Check the vehicle identification number of a used car by first locating the vehicle's 17-character VIN on the dash or inside of the driver's side door frame. Choose an online VIN checking service, such as the one provided for free by the National Insurance Crime Bureau website, and enter the VIN into the appropriate field. Follow the service's instructions to retrieve the VIN search results, which typically include accident and theft history. In some cases, repairs are also included.
Services such as CARFAX.com and AutoCheck.com provide full vehicle history reports that are more comprehensive than a standard free VIN lookup. Auto history reports include information such as recalls, service history, odometer readings and lemon history, as well as whether any safety devices on the car, including airbags, have ever been deployed. Auto history reports are not free and vary in cost, depending on the service.
VINs consist of numbers and letters that represent information about the vehicle, including manufacturer, model year, model name, engine type, and country of origin. Decode the vehicle's VIN using a website such as VINDecoder.net to see more information about the used vehicle in question. VIN information that does not match with the information provided about the vehicle you are considering purchasing may be an indicator of a stolen vehicle or a dishonest seller.