There are certain things you must consider before purchasing a car. Most importantly, before you purchase a car, you must check if it’s in the right condition and if the safety tools are in place.
VIN tools also provide you with more details about the model of the vehicle, year, serial number, make, etc. Interestingly, you don’t even need to get to your car dealer’s shop before checking your VIN, you can decode your VIN online. This article will take you through all there is to know about VIN, including the best free VIN check. Have an interesting read!
What is VIN?
To answer the question; “what is a VIN number”, first you have to understand the full meaning of VIN. It stands for Vehicle Identification Number. Otherwise, you may call it frame number or chassis number.
VIN is a unique code with 17 characters issued by the automotive industry (car manufacturers) vehicle to identify the purpose of identifying individual vehicles and towed vehicles. Take note that VIN is essential in proving and verifying car ownership.
VINs were first issued in 1954 in the United States. Between 1954 to 1981, VINs had no accepted standard/format, hence, different formats were used by different manufacturers. As of then, VIN only had a fixed character (digit) sequence and a concealed chassis marking.
Moving on, in 1980, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), after much deliberation, approved the new international standard of 17-digits for Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN). The VIN consists of letters and numbers to represent the identity of the vehicle by model details, engine type, title, manufacturing unit, serial number, etc.
Best free VIN decoder
Before purchasing a used car, it is necessary to carry out a VIN search to have full details of the car, including insurance, mileage, and even criminal record.
Read through to see the top best 10 free VIN decoders with unique features for carrying out a VIN Check:
VinPit is a top-ranking website that allows for VIN decoding, VIN checks, vehicle history reports, and license plate checks. Also, it contains comprehensive information concerning the assembly plant, repairs, VIN authenticity, ownership, unreported damages, and criminal records. This website is your best bet for making a selling decision or an informed purchase.
In addition, VinPit can send authentic data to attract customers for vehicle dealers. Plus, buyers can inspect hidden issues and get notified if there’s fraud. Finally, this website helps both the seller and buyer by allowing vehicle inspection and providing updated market value.
- It verifies all the crucial data to assess the true status of the vehicle
- Can accomplish license plate lookup
- Two-way VIN lookup – by state and by making
- 100% free and accurate information
- Easy to use
- Around-the-clock customer support
CARFAX is one of the best VIN decoders. This website provides detailed information but is not only limited to used cars purchased from Canada and United States after 1981. Its data is a compilation from over 100,000 outlets from both US and Canadian vehicle authorities.
Even though its list of data is detailed, it doesn’t have a comprehensive report because it has restricted access to enlist unreported damages to a car. More so, the report is liable to be manipulated by buyers or sellers since it can be edited to list facts.
- User-friendly interface
- Collect data allegedly from 100,000 different sources
- A cross-border vehicle history database
- Largest international car data reports
- Transparent and neutral data recordings
AutoCheck is another top free VIN decoder website. It has data on over 500 million vehicles from a National Vehicle Database. With AutoCheck, you can make a good decision on the best vehicle to opt for since it ranks two potential vehicles on a scale of 1 to 100 by comparing their features (such as rental history, engine type, model, etc.).
The calculation of the ranking results is based on mile, accident history, type of vehicle, and year of manufacture. This website automatically scores a vehicle whenever its VIN is searched. Unlike VinPit, it doesn’t include the service information and maintenance of a vehicle.
- An Automated Vehicle History Checker
- Unlimited Vehicle Checks by US license Plate or VIN
- One-time free check
- Quick and easy check-up
- Assess the data from scratch at every search
- List information from Canada besides the USA
CarVertical provides data for VINs of vehicles using the blockchain mechanism. This website collects data from different databases, including real-time data directly from vehicle markets. Take note that the databases are not limited to fire brigade records, car auctions, private and national registries, and more.
Another unique feature of CarVertical is its provision of up-to-date detailed information about vehicle specifications. This feature is available because of the blockchain mechanism that verifies the information provided and ensures the authentic reports of the VIN are uploaded.
- Blockchain-based car history checker
- Real-time data collection directly from cars
- Gives reports on accidents or theft
- Max and instant record about the target car
- 24/7 customer service with the high rate of response
This VIN decoder website offers confirmed real-time information from NMVTIS, the biggest database in the US. Its archive contains over 40 million vehicle reports.
The aim of EpicVIN, the best free VIN decoder in, the UK, is to provide a well-detailed car report (containing the car’s history, engine type, model, and other necessary specifications) without high pricing.
- Catch hidden damages
- Past Odometer Readings
- Photos of past sales or ownership history
- Tells How was the car used
- Verify even written information
- Saves your money by serving free of cost
Bumper, the best free VIN decoder, Reddit, allows you to check the specifications of vehicles with VIN. Its information on the history of damage to vehicles is accurate. Also, it collects data from companies like scrap yards, salvage auctions, insurance, and towing agencies.
Just like other VIN websites, Bumper’s data report contains vehicles’ safety records, market value, sale listing, and more. It provides potential buyers with detailed car reports from up-to-date used vehicle data.
- Multi-search options – Make, Model, Year, and License Plate
- NMVTIS-approved data provider
- Gather data from the top directories in the industry – JD, Power, NHTSA
- Can save you 3x more than the competitors
- Millions of visitors is evident of trust
- A one-stop solution for buying, selling and monitoring cars
ClearVin is another free Audi VIN decoder. It has numerous collaborations with many automotive industries (including state agencies, financial instruments, etc) to gather quality information to provide its users with updated vehicle reports.
This website has detailed information on insurance requirements, ownership status, and loan check. You can also other vehicle specs by VIN
ClearVin files also contain burglary, repair, and recall documents. The major disadvantage of this VIN decoder is that it is slow and doesn’t have updated data when compared to sites like Bumper and CarVertical.
- One-click instant result
- Provide you with a sample report
- Excellent Customer Support
- Hassle-free and fast report
- Offers the best value for the money
Cebia is most reliable for checking VIN, even for used cars. To use the website to access the information you need, you’ll need to scan the vehicle for criminal activities. This site uses the Auto tracer system to provide standard vehicle model data. Their partners range from importers to car suppliers and retailers.
Cebia has more data reports on vehicles in Slovakia and the Czech Republic because most of the information reports are from local automobile markets.
- Most inclusive online car history check
- A host of services – inspection, security information, and technical information
- Hundreds of locations across the country
- Easy to use
- Provide max information on free check
VinFreeCheck provides detailed information (models, car brands, engine brands) on vehicles by partnering with NMVTIS and NHTSA. Its major aim is to contribute to the purchasing decision of a potential buyer by proving repair and criminal reports.
The VinFreeCheck allows for vehicle inspection. Its premium users have access to information on the odometer reading, mileage, and collision of vehicles.
- Two-method check – VIN and License Plate Report
- Provides historical mileage and sales records
- Max checks on Credit Card free check
- Real-time market price info
AutoDNA, the best free VIN decoder, in Europe, provides millions of databases and VIN check data from different big global vehicle documentation providers. This website also provides data on used cars from both Europe and the US.
On AutoDNA, you can carry out a free VIN check, in Europe. Each vehicle history report has vital data, and there’s also a section for comparing cars from different markets. Even though the different vehicles have varied prices, they still have a competitive stance in the market.
- Verify information from the most reliable sources
- 24/7 customer support to ensure max uptime
- Provide all the important vehicle history records, including past owners, usage, damage photos, and more
- Vehicle equipment record, and QR code will help you make a precise decision
Where can you find the vehicle’s VIN?
VINs can be found on both the vehicle and its documents. For the vehicles, the location of their VIN depends on the vehicle model (or make).
Here’s where to find the VIN number:
You can find your VIN on your vehicle’s dashboard, specifically where the dashboard and the edge of the windshield meet, on the driver’s side. You’ll see the VIN fixed to a metal plate and the code inscribed in a way that anybody can read it well.
Driver’s side doorjamb
Another place where you can find your VIN is close to the driver’s side doorjamb. It’s very easy to locate. Once you open the driver’s door, you find it.
Your VIN can be found on your insurance card. It is usually written with other information like your insurance information. Hence, ensure you keep your card in a safe place (like your glove box).
You can check your engine’s firewall or under the hood for your VIN. Most times, the VIN is inscribed on the vehicle’s engine for security reasons.
How to Decode the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?
The only way to get reliable information about a vehicle is to decode the VIN. Vehicle Registration Agencies in the US and automotive makers have databases that carry all the VINs. Take note the different sections of the VIN do not have the same meaning because they follow the 1970 and 1989 ISO standards.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Code of Federal Regulations, the VIN has 3 sections:
- World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI): The first 3 characters belong to this section. WMI tells you the vehicle’s country of origin, vehicle type, and manufacturer.
- Vehicle Description Section (VDS): The next 6 characters (from 4th to 9th position) are in the VDS section. Characters in this section tell the vital specifications of the vehicle (such as the engine type, transmission type, and size).
- Vehicle Identification Section (VIS): The last 10 to 17 characters is the unique serial number of every Ford vehicle. The VIS tells the vehicle’s unique serial code and manufacturing plant. Take note that flexible fuel vehicles are identified by the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th characters. With a BMW-free VIN decoder, you can check the full details of the BMW, including its specifications.
Where does the free VIN decoder get information?
Most free VIN decoders get information from reliable sources like law enforcement agencies, traffic safety authorities, and vehicle manufacturers. The best part is that these decoders provide up-to-date and well-detailed information.
In most cases, the databases of these VIN decoders, like VinPit, are managed by automobile manufacturers and vehicle registration agencies in countries like Europe and USA.
How Do You Use the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Free VIN Check?
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is a free VIN check that provides basic status information (whether the vehicle was misplaced, stolen, or salvaged) about the vehicle.
For the NICB website, the number of VIN searches allowed is restricted to just 5 searches per IP address daily. The steps to follow when conducting a VIN search on the NICB website are as follows:
- Go to the NICB website
- Input your VIN on the search bar
- Click on the box on the “I’m not a robot” and “I agree to the terms and conditions” options
- Select the “search VIN” option. Immediately, the status review of the vehicle will appear on the screen.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
Q: Is there anything like Carfax But free?
When buying a used car is the stake, many consumers rely on Carfax and other services to check the vehicle’s history. If you have a budget constraint for a paid service, there are many VIN checks like Carfax.
A Vehicle History Report (VHR) from an online service such as AutoCheck or VinAudit provides detailed information about the car’s history, including past ownership, title information, recalls, and accidents. With the help of these services, you can access this data for free.
Q: Is it worth it to pay for VIN check?
With the increasing instances of car theft and fraud, it is crucial to be sure that you are buying a vehicle with a valid Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). A VIN check is an essential part of the car-buying process and can help protect you from buying a stolen or otherwise problematic vehicle. Paying for a VIN check can help to ensure that your new car has not been in any serious accidents, has no outstanding recalls, and is free from liens and other issues.
A VIN check typically costs around $20-50, depending on the company used. Most reputable dealerships will include this cost in the price of the car as part of their service. However, if you purchase from an individual seller or dealership without such services included, it may be worth paying for a VIN check separately.
Q: Is there a site better than Carfax?
When researching used cars, Carfax has been the go-to source for decades. The site provides customers with detailed vehicle histories and insights into potential problems before purchasing. While Carfax continues to be popular, and other sites offer similar services that may provide better value or more in-depth analysis.
Many car buyers turn to AutoCheck because of its ability to provide side-by-side comparisons of two vehicles at once, along with accurate pricing data on used cars. It also offers a score based on the vehicle’s condition and ownership history, which can help inform buyers’ decisions.
Furthermore, AutoCheck provides an unlimited vehicle report package subscription, so users don’t have to worry about running out of reports.
Q: What is the most accurate vehicle history report?
The accuracy of a vehicle’s history report is important when considering a purchase. Different companies offer varying levels of thoroughness, so it can be difficult to decipher which is the most reliable.
A comprehensive report should cover all aspects of the car’s past, including any accidents or repairs that may have occurred. Additionally, they should include details such as estimated value, ownership history, and open recalls. The best vehicle history reports will also provide information on mileage discrepancies or odometer fraud. It’s important to determine if the vehicle has been registered in multiple states or countries, as this could affect reliability and safety ratings.
Ensure you are getting an unbiased service by researching what other customers have said about their experiences with specific companies before selecting a provider for your own needs.
Q: Which is better, AutoCheck or Carfax?
When shopping for a used car, you must research it before purchasing. Two of the most popular tools available are AutoCheck and Carfax, both of which provide detailed vehicle histories. But which one should you choose?
AutoCheck offers a comprehensive report that provides information about the vehicle’s history, including any reported accidents, title transfers, service records, odometer readings, and more. It also gives buyers access to an expert-reviewed panel of automotive professionals who can evaluate the car they are interested in buying.
Carfax provides similar information but includes additional features such as the ability to search by VIN or license plate and check for vehicle recalls. In addition, Carfax allows buyers to access accident reports from multiple states and other countries if applicable.
Q: How much does a VIN check-up cost?
Vehicle identification number (VIN) checks are essential for anyone considering the purchase of a used car. A VIN check can provide valuable information about the car’s history, including the number of owners it has had if there have been any reported accidents, and whether or not the vehicle has ever been stolen. But how much does a VIN check cost?
The cost of a VIN check varies depending on which service you use and how much information you need. Basic VIN checks typically range from $10 to $50, while more in-depth reports may cost up to $100 or more. Many services also offer monthly or yearly packages that allow unlimited access to their database at discounted rates.
Additionally, some dealers will include a free VINCheck as part of their sales process when buying a used car from them directly.
Q: How much does it cost to check a VIN number?
Checking Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) is essential to buying or selling a car. Knowing the car’s history can save you from costly repairs or other problems down the road. But how much does it cost to check a VIN?
The cost for checking a VIN number varies depending on the depth of detail you want to access. Free sources are available online but often only provide limited information, such as make and model year. You’ll need to pay for a subscription service for more detailed information, such as accident history and odometer readings.
Basic subscriptions typically range between $20-50, while more comprehensive packages can run up to hundreds of dollars per year. It is also common for many services to offer discounts when purchasing in bulk or if you sign up for extended-term contracts.
Q: What is the best way to check a car’s history?
When considering a new or used vehicle, it’s important to check its history. Knowing the car’s maintenance record and any accidents, problems, or recalls can help you make an informed decision. So, what is the best way to check a car’s history?
Several resources are available to ensure you have all the information before making your purchase. Start by obtaining a vehicle history report like Carfax or Autocheck, which provide details on accident and repair histories and mileage.
If you’re buying from a dealer, ask for service records and owner history to understand how the car was taken care of in its past life. Additionally, be sure to take it for a test drive and have it inspected by an independent mechanic who can look for signs of wear and tear that may not be captured in other reports.
Q: Is there a free way to look up VIN numbers?
There are many free VIN decoders you can use to look up your VIN and all the car history report. You could use websites like VinPit, AutoCheck, Bumper, CarVertical, and AutoDNA. Also, Cebia is among the best VIN decoder app.
Once you login into any of the websites, fills in your details on the VIN lookup form. Click on “check VIN”, and the full report will appear. Alternatively, you can input the license plate of your vehicle to do a license plate lookup to access the full car history report.
Q: How do you parse a VIN?
If you’re asking, “how do I parse my free VIN?” You need to understand the different sections on a VIN that exists:
- World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) – This section comprises the first 3 digits. For example, digits 1, 4, and 5 represent the United States (as the country of origin). The second digit represents the manufacturer. For example, “C” stands for Chrysler. The third digit, together with the first 2 digits, represents the vehicle type. For example, if it’s a Chevrolet truck VIN, it will be represented with a ‘C.’
- Vehicle Descriptor Section – comprises digits 4 to 8 and represents information like engine type, model type, body type, and transmission. Digit 9 is called a check digit (security code).
- Vehicle Identification Section (VIS) – comprises digits 10 to 17. Digit 10 represents the model year of the vehicle, digit 11 represents the manufacturer’s plant code, and digits 12 to 17 represent the production number (they are usually sequential).
Q: How do I check a VIN before 1980?
Before 1980, vehicle manufacturers had different formats of VINs. Prior to 1980, to a VIN, you’ll have to follow the steps below:
- Put together the vehicle information such as the engine type, transmission type, vehicle year, and manufacturer.
- Reach out to the vehicle manufacturers by calling, sending an email, or writing a letter to the vehicle company to inquire about the VIN of your vehicle.
- Contact an automotive parts manufacturer if the vehicle had previously been repaired to inquire about the parts that were fixed.
- Lastly, contact the previous owner of the vehicle if it’s a used car. He or she will most likely have records (or documents) that contain the VIN.
Q: What year did the 17-digit VIN become mandatory?
The 17-digit VIN, which is a unique code, became a standard for all vehicle manufacturers to assign to the vehicle manufactured beginning from January 1981.
However, prior to 1981, VIN had different formats, and vehicle manufacturers formed the 17-digit VIN the way they deemed fit. Plus, there was no code regulation at the time. But, from 1981, the reverse became the case as all vehicles manufactured in North America in 1981 had VINs that comprised of a combination of 17 digits and letters.
Q: Do older vehicles have fewer VINs?
Since VINs became a part of the Code of Regulation in 1981, all vehicles manufactured must be assigned a 17-digit VIN to be roadworthy and valid.
However, before 1981 some vehicles had a VIN of just 14 digits. Those vehicles are termed older vehicles, and in this modern era, they will not decode properly with search systems since they don’t fit the 17-digit VIN standard.
Q: Can 2 vehicles have the same VIN?
VINs are unique codes assigned to a particular vehicle manufactured. The 17-digit code assigned to it is completely different from others. It is the code that differentiates the vehicle from other vehicles.
Even though 2 vehicles are manufactured at the same time by the same manufacturer, their VINs will always be different. No 2 vehicles can ever have the same VIN. If you doubt, try decoding the VINs of 2 different vehicles and you’ll see the disparities.
Q: Do VIN expire?
No, VINs don’t expire. It’s normal for your driver’s license and insurance agreement to expire. They can be renewed yearly. VINs on the other hand never expire. It doesn’t matter whether you bought your car in 2000 or in 1990, the VIN remains the same forever.
In fact, even if the car is stolen or salvaged, the VIN will remain the same after you recover it. Don’t bother about renewing your VIN, they never expire.
Q: How can you tell if a VIN has been tampered with?
The best way to figure this out is to contact the department of vehicle manufacturers. Normally, the VIN for a car will always march the car in terms of model, engine type, year of manufacture, etc.
You can tell if a VIN has been tampered with if it has been scratched and the plate has been removed. After your VIN number lookup, if you notice any alterations, recall out to the vehicle licensing agency in your vicinity immediately.
Q: How do I get a new VIN plate?
If you notice that your VIN plate has been destroyed, you can apply to get a new one. However, the application will not be valid if you don’t have proof to show that you need your VIN plate to be replaced. To get a new VIN plate, do the following:
- Look for where your VIN is so you could record the model, year, color, make, and license plate number of your vehicle.
- Get a copy of your vehicle’s title that has the VIN of the car.
- Reach out to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your local vicinity for basic instructions on what you’ll need to get a new VIN plate. Your vehicle will be inspected by a DMV official or police officer to confirm that the VIN plate is destroyed before you’ll be finally given a new one.
VIN check allows prospective vehicle buyers to have access to a well-detailed report on their chosen vehicle. Again, with a VIN check, the possibility of buying a faulty vehicle or one gotten through dubious means is quite low.
This best free VIN check article offers 10 options extensively discussed. Just go to any of the sites, do your VIN check, buy your car, and have an amazing driving experience.