Before purchasing any type of used vehicle it’s important to both find a VIN number conduct a VIN number lookup to research the history of the car, truck or motorcycle you are thinking about buying. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who don’t know how to find a VIN number on a vehicle and/or how to plug that information into a VIN number search service like AutoCheck.
With that in mind, today I’m going to write about how these numbers work, where to find a VIN number on a vehicle and how to use this information to conduct a VIN number lookup to retrieve a vehicle history report.
Part #1 – What Does a VIN Number Look Like?
First off, the acronym VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. The number is made up of seventeen characters that consist of both numbers and letters. Much like each person has a unique fingerprint, each car has a unique VIN number that can provide vital information about the real history of a vehicle.
Side note: If a vehicle was produced before 1981 then the VIN number will have between 11 and 17 characters (numbers or letters). If the vehicle was produced after this time then it must have 17 characters.
Part #2 – How to Find a VIN number on a Car or Truck.
The two easiest places to find a 17 digit truck or car VIN number is either in the front driver’s side dash (look for a metal strip) or front drivers side door jam by the door latch.
Although the number might look a bit different depending on the make, model and year of the vehicle, here is an example of what one might look like.
If you are having difficulty reading or finding the VIN number through the windshield or door jam then you can also check on the insurance card or vehicle title for this information.
Part #3 – How to Find a VIN number on a Motorcycle.
When trying to find a VIN number on a motorcycle you will want to check out all sides of the steering head of the bike. There you should be able to see a metal plate with information either engraved or printed on it.
The first 3 numbers will tell you who the manufacturer of the bike is. This means that all bikes with the same make should have the same 3 characters to start their VIN number. The next 6 characters will indicate certain characteristics of the bike and the last 8 characters provide a specific set of numbers and letters that are unique to only that motorcycle.
Part #4 – How to Run a VIN Number Lookup or VIN Number Check.
After you find the VIN number now all you need to do is utilize a VIN number lookup service like AutoCheck to retrieve the background information on a vehicle. Essentially all you will do is plug in the 17 character number and let the AutoCheck system do the rest.
I prefer to search VIN numbers using AutoCheck over other services like CarFax because they cost less, allow you to run unlimited reports over a 30 day period for one low price (essential when checking out multiple vehicles), and their reports are extremely accurate. (Click Here To Run An AutoCheck Vin Number Lookup!)
Part #5 – Additional VIN Number Check Tips
If you are like me, you might be searching for used cars on the Internet. For example, I buy a lot of vehicles on craigslist and eBay that are located several hundred miles away from my location. If you want to save yourself time and frustration then ask the seller of the vehicle to find the VIN number and provide it to you over the phone.
This way, you can get the car history by VIN number before taking the time and gas to check out the car in person. If a seller doesn’t want to provide this information over the phone then don’t waste your time checking out the vehicle. Odds are that you wouldn’t want to deal with someone trying to withhold information from you in the first place.
In closing, many people who are new to purchasing used cars simply don’t know what to look for when making a purchase. This is why learning how to find a VIN number on a vehicle and conduct a VIN number look up are important steps when it comes to the used car buying process. You don’t have to be a mechanic when you know how to find a VIN number and use it to retrieve accurate vehicle history reports from your home computer.