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What Should You Know Before Buying or Selling a Car?
Vehicle history reports are important, but they only give some of the answers you should know before buying or selling a vehicle.
iVIN Reports are powered by iSeeCars' award-winning data analysis. Try our comprehensive VIN checks to get all of the answers you need, make an informed decision and have peace of mind.
Compare iVIN Data Reports by iSeeCars
We analyze the data. You negotiate a better deal.
Market Value Price Analysis
Determines the fair local market value to help you negotiate
Vehicle Condition Analysis
Analyzes avg. miles for similar cars and positives/negatives
Similar Cars Comparison
Analyzes price, mileage and market value of similar cars
Market Demand and Supply
Reveals how many similar cars are for sale near you
Provides records of price changes, prior listings and sales
Unbiased Dealer Scorecard
Analyzes price competitiveness, transparency and responsiveness
Multi-Year Depreciation Analysis
Estimates what to expect and compares similar vehicles
Best Times to Buy and Sell
Analyzes historical selling price by month of similar cars
Free Theft Record Check
Shows National Insurance Crime Bureau database reports
Free Recall History Check
Shows past recalls and open recalls that haven't been fixed
Provides a comprehensive list of specs and features
Vehicle Title/Lien Info
Limited availability, varies depending on the state's DMV
Vehicle History Summary
Available for iVIN Data Reports when provided by the seller
3 Important Questions Our Reports Answer
What's a fair price for this car?
Know the fair local market value and compare the price with siimlar cars for sale near you.
How does this vehicle compare?
Find out the average mileage for similar cars, key price considerations and iSeeCars listing history.
What else should I know or check?
Check open recalls and reported thefts, and see unbiased dealer ratings all in one place
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How To Run a Free VIN Check
What is a VIN or vehicle identification number?
VIN stands for "vehicle identification number." It is the unique code assigned by manufacturers for a specific automobile. A VIN is the automotive equivalent of a social security number. No two vehicles in operation have the same VIN.
A VIN is made up of 17 alphanumeric characters with each letter or number revealing identifying information about the vehicle including year, make, model, engine size, manufacturer, manufacturing location, and safety features. Along with providing vehicle specifications, a VIN can also be used to identify past or open recalls, registrations, warranty claims and status, insurance coverage and theft records.
Why is checking a VIN on a used car important?
If you're considering buying a used car, it's important to check the vehicle's VIN to help determine the quality and reliability of a used car. If the advertised VIN number does not match the make and model of an advertised vehicle, it can indicate a potential scam or illegal modifications. A standard third-party VIN check may also reveal important vehicle history information, including if it has been officially reported as stolen or if it has a clean title.
How do I look up a VIN number to get a free iSeeCars VIN Report?
You can sign up to get 5 free lookups and access 5 full VIN reports every month. Low-cost paid subscription plans are also available if you want to see more reports.
Here's where you can look up one of our free VIN reports:
- Desktop computer or mobile website - Free VIN lookup
- iSeeCars free mobile Android and iOS VIN apps - Download our app so you can quickly scan a vehicle's barcode and instantly view the VIN report
- All used car listings on the iSeeCars website - Click the "Full Report" button to see the report
- Google Chrome extension - Automatically generates our iVIN report when a VIN is found on any website you're browsing, like Craigslist and car shopping sites
How can I check a car's vehicle history report for free?
Some iSeeCars reports include a free vehicle history report when it's provided by the vehicle's seller. These CARFAX or AutoCheck vehicle history summaries provide helpful information about a car's past, including reported accidents, the number of previous owners, and a reported salvage title. Knowing the free vehicle history info helps you better understand the condition of the vehicle and anticipate future problems.
Can I look up my vehicle specs by VIN number?
Yes. iSeeCars iVIN Data Reports include key vehicle specifications, including trim, color, transmission type, drivetrain, engine type, towing capacity and more. These specs also show how the car compares to the average for its vehicle class.
Can I check safety recalls and recall information by VIN number?
Yes. Each iSeeCars iVIN Data Report includes a free recall check that indicates if there are any open or past recalls for the vehicle. The VIN report also links to the NHTSA database, which identifies (a) if there is an open recall for any new or used cars and (b) information about all past recalls for the vehicle, including safety-related recalls such as those involving Takata airbags.
Along with being a safety hazard, unresolved recalls including emissions recalls can result in a failed vehicle inspection. If a vehicle has an open recall, ask the seller to address the recall notice because it will likely involve recall repairs.
Is a VIN always 17 digits?
Beginning in 1981, all vehicles are required to have a 17-digit VIN. Vehicles manufactured before 1981 have VINs that are between 11 and 17 characters.
In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standardized how VINs are formatted. Under the NHTSA standard, a VIN is composed of 17 characters consisting of numbers and letters, and each set of numbers has a specific meaning. A VIN never includes the letters I, O and Q to avoid being mistaken for 1 and 0 (zero).
Can VIN numbers be changed?
It's a federal crime to alter, remove or tamper with a vehicle's VIN number.
Where Can I Find a Car's VIN?
The VIN is usually located on the dashboard of the driver's side of a vehicle. It can be found by standing outside of the car and looking at the corner where the dashboard meets the windshield.
The Door Jamb
If you don't see the VIN on the dashboard, it can be found by opening the driver's side door and looking inside the door jamb. A VIN is also included on a vehicle's registration, vehicle title and insurance card.
How To Decode VIN Number Characters
There are 17 digits or characters in each vehicle's unique VIN. Here is what each VIN digit represents to help you better understand your vehicle.
Digit 1: Country of Origin
The first digit specifies where the vehicle was manufactured. Here are the most common country codes and countries:
- United States
- Foreign vehicle made in the US
Digits 2-3: Manufacturer & Division
The second digit identifies the specific vehicle's manufacturer. It's often the first letter of the manufacturer's name, such as B for BMW vehicles.
Since some characters can stand for multiple manufacturers, the third digit combines with the first two to indicate the specific manufacturing division. For example, JM1 can designate Mazda, while JMB can designate Mitsubishi. The first three digits together are known as the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI).
Here are some of the commonly used second digits:
- General Motors (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, Buick)
Digits 4-8: Vehicle Descriptor Section
These characters identify specific details about the car's vehicle type.
- Digit 4: Safety features and information specific to the model
- Digit 5: The vehicle's series
- Digits 6 & 7: Bodystyle and body type
- Digit 8: Engine size
Digit 9: Security Code
The ninth digit is the check digit, which is a security code used to help detect incorrect VINs, based on US Department of Transportation guidelines.
Digit 10: Model Year
The tenth digit represents the vehicle's model year.
- 1981-2000: Designated by the letters B through Y, with the letters I, O, Q, U and Z excluded.
- 2001-2009: Designated by the numbers 1 through 9 indicate the model years 2001 through 2009.
- 2010-Present: In 2010, the alphabet cycle started again with A and will continue through the year 2030. In 2031, the number cycle of 1 through 9 will start again until 2039.
Digit 11: Manufacturing Plant
The eleventh digit indicates the vehicle's assembly plant. Each vehicle manufacturer has its own set of plant codes. For example, these are the VIN characters for some of Toyota's many manufacturing plants: R for Lafayette, Indiana; S for Princeton, Indiana; and U for Georgetown, Kentucky.
Digits 12-17: Production Serial Numbers
These ending digits are the production line numbers that represent the vehicle's unique production or serial number. (Digits 10-17 are collectively known as the Vehicle Identifier Section.)