What Is a VIN Number?
A vehicle identification number, aka VIN, is a unique 17-character code that is specific to one vehicle, similar to a fingerprint. It’s a combination of capital letters and numbers that is usually assigned to each vehicle after it has been manufactured. Each character of a VIN represents something meaningful that provides valuable information about your car, like where it was made, the type of vehicle, or the model year.
These identifiers were first used as vehicle descriptors in 1954, but since 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made VINs a standard requirement. While different manufacturers imprint this VIN in different places, you can usually find it on the car’s dashboard.
If you’re ever considering purchasing a car and it doesn’t have a visible VIN, then you should take that as a red flag, because there is a good chance that the vehicle was stolen. This is why potential buyers are advised to run a VIN search beforehand to learn everything about the vehicle.
To help you with this process, we’ve listed our top 10 best free VIN check decoders, which you can use to quickly and easily conduct a VIN lookup for free.
- VinPit – Provides highly detailed, comprehensive car reports
- VINCheckFree – Has one of the fastest VIN search engines on the market
- Bumper – Provides mobile access to an extensive search database
- VINNumberLookup – Generates highly accurate and reliable VIN search results
10 Best VIN Check Services & Decoders
VinPit is a versatile, cutting-edge, and descriptive online VIN decoder service that provides users with access to comprehensive VIN reports that contain detailed information about the car. The report highlights the following: ownership, VIN authenticity, assembly plant, safety recalls, past registrations, accident reports, market value, unreported damage, insurance, and more.
Armed with this information, you will be able to uncover any and all red flags that pertain to its ownership. For instance, if the vehicle was previously involved in any mishaps or is a rebuilt salvage, you will be able to use this knowledge to properly gauge its real value and bargain with the seller or car dealership for a better price that truly reflects its worth.
Furthermore, the service utilizes officially registered data sources that span the 50 states and include multiple partners like car suppliers, importers, and retailers, as well as warranty, insurance, and leasing providers. This in turn ensures that all the generated VIN reports are extremely accurate and will provide you with 100% up-to-date information.
The platform has an extremely easy-to-use interface, thereby ensuring that even beginners can make use of it. And on top of that, you don’t have to spend anything to perform a VIN lookup on VinPit.
Another benefit of the service is that it does not keep track of your searches, which helps keep your information confidential. Plus, the tool allows you to conveniently download the full reports, should you prefer to keep a copy in your local storage.
When it comes to gathering valuable in-depth information about a vehicle, VINCheckFree is a top choice, as the platform provides you with basic information such as its engine and manufacturing site, as well as information that other competitors can’t dig up.
You will be able to review the vehicle’s accident or salvage record, safety evaluations, and even current market value, which makes it easy to accurately estimate just how much the car is truly worth.
Plus, the site’s search database is extensive: you can easily perform a VIN check on vehicles from every state, and since their decoder works for all auto manufacturers worldwide, this ensures that you will be able to get the information that you need, no matter what the car’s brand.
You also have different search options, such as the license plate lookup feature, which allows you to review comprehensive details based on a car’s plate number, regardless of where it was manufactured or who previously owned it.
However, what makes VINCheckFree unique is that the platform boasts one of the fastest VIN search engines on the market, which means you can expect to receive results on any vehicle within seconds. And given that the service is entirely free, this allows you to conduct as many VIN searches as you need to!
Bumper is a web-based VIN finder that collects data from an extensive search database, which spans up to 22 state-level departments and other companies like towing agencies, salvage auctions, insurance companies, and even scrap yards, to provide in-depth background information on a vehicle.
And unlike its other competitors, Bumper’s data report covers a wider range of vehicle details, ranging from salvage and accident records to the most minute details like odometer mileage. You can also access useful metrics like the current market value, which is based on recent sales listings for similar vehicles in your area.
Bumper even generates cost-of-ownership estimates based on expected depreciation, maintenance, repair, fuel, and insurance costs. Plus, as an added benefit, unlike most other free VIN decoding tools, Bumper also comes with a convenient mobile app that is available on Android and iOS devices, thereby allowing users to conduct VIN identification no matter where they are.
VINNumberLookup is a leading provider of vehicle history reports that detail accurate specifications such as the steering type, transmission, odometer readings, manufacturing faults, damage, and even technical data, as well as information on the vehicle’s previous owners.
And since all their reports gather verified information from sources such as national administrations and central registers, any information that they generate will more often than not be highly reliable. The service is also fully accessible 24/7 and comes with a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for anyone to conduct a search.
Plus, all VIN lookups on the site remain private and 100% confidential, which means that you won’t have to worry about any of your searches being logged into their services either.
When it comes to overall user simplicity, AutoZone takes the top spot on this list, as this VIN checker is designed purely with the intention of providing its users with straightforward and timely vehicle history reports that are sourced from a consistently updated automotive record database.
This makes it a great option for those looking for a free VIN lookup tool that can help them conclude a vehicle purchase by providing them with basic but accurate information on the car’s mileage, collision history, and odometer readings.
So, while it may not have some of the comprehensive search tools that most other similar services in the market have, AutoZone can be a very useful way to expedite the decision-making process.
CARFAX has a stellar reputation for providing detailed reports to car buyers and used car shoppers. It has the most extensive car history database, with information sourced from over 100,000 distinct sources covering both US and Canadian motor vehicle authorities, resulting in access to over 20 billion records.
It is for this reason that the platform can facilitate cross-border searches that allow you to gather VIN details and find almost everything that you need to know about a particular vehicle. This makes it a useful resource for those looking to import used cars and wishing to reduce the risk of purchasing a vehicle with hidden problems.
However, what really makes CARFAX so unique compared to most other VIN lookup tools is the fact that the service also actively partners with a number of car dealerships spread out across multiple US states, which means that you can use the lookup service to find used cars to purchase.
EpicVIN is a reliable and free online platform that provides users with an efficient VIN lookup service and comes with an archive that contains 40 million vehicle records.
The reports generated typically provide useful information like the car title and model, type, and accident information, as well as other details like insurance total loss records, odometer information, and open lien status.
Most of this information is pulled from the NMVTIS database, which guarantees that the data has been verified and is entirely accurate. This also means that you can quickly confirm the history and status of your vehicle in a matter of minutes, enabling you to save a significant amount of time on your VIN searches.
This may explain why it is an especially popular choice among many car dealers and their clients, many of whom are looking to instantly verify the conditions of the vehicles they are either purchasing or selling.
AutoCheck is a unique lookup service that allows users to not only conduct VIN searches and gather information on a vehicle’s history, but also easily compare similar vehicles that they are looking to purchase so that they can choose the right one. The platform essentially allows users to conduct a side-by-side comparison of their features before assigning them a rank between 1 and 100.
The calculation is often based on the year of manufacture, lease, CO2 emissions, mileage, accident history, rental history, engine capacity, gray market values, and various other vehicle specifications. It is also worth noting that AutoCheck is owned by the credit card company Experian, which has relationships with notable industry leaders like CarMax, Edmunds.com, eBay Motors, and others.
This in turn means that the service has access to a large database, which is also why it is often used by industry experts to validate the review records for vehicles and is best suited for those looking to purchase or sell cars.
VINDecoderZ delivers a free, easy-to-use, simple-to-navigate VIN decoder service that partners with a variety of trustworthy auto dealers, insurance companies, federal organizations, and car manufacturers.
As a result, the search engine can generate basic information about a vehicle’s ownership, history, sales, accidents, and recalls, as well as other useful details like theft details, odometer status, safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and more.
The tool also provides you with details about the vehicle’s market value, sales history, and defects. And this database is extremely easy to use and user-friendly: all you need to do to get started is input the VIN and wait for the results.
FAXVIN offers a robust database that allows users to conduct easy VIN checks on used and new cars. The platform utilizes trustworthy sources to provide factual and accurate vehicle history reports that do a reasonable job of detailing useful information like vehicle ownership, manufacturing year, market value, model, body structure, and more.
Furthermore, navigating the site is pretty straightforward, as all you need to do is submit the VIN number, and you can access all the relevant information you need.
And while the reports aren’t as comprehensive as most other lookup services, the benefit is that even inexperienced users can quickly review the data without much difficulty. This makes it a convenient option for clarifying basic details about a vehicle before making a purchase or sale.
How to Find the Vehicle’s VIN Number?
In most cases, the VIN will be located on the interior of the driver’s dashboard. Alternatively, you can look for it under the hood, around the front of the engine block, or around the door pillar on the driver’s side. If the vehicle is an older model, the VIN can usually be found over the front end of the frame, just above the wheels.
On a motorcycle, the VIN will usually be imprinted under the handlebars on the steering neck. In some models, it may be located on a plate above the motor. If the vehicle is a semi-trailer, then you will find it located on the front left side of the vehicle. In the worst-case scenario, where you are unable to find it anywhere on the vehicle, check your car’s title or insurance documents.
How to Decode the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)?
Every VIN number comprises a 17-character code that is typically grouped by different indicators that act as the vehicle’s identifying code. However, this 17-digit code isn’t just a random series of characters.
The first three letters, also known as the WMI, or world manufacturer identifier, are used to identify the manufacturer of the vehicle. The first letter represents the country of origin; the second represents the vehicle brand; and the third describes the type and manufacturing division of the car.
The subsequent six digits of the VIN, also referred to as the Vehicle Description Section (VDS), usually describe the vehicle, with numbers 4–8 describing the vehicle’s model, type, body, transmission type, and engine number. The 9th number is used to prove that the VIN is not fake.
The 10th element will usually indicate the manufacturing year, while the 11th indicates the assembly plant where the vehicle was manufactured. Finally, the last six elements of the VIN normally contain the production order of the vehicle.
Why Lookup a VIN Online?
Since the VIN essentially allows you to access any vehicle’s history, this can often prove to be useful in a wide variety of situations.
For instance, if you are looking to purchase a used vehicle, running a vehicle VIN check can help you ensure that you aren’t purchasing a defective car by easily verifying whether the seller is being truthful about the condition of the vehicle.
This means reviewing specific details about the vehicle’s accident and maintenance history, past owner history, airbag deployment, product recalls, “lemon” status, current liens, etc.
Even people who have recently purchased new vehicles can carry out a VIN search to establish trust with prospective buyers should they ever decide to sell their car. It can also help to pinpoint where and when their vehicle was manufactured, which can be helpful if the car’s manufacturer committed malfeasance.
Using a VIN decoder can also prove valuable in times when you need to insure the vehicle, make claims for warranty service, or replace a car’s parts with the originals.
A VIN is usually assigned to a vehicle by the manufacturer, and it reveals a range of important details about the car, like the model year, country of origin, and even where it was assembled. This makes it a great reference point, especially if you intend to purchase a used vehicle and are looking to learn more about its history.
In this respect, if you are looking for an easy way to decode this number, make sure to conduct a free VIN number lookup online using one of the VIN decoder tools on this list, and a full report will be delivered to you within seconds. Comparatively, each one of these services comes with its own unique benefits, so make sure to take your time to review and pick the one that best suits your requirements.