Previous vehicle ownership records are checked by looking at a vehicle history report using a car's vehicle identification number, explains the Department of Motor Vehicles. These reports are also call VIN checks and can be purchased at websites like Carfax and Check that VIN.
Carfax vehicle history reports check for multiple issues like previous structural damage of the car, lemon history, total loss accident history and recall information, lists the Department of Motor Vehicles. The reports also include the vehicle registration, title information, vehicle usage and odometer readings.
Check that VIN is a website that also offers used car reports and sells them for a fee of $3.50, as of 2015. This company accesses the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System and is able to reveal if the car is a junk, salvage or flood vehicle. Once the vehicle identification number is entered, it is checked in three steps. A link to a sample report is available for viewing before an actual report is purchased.
Where to locate the VIN is shown on a diagram on the DMV's site. It is typically found on the interior dash of the driver's side, but is also under the hood in the front of the engine, the trunk under the spare tire or the driver door jam. The website also states it is helpful for both sellers and buyers to obtain this report. Free reports are available but will be limited, not including accident history or stolen vehicle checks.