To perform a title search, begin by inputting the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. Search for a title for free using the National Insurance Crime Bureau's website.
Locate the VIN either on the driver's side dashboard or the driver's door jamb. A VIN is a specific 17-digit code that is unique to each vehicle. As of 2015, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, or NCIB, searches for titles with the help of about 150 partners, including insurance companies. The NICB website contains information on whether the car was stolen and never recovered or has a designated salvage title. Because it is a free search site that depends on information from affiliate companies, it does not necessarily list all the title information.
The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System is also connected to many DMV portals and produces information such as the last state of the title, the presence of title brands, odometer rollbacks, total loss history and salvage history. It may result in a clean title search, but it is not a comprehensive search, and it costs a small fee to search for the title.
If all else fails, hire a title search company. These companies turn up the most comprehensive information concerning a title search, including lemon returns, airbag deployment, frame damage and manufacturer recalls. This is useful when purchasing a used vehicle or closing via documentation the sale of a vehicle.