How to Look up Vehicle Vin Numbers

by Aaron Wein

The vehicle identification number, more commonly referred to as the VIN, can tell you everything about a vehicle, from the year, make and model, to ownership and even if it has been reported stolen. There are countless reasons to want to look up a car's VIN, especially when buying a used car. The VIN can reveal important information, such as odometer checks, if it's deemed a salvaged title or if it's had rapid change in ownership. You can obtain all of this information by ordering a vehicle history report online.

How to look up a vehicle's VIN

Obtain and write down the VIN of the vehicle you'd like to research. If the numbers aren't readily available, you can easily find them. Look for a small metallic plate securely fastened to the dashboard on the driver's side, where it meets the windshield. On the plate should be 17 characters--a combination of letters and numbers.

Once you have the VIN, go online and navigate to carfax.com (See the "Resources" section below for the hyperlink). Carfax has become the most popular website for vehicle history reports because it is very comprehensive.

On the carfax.com page, enter the vehicle's VIN in the text box reading "ENTER VIN (optional)." Be sure the vehicle matches the one you'd like to receive a vehicle history report on. Click the green "Continue" button.

Carfax.com will be charging you $29.99 for one vehicle history report, so have your payment account and billing information ready when prompted, to receiver the report.

View the vehicle history report. CARFAX will allow you to view your report on their website under your account. From top to bottom it will display the overall results, ownership history, title history and additional history.

Tips

  • check If you would like to print the report, you have two options:
  • check 1. Just click the "Print Report" button you will see on your computer's screen (look on the top right-hand side of the report). Or, just go to "File," scroll down to "Print," and click on it.
  • check 2. Once you get an e-mail confirmation from Carfax, you can click on the link provided, then follow the above steps.

Warning

  • close Your Carfax report is available for only 14 days, so be sure you've saved it before then.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Aaron Wein is a copy editor for Skagit Valley Publishing. He has been a writer and editor since 2004, contributing to Washington-based publications and clients such as the "Bellingham Herald," "Western Athletics," "GNAC Sports" and Microsoft. Wein obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism from Western Washington University.