Whether you work at a dealership or want to purchase a used vehicle for yourself, we highly recommend running the VIN through a free VIN check website. While some websites try to claim that they’re free up until the last moment when they want a credit card number, there are a few legitimate free VIN check websites you can use.
Because of all the sketchy sites and misleading information out there, we wanted to highlight a few VIN check sites that are actually free for you here. Not only that, but we’ll highlight what you can expect from these free reports and why you should always get one before purchasing a used vehicle.
10 Best Free VIN Check & Lookup Websites
1. Vehicle History – Best Free VIN Check Overall
If you are looking for a free VIN check website that is giving you a lot of information for free, Vehicle History is one of the best websites for this task.
It provides a full VIN decoding feature, all the public sales records they can find, all open recalls, and they even do their best to track down pictures of the actual vehicle you’re looking at!
While the information is often outdated, what you’re finding is accurate. You’re only getting all the publicly available information, which means there might be holes in what you’re viewing.
It’s an outstanding free service, but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as the paid versions. Still, before you potentially waste your money on a paid report from a different site, go ahead and run it through Vehicle History.
If there are any glaring red flags you can find out before you spend anything for the full report, potentially saving you some money.
- Completely free VIN decoding
- Lists full vehicle sale record
- It also includes all open recalls
- If available, it includes pictures of the actual vehicle
- No option for a comprehensive report
2. Mechanic Base VIN Lookup – Our Free VIN Decoder
We are developing the best free VIN check site here on Mechanic Base, and you can try it right now, even though it’s just a demo without full features. However, we will add a lot more features in the future, but we still think it’s useful. Everything you see there is for free and you will not be pushed to purchase anything to get more information.
However, in the future, we will also add features to get a full vehicle history report. A vehicle history report is useful for getting an overview of a car’s past. The report will show you information such as whether the car has been in any accidents if it has been declared a total loss by an insurance company, and whether it has ever been used as a rental or loaner car.
- Completely free VIN decoding
- Easy to use
- Gives the basic necessary information
- Missing some information
- Vehicle History Report not an option
3. I See Cars – Best Mobile App
I See Cars is another service that gives you a ton of information on vehicles without the need to spend a dime. However, unlike other sites to use I See Cars you need to create an account.
Even worse, you only get five free reports each month. After that you need to sign up for either their iVIN Pro or iVIN Lite subscription plan.
But if you do take the time to create an account and don’t plan to use it a ton, it’s a great choice. They have a mobile app you can put right on your smartphone, giving you all the information you’d get from a full report from their website.
Even better, all you need to do to get a report from the mobile app is to scan the VIN directly from the vehicle. It will then give you the option to run the VIN for the full report, making it easier than ever compared to traditional VIN checkers.
On the I See Cars website you can also search for used cars, which certainly lends some additional conditionals to their local market trends features – although that’s only available with a paid subscription.
However, even with all these great features, I See Cars couldn’t top our list simply because it doesn’t offer as much information as other paid services – even with their paid subscription. It’s why they offer CARFAX integration with their top plan, but even then, you need to purchase the CARFAX reports separately.
It’s an excellent free service for your first five reports but stick with the free option. If you’re planning on purchasing a full report, there are better options out there.
- They have a VIN barcode app
- You get car buying analysis
- You can search for used cars right on their site
- In-depth car info on free reports
- Only five free reports each month
- You need to create an account
- Not as much information as other paid services
4. VIN Check Info – Notable Mention
If you’re looking exclusively for free VIN information, then VIN Check Info is another outstanding choice. You don’t have to spend a dime to get anything on their site, and it offers a ton of useful information for you.
Free services include:
- Comprehensive historical records.
- Sales transactions.
- Towing and impound history.
- Even the theft history of the vehicle.
Moreover, they give you a comprehensive chart that estimates the cost of ownership of the vehicle you’re looking at for the next five years, helping you decide if it’s in your budget.
It also comes with a free VIN decoding service that lets you know everything the vehicle you’re looking at came with from the factory.
VIN Check Info is a great service with tons of information you can use to decide on a vehicle, but keep in mind it doesn’t have quite the same amount of information as the paid services. Still, if you’re thinking about paying for a report through another service, we highly recommend running it through VIN Check Info first.
That way if there’s something there that will keep you away from the vehicle, you can find out before you purchase a report and save yourself some money.
- Free historical records
- Free VIN Decoder
- Free sales, towing, and impound history
- Free theft history
- Free ownership cost estimate
- No comprehensive report option
5. Epic VIN
Epic VIN is an excellent service, but if you’re looking for something completely free, it leaves you wanting for a little more. The free information includes the engine, last reported odometer reading, the last known selling price, the last known country, and even if there are any accidents or odometer problems on the record.
But that’s where the information stops. Even if there are accidents or odometer problems, you can find out specifics unless you purchase the full report. Moreover, they hold back a ton of information including the ownership history, open recalls, and even if it’s a salvage title.
The full service is well worth the price, especially if you purchase multiple reports at once since it significantly drives down the price. It’s nice that they give you a little bit of information before you decide to purchase the full report, but because of the lack of information we recommend using the more comprehensive free reports mentioned above.
If those reports come back with information and you still want to run the full report, then it’s alright to head over to Epic VIN and purchase a report. That’s really the best way to use Epic VIN, but it’s a service that’s best if you’re looking to purchase multiple reports.
- Subscription plans are affordable
- You get some information before you decide to purchase the full report
- You need to purchase to get full reports
- There’s not a ton of free information
Many of the sites you run the VIN through use the NICB database to check for theft and total loss records simply because of how reliable it is. Unlike other sites on our list, NICB is a non-profit dedicated to helping prevent fraud.
Their VIN check service gives you the vehicle’s theft and total loss records, but that’s the only information they provide on the vehicles. There’s no VIN decoding service or anything else, it’s all about theft and total loss records.
However, if you want more information about the vehicle, they recommend several sites you can go to for the full report. But none of the sites they recommend have free services, instead they all charge for everything, which is a major drawback.
It’s an extremely accurate and valuable tool you can use to check every vehicle before you purchase it. In fact, even if you’re not interested in the full history of the vehicle, we highly recommend running the VIN through the NICB database. It’s there to prevent fraud and scams, and it’s a simple and easy way to help protect yourself.
The only drawback outside of the limited information is that you can only run five VINs per hour from the same IP address, so you can’t run a ton of vehicles non-stop. But unless you work at a dealership where you purchase a ton of used vehicles, this really isn’t a problem.
- Completely free service
- They recommend where to go for paid reports
- Free theft records
- Free total loss records
- Very limited amount of information
- You can only run five VINs per hour
7. Clear VIN
Clear VIN is another service that only gives you an extremely limited amount of information with a free report. In fact, outside of the place the manufacturer made the vehicle and the engine inside it, they really don’t give you any other useful information.
Instead, they want you to pay for a report. But if you do fork over the money for a report they provide a ton of information for you to go through. This includes the total number of previous owners, the last known odometer reading, insurance records, salvage and junk titles, lien history, and so much more.
It’s everything you could possibly want to know about a vehicle before you purchase it all wrapped up into one report. Even better, it takes all that information and gives the vehicle a “ClearVin Vehicle Rating” which lets you know how the vehicle stacks up.
This gives you a great idea of how much you should pay for it, especially if you compare it with Kelly Blue Book information.
But just like we’ve recommended with other paid reports, we highly recommend running it through a few of the completely free services above before paying for a report like this one.
While the information might be great, often you can find the most glaring issues with a free report and save yourself some money since you don’t need to purchase the full report for that particular vehicle.
- Tons of options for paid reports
- Very comprehensive records
- They give you a vehicle rating
- Very limited free information
If you’re looking at VIN reports, you can’t get too far before you hear about CARFAX. CARFAX is the largest name in the industry for a reason, but because of their notoriety, they can get away with charging quite a bit more.
While most other companies start their paid reports around $10 to $15 for a single vehicle report, CARFAX charges three to four times that amount. But there’s also no denying that a CARFAX report holds more sway than a paid report from any other company.
They give you tons of information like the vehicle’s accident history, salvage titles, reported mileage, total service history, and so much more. It’s the most comprehensive and reliable report out there, but you’re also paying for it.
CARFAX does not have a free service for anything, so don’t expect to get any information from them until you pay. It’s also why we recommend running the vehicle through one of the free services above before purchasing a CARFAX report for your vehicle.
- Tons of information in reports
- Extremely reliable reports
- You can also search by license plate number
- They even purchase cars!
- No free service
- More expensive reports
Bumper is an extremely similar service to CARFAX, and just like CARFAX, they don’t offer any free services. However, unlike CARFAX they offer a service that allows you to run as many VINs as you want in a set time frame.
They also run trial specials for reduced rates, making it a far more affordable service than CARFAX. This is especially true if you work at a dealership of some sort and need to run lots of reports.
Bumper gives you theft records, accident history, background information, market values, ownership costs, and so much more. While it’s not quite as comprehensive as a CARFAX report it’s pretty close, and the significantly lower cost helps offset this quite a bit.
However, since Bumper offers unlimited searches with a membership, there’s really no reason to run it through multiple services like you should with many comprehensive reports. We really like Bumper and would rank it higher on our list, but since they don’t offer any free services we can’t put it any higher on our list.
- Tons of information in reports
- Extremely reliable reports
- You can search by license plate too
- It gives you an estimated market value
- More affordable than CARFAX
- No free service
10. Check That VIN
Check That VIN is another VIN reporting service that you might want to consider if you only need limited information on the vehicle. Compared to other paid service options, Check That VIN is extremely low-cost.
Unfortunately, that lower cost also translates to a service that doesn’t give you a ton of information. Each report includes salvage, junk, previous owner information, last known odometer readings, and more.
While this is all information you want to know before you purchase a vehicle, the truth is you can get all this information from a completely free report from one of the services at the top of our list. And if you’re willing to purchase a report you should expect more information than what Check That VIN gives you.
You could do worse because of the extremely low cost of each report, but we recommend steering clear and going with one of the services farther up the list. That’s even if you plan on spending money for a comprehensive report, Check That VIN simply isn’t the best way to go.
- Very affordable reports
- You get junk, salvage, and previous owner information
- No free service
- Not a ton of information in the reports
Now that you know a little more about the best VIN check services out there, it’s time to figure out why you should check a VIN in the first place and what you should expect. There are tons of questions out there, which is why we wanted to answer some of the most common for you here.
Are There Truly Free VIN Checks?
Yes. While free VIN checks don’t give you as much information as a paid report, plenty of services give you basic information on your vehicle from the VIN without charging anything.
What Can a Free VIN Report Give You?
Free VIN checks should give you free theft, salvage, title, flood, and basic vehicle information. These services don’t cost anything and there’s no reason you should pay for them.
What Can a Paid VIN Report Give You?
If you’re looking for service history, previous odometer readings, previous owner information, lien information, or information about previous use, you’ll likely need a paid VIN report. It’s a more comprehensive report, but it’s not free.
Why Can’t I Get a Full VIN Report for Free?
Just because a record is public doesn’t mean it’s free. Government agencies often charge to let you access this information, which takes time. The VIN checker doesn’t want to work at a loss, so that means passing on some of the cost to you for a fee.
What’s the Difference Between a VIN Checker and Decoder?
VIN checkers and VIN decoders are two common things, but they’re not the same. A VIN decoder simply breaks down everything from the VIN without any outside data. It will tell you all about the specifications the vehicle left the factory with, but it won’t tell you anything else.
A VIN checker might use a VIN decoder to give you that basic information too, but it should also provide you with theft, salvage, title, and flood information. This is information available from public records linked to the VIN, not from the VIN itself.
Now that you know a little more about the different free VIN check services out there and what you can expect from them and their paid counterparts, it’s up to you to decide what you need and what service you like the most.
While some services are better than others, the important thing is that you at least run it through something. This drastically reduces your chances of falling victim to fraud or a scam, and it can even give you a few more insights into what’s going on with the vehicle.
So, the next time you plan on purchasing a vehicle take a few extra seconds to run it through a VIN check. It’s well worth it.