Free VIN Check Trick, Free Vehicle History Report

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AutoCheck and CarFax are popular ways to check on a used vehicle’s history before buying or selling. They aren’t always 100% accurate, but can still be a useful tool and possibly worth the $30+ retail price. But AutoCheck also lets car dealers check show free basic VIN checks to show their customers, and people (not me) figured out you can piggyback on this feature rather easily.

(Update 7/22: You can still try using the instructions below, but it appears that Autocheck has closed this loophole. You can still get a basic free VIN check at that will show you the year, make, model, style and country of assembly for any VIN. It’ll also show you how many vehicle history records there are for this vehicle, but in order to see the details you’ll have to pay for the full report.)

To perform a another basic check of whether a specific car VIN has been reported stolen or has a salvage title, use this free VINcheck tool. Together, these would provide a good initial check to any potential Craiglist used car purchases. If you wish to proceed, it may be worth it to go ahead and purchase a report.

Finally, there is also a more affordable option called that sells their vehicle history report for only $12.99. They also include title registration records, junk/salvage records, insurance records, and odometer history. Data is from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). States, insurance carriers, and salvage yards are required by federal law to report data to NMVTIS. Their sample report looks pretty much the same as the other guys, but Compare with $39.99 for CarFax and $29.99 for AutoCheck.

Here are the adapted instructions to get a free VIN check:

  1. Go to, and run a search for “dealer autocheck inurl:vin
  2. Click on the first result that is not an ad. (Also ignore other car forums that are talking about this trick.)
  3. Look at the URL toolbar. It will look something like:

    Replace LONG_VIN_NUMBER with your own car or motorcycle VIN, something like:

    (No spaces. Again this URL is only an example.)

  4. Hit Enter, or copy/paste the new address into a new window and hit Enter. If it doesn’t work, use the next dealer website URL that comes up.


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  1. Nice find! worked for me too.

  2. Neat, but is this stealing auto checks from the auto dealers?

  3. @foo – I wouldn’t call it stealing as the auto dealer doesn’t pay anything extra for the queries that you run. Would it potentially decrease the revenue for Autocheck by savings some people money who would otherwise want this information? Yes. In addition, I think it fulfills some curiosity from people like me who wouldn’t check otherwise but are interested in knowing what’s on the report.

  4. oh foo….there will always be you

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a great find and will definitely use it when checking out cars that don’t have free carfax/etc. Was just wondering if maybe the dealers have a monthly check limit and if we would be hurting them somehow.


  6. Thanks for this! I was looking to purchase a particular car which showed no reported accidents on the Car Fax but had one on the Auto Check report. I believe that 20/20 did a story some time last month that mentioned that you cannot only depend on the Car Fax.

  7. Not sure why those of you are getting on Foos back… this IS STEALING. If you are OK with it, then fine, but at least understand and be honest with what you are doing.

    Downloading MP3s you do not own is stealing and downloading compiled information that you do not own or did not do the work to compile is stealing also.

    If you were a small startup business where you did the legwork or programming work to make a valuable product (be it a digital product), and others started downloading it off your server without paying, you would be upset for them stealing your product. They may say you are not harmed, they were not going to buy it off you anyway, your cost for bandwidth is minimal, but, the truth remains that in this case you are taking something that is not yours to take. You are stealing.

    • OMG! Aren’t you the most self righteous person on the internet?
      You think all these companies stealing information about your vehicle is okay with you?
      You think all the utility, cable, banks selling off info on you including email addressees are not stealing from you? ADT called me 3 times the same day I moved into my new home. I was so angry. I asked where they got my new number from and she said without hesitation…. AT&T! AT&T denied it when I called them. RIGHT!

  8. Thanks for the trick. I looked up my vehicle and was surprised to see my major accident which it went to a body shop for a week and the police where present didn’t show up. My transmission replacement showed up as transmission service! Make me wonder.

  9. Doesn’t work anymore as of about a week ago

  10. any other ways around this since the block?

  11. Richard Granger says

    I see that you have crossed out the information where can I get a free vin check for damages or salvage on a vehicle

  12. Yes, as of 7/22 the crossed-out instructions no longer work. When posted on 6/12, it worked. I have added other information as alternative money-saving solutions.

    • Loretta McCarthy says

      Where do I get more information about my 2006 Ford Freestyle SEL. One dealership pulled up a Carmax report I had NEVER seen, and that Friendly Ford, Crosby, Texas, never showed me.
      So far, nothing major has shown up.

      • TJ Hession says

        Never ever purchase a used vehicle without
        1) Having and retaining a copy of the sales advertisement from all web pages and periodicals
        2) Having a copy of the VIN history

        The sales advertisement is a legal document, purchasing a vehicle “As Is” includes the claims made by the dealer in advertisement, in most states. In all states in the United States, its considered deceptive advertising to make claims about a product which the seller is obviously aware are false. The law reads “if you know or have reason to know” …. a dealer would have reason to know the mechanical condition of a vehicle.

        Used Vehicle dealers are in the business of moving depreciating assets (used cars), they don’t want anything to sit over 30 days (the smaller the more squeezed by inventory costs they become). Knowing this is an advantage to prospective purchasers.

  13. Hi I am a long time follower of your blog but first time commenter. I just wanted to thank you for this information, since I am currently in the market for a used vehicle. I’ve found it very useful!

    I also wanted to let others know that Carfax has the option for 5 reports for $49.99 and unlimited for $54.99 (i assume for 30 days) and AutoCheck has the unlimited option (30 days) for $44.99. I am currently considering signing up for AutoCheck’s unlimited option.

    • TJ Hession says

      Its important to remember that Carfax and AutoCheck are providing information from the NMVTIS (just like many others do)
      There are less expensive ways to acquire the identical data
      All states, insurance companies, and junk and salvage yards are required by law to report information to NMVTIS, however this reporting does not occur in all cases. Therefore reliance upon these reports is limited, especially when it refers to the most recent data. Most states do not require vehicle mileage be provided upon annual renewal of tags and there is no requirement that mechanics or shops report repairs and mileage to the NMVTIS. So take the VIN history reports with a grain of salt.

      Here is the NMVTIS site where there are other options for vehicle VIN reports

  14. @ Jonathan Ping
    Depending on how the dealership is set up, it can and will charge them more for people pulling a report as such. Don’t be cheap, just use the actual consumer side of things and research the cars for yourself while not screwing over people in the process.

  15. Thanks man its still working with some dealers page i just check a mazda that i want to buy

  16. Still works as of this morning but it’s much trickier now as the VIN is partially encrypted.

  17. If you look around you can find examples that still work:

    I suggest reading through some car forums and looking for recent postings that people have reported:!/page8

  18. Troy Campbell says

    You can get free vehicle history listing reports at You would want to see this report first as it shows how long a car has been for sale and any price changes. I found a car at a dealership they had priced for $4,300 less 3 weeks earlier and had raised the price. They also had had the car for a year but were telling me they only had it ten days. Now you can know how long the car has been on the market and all price changes.

  19. Yep, worked, 3/2015

  20. Worked 9/2015

  21. TJ Hession says

    Experian has closed the door on backdoor access to their web site, so these links no longer work as of Jan 2016

    Search using Auto trader or Carfax will in many cases (depending upon the dealer) provide VIN reports for prospective vehicles the dealer is offering for sale. This service is usually not offered by the fly by night dealers.

    The truth is dealers don’t want this information in the hands of the public, because it makes their job of selling auction vehicles more difficult. Very few used vehicle dealers purchase personal vehicles for resale, there selections come from one of Five places in most every single case. I am describing Used vehicle sales here not new Vehicle sales.

    1) Vehicles traded in to new Vehicle dealerships which the new dealership is not interested in offering in their inventory (bottom of the barrel toss aways, that will always have something wrong with them mechanically or have body damage)

    2) Government vehicle auctions (usually vehicles with no optional equipment, but also include abandoned vehicles and vehicles from impound – its a very mixed basket)

    3) Repo Auctions (mostly bottom of the barrel stuff which has not been maintained, basically junk)

    4) Off Lease Auctions (more expensive and later model vehicles, usually with some type of minor cosmetic damage)

    5) Local public vehicle auctions (most of the vehicles sold from these auctions are ones the vehicle owner no longer wants because they have some serious mechanical or electrical issue)

    Purchasing used vehicles is not for the faint of heart, neither is it for those without good mechanical knowledge.

    If you as a vehicle owner don’t intend to work on your own vehicle, then stay away from used vehicles which have exceeded the manufacturers, transferable warranty. There is nothing worse than thinking you got the best deal on a used car only to discover later that it needs major engine, transmission or electrical repair. Major engine or transmission repair usually costs several thousand dollars for non-exotic, domestic vehicles and tens of thousands of dollars for exotic and non-domestic vehicles.

    Knowing how and what to purchase is key to a successful used vehicle purchase.
    Understanding the current Vehicle market and vehicles is also key to a successful used vehicle purchase
    I have seen seasoned mechanics and dealers buy an albatross simply because they did not follow my formula for used car purchases.
    The costs associated with purchasing an albatross can be staggering to even the most wealthy of individuals and it can be financially devastating to lower income folks, especially families.

    Anyone who does not understand that a vehicle is a depreciating asset, further who do not understand how that effects the risk and gamble of dealers, is automatically at a loss. I have worked with CEO’s and and high end corporate Management who have made very very costly mistakes from purchasing used vehicles. There is a formula for successfully purchasing used vehicles, I have used it several times in the past.

    Look at the list of auctions that I laid out above, which indicates the source of 90+ percent of all Used car dealers vehicles. What is the financial risk (the gamble financially) that you personally have the formula for being successful in that Vehicle Auction game?

    Vehicle History reports are only a bit of the formula, what about the remainder?

  22. clearly the folks providing the report services want to make as much money off the general public as possible. So they hunt down and shut all loopholes. They provide to dealers for free in order to make their product seem mainstream. Carfax is a con-plete crock, I had an Element ( (bought new for $18K) that had $12,000 repair 1 year later in a t-bone accident (w/ full airbag deployment) involving an under-insured driver . The accident did not show up on their reports.

    As a free service these reports are worth evaluation, but they are certainly not worth any $$$

  23. Free vin check at Vinaudit. If you have a business account, you’ll have access to $1 per full NMVTIS report.

  24. John Smith says

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