In order to check a vehicle's VIN online, it is necessary to purchase an official National Motor Vehicle Title Information System Vehicle History Report from one of the companies listed on the NMVTIS website, according to Edmunds.com. Most of these companies only charge a few dollars for the report.
The NMTVIS website lists 10 companies that have been approved to provide these reports, six of which can be used by individual consumers. CarFax, CVR, Experian and DMVDesk can only provide reports to recognized car dealerships.
Some of the information included within the report includes the last known odometer reading, total loss history, salvage history and brand history, according to NMTVIS. The report also includes the current state of the title and the last title date. The total loss history shows whether a vehicle ever suffered serious enough damage to be considered totaled by an insurance company, while the salvage history also shows any serious damage.
The brand history, says NMTVIS, shows the label that the state vehicle titling agency gave to the vehicle based on its condition, such as salvage, flood or junk. These brand labels are also important to show the real condition of a vehicle, so the consumer can see if the seller is trying to pass off a damaged vehicle as being in good condition.