plate number is assigned upon registration by the state DMV to identify a car. This unique number is surface-printed or embossed on a metal or plastic plate. States have different policies on where the plate should be mounted, and the distinctive color scheme, logo, and registration number format to use.
The vehicle identification number is a unique series of 17 letters and numbers assigned to a vehicle at production. The letters Q(q), I(i) and O(o) are not used because they look like 1 and 0.
A license plate lookup is very similar to a standard VIN check. The results will be similar to what you see with a VIN check. Both the license plate number and the VIN are on the vehicle and the registration documents. Some sellers on social media or online may provide the license plate only instead of the VIN. In a worst-case scenario, the seller may purposely leave out the VIN to hide problems with the car such as accident damage or a salvaged title
What Do I Get from a Free License Plate Search?
- Title branding. This is an official designation by a state agency telling you if a car has any damage and may be unsafe to drive. A branded title will tell you if a car has been salvaged, is totaled or junk from an accident, or has been deemed a lemon by the manufacturer. Not all states have a DMV license plate lookup that can show title branding.
- Accident records. A car can sustain major damage in an accident and be repaired. To what level is hard to say. Was the repair work done correctly and to manufacturer specifications? Only experienced and well-equipped repair shops are capable of returnlilng a damaged car to spec. Be wary of any accident damage and ask for all records of the work done.
- Car theft records. The license plate history will tell you if the car has been stolen in the past. The more troubling detail is if it shows the car as currently stolen. That means the seller is not the owner of the car and probably should be reported to the local police.
- Roadworthiness Is the car road legal? This can vary by state but some of the basic requirements for roadworthiness are headlights, taillights, side and rearview mirrors, seat belts, tires designated for street use and not for the track, and finally, the car in generally good working order. It may sound silly but make sure a car you are considering buying has these basic features, most of which are linked to your safety.
- Vehicle inspection . Does the car meet emission requirements set by your local government? Some cities and countries will also go further by making some safety checks. But if a car can’t meet some of the basic requirement listed above, more than likely it won’t pass an inspection.
- Registration records. A license plate lookup can reveal issues with a car’s registration. Who wants to bother with a car that can’t be registered? The details a search provider give you all the reasons why a DMV won’t make a car road legal. Doing some simple research goes a long way to making you feel better about the car you want to buy. And any other information that is publicly available.
Here’s Why You Should Do a Free License Plate Search or Lookup
Over 2,000 cars are stolen daily in the US. Some of these cars are now being offered for sale to unsuspecting consumers. In 2020, the number of stolen cars rose by 10.9 percent. Cars stolen during the pandemic could be entering the used car market.
Around 106 fatal vehicle crashes happen in the US daily based on 2019 crash data. While some vehicles can still be restored, others may end up in the junk yard. Still, a number of them may just have enough support and fixes that they can pass for a good vehicle with no issues.
Paid vehicle history reports are expensive. However, providers who charge as much as $40 concede that reports may not be complete and the contents may vary. Our license plate search tool taps mostly the same sources of public vehicle data.
Vehicle registration regulations vary across states. A vehicle from one state with a clean title may actually have an accident record or salvage branded title from another state. A DMV license plate lookup in one state will search vehicles registered locally. When you search license plates using our tool, you will be able to cover all 50 states.
In summary, a license plate lookup can point you to the right car. As a buyer, you want to know as much as you can about a car you are considering buying. As a seller, you want to make sure of buyer confidence. Acquiring crucial details can help buyers make decisions they can rely on.