How Is the History of a Vehicle Tracked Using the VIN Number?

history-vehicle-tracked-using-vin-number Credit: Mike Mozart/CC-BY 2.0

The history of a vehicle can be retrieved using the VIN, or vehicle identification number, because the VIN is always written on repair and accident records. When a VIN is looked up, all the records that are associated with the number are also retrieved.

The VIN acts as the car's signature and is always written on every document that is associated with the vehicle. When an accident occurs there is a mandatory space on the accident report that requires the driver to write down the vehicle's VIN. The same goes for repairs, liens and titles. The reports are all gathered together with the use of a Vehicle History Report.

The vehicle history report, commonly referred to as a VIN check, informs the buyer of the following:

  • Past ownership
  • Liens on the vehicle
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Title blemishes
  • True mileage
  • Water damage
  • Accident history
  • Lemon check

The use of VINs has helped many buyers find used and reliable vehicles. The vehicle history reports have also helped many sellers post honest advertisements for their vehicles. When looking to purchase a car, buyers have the option to choose between free and paid vehicle history reports. However, most free services only offer limited insight to the history of the vehicle, while paid searches offer detailed reports which can stem back several years.