Can’t find where your car’s VIN number is? Check out any of these three sites to find it for you.
When the average American needs to identify their car, they just end up talking about color, make, and model — if they’re experienced, they might know the year too — but automotive owners rarely know their VIN numbers off the top of their heads.
VINs, or Vehicle Identification Numbers, are a unique 17-digit designation given to every vehicle operating on the roads all over the world. There are a lot of reasons that you might need to find a car’s VIN: finding a vehicle’s crash history, making sure that it’s not stolen, checking to see if any liens exist, and who the car is registered to.
Finding your VIN if you have access to the car isn’t usually too difficult. The vehicle identification number will usually be placed on small squares of metal on the right side of the dashboard and within the door-jam on the driver’s side. It can also be found on insurance cards and on vehicle registration, but if you can’t find it in any of those places or if you don’t have access to the car, these sites can help.
Focused on finding VINs for Canadian and North American customers, CARPROOF.com offers a wide range of vehicle history reports designed to remove stress from the buying process.
CARPROOF offers a unique advantage over its competitors in that their reports are joined by CARPROOF True Value, a complex report that lays out an accurate price for your specific car based on mileage, vehicle history and a several other factors. CARPROOF has an advantage over some of the Internet’s other VIN checkers because it’s tailored towards both buyers and sellers in the car-selling process.
Otherwise, their vehicle history reports are standard and intensive. The CARPROOF Verified plan checks liens, which is a fancy word for any amount of money owed to a financial institution for a car, against government records to make sure their information is always accurate. The CARPROOF Claims plan, which is cheaper, does not include a lien check but still provides a complete assessment of the vehicle’s background.
Their reports cost $54.95 for the Verified plan and $39.95 for the Claims plan and are ready in minutes after being ordered.
VinCheckup is a solid alternative to CARPROOF’s more complex process yet significantly cheaper.
The main advantage VINCheckup has is that the cheaper prices for individual reports allow them to sell bundles of reports — up to 10 at a time. VINCheckup is great for a buyer who’s considering multiple offers and wants to cut down their options by checking for previous accidents or major service reports. It can also very helpful if you’re a dealer who plans to absorb a smaller car lot.
VINCheckup’s reports check for past accidents, which can seem unimportant if there’s no apparent damage to the body — but stress fractures in the vehicle’s frame can occur even if it seems like existing damage has been repaired. Damage to the axles or the vehicle’s suspension which at first seems unimportant can later evolve into a more severe problem.
VINCheckup offers one report for $14.95, five for $39.95, and 10 for $49.95. Ordering a report requires you to register.
VehicleHistory is the cheapest of the resources offered here. In fact, their mission statement calls them a “no cost, one-stop shop.”
VehicleHistory’s layout also seems the most intuitive, offering an alternative VIN check in the form of a system that lets you select make and model visually in pictures and then provides reviews on every vehicle. This is one of the primary advantages VehicleHistory has. While it isn’t very helpful for sellers, buyers find it helpful on multiple levels.
They also offer a VIN decoder, which lays out what each number in the 17-digit sequence means. As such, VehicleHistory.com can identify a vehicle by VIN alone. That can be helpful in circumstances where a car has been stolen, where it’s not uncommon for criminals to remove the VIN plates on a vehicle and replace them with different ones. It’s always important to make sure the VIN that you’re running is the one that actually goes to the car.