How to Check a Car Registration History

by Alex Burke
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When making a vehicle transaction or inheriting a vehicle without paperwork, it's important to know the history of the car. A properly registered vehicle can help the owner avoid fines for driving an unregistered car. Purchasing a complete vehicle history will include the registration history and can provide more information about the car that may be valuable to the owner. Locating car registration records always begins with its vehicle identification number or VIN.

Step 1

Write down the vehicle identification number for the vehicle. A VIN is usually located on the driver's side dashboard, where the dash meets the front windshield. Numbers are stamped on small metal plates and attached to the dashboard. A VIN also can be found on driver's side door posts, inside fenders and a variety of other places, depending upon the manufacturer. Check the car owner's manual for other locations if the VIN is not found in these locations.

Step 2

Call or visit an official office of the state department motor vehicle division and ask about tracking a car's registration. State motor vehicle departments that provide registration tracking typically require a fee.

Step 3

Call a local company that has a contract with the state to provide this type of service and ask about the process for obtaining a motor vehicle record. To locate this type of business, check a phone directory under "government" and look for "motor vehicles registration." This type of business usually offers other services like title transfers and driver's license renewal. Fees may vary by city, county and state.

Step 4

Purchase a car registration history from an online tracking service. Fees will vary for this option. This type of service business has paid to connect with each state's vehicle registration database and can offer a wider search capability than a single state database can.

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