Purchasing a used vehicle is one of the best ways to get transportation at an affordable price. Buying used has many benefits, and more people are turning to the used vehicle market because of these benefits. VINsmart will help you determine how to check if a car was stolen.
However, the huge demand for used vehicles has also increased the number of stolen cars that are being resold in the private market. Knowing how to tell if a car is stolen before purchasing will help you avoid a serious mistake.
What Is The Vehicle Identification Number
Every vehicle has an individual vehicle identification number or VIN, a unique 17-digit code that provides specific information about the vehicle. Most vehicles have the VIN posted on the vehicle in several places so that you will know if the number has been altered or removed.
Where To Look For The Vehicle’s VIN
You will find the VIN in several places on your vehicle, including:
- The windshield. Near the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side you will find the VIN engraved in the glass or on a metallic plate.
- On your dashboard
- On a sticker on the driver’s side door
- On the spare tire
- Somewhere on the engine block or the frame for the radiator
- On the official documents for the vehicle
Some manufacturers will also place the VIN number on the vehicle’s undercarriage in a random spot only known by the manufacturer.
All of the VINs should match on a vehicle. If these numbers do not match, you potentially have a stolen vehicle.
How to Check Stolen Cars With VIN Number
How to check if the car was stolen is simple if you do the following:
- Acquire a vehicle history report using the VIN. This history report will indicate if the vehicle is considered a stolen vehicle or if it has been considered stolen in the past and now has a salvage title.
- Conduct a title search. You can go to your local motor vehicles office and conduct a title search on the vehicle. However, this can be time-consuming and expensive. You can get the same information from your vehicle history report.
It is worthwhile to know how to check for stolen car parts on a vehicle you may wish to purchase.
It may be difficult to find original parts for older vehicles when the vehicles are being restored. Sadly, some hard-to-find parts are stolen and sold to unsuspecting mechanics.
It may not be unusual to find different VINs on a restored vehicle, especially if you know it has been restored. But you can look up stolen car parts using their VIN just like a regular vehicle. The VIN history report for that number will give you an idea what happened to the original car and may help you determine whether the parts are valid.
What If You Mistakenly Purchased A Stolen Vehicle?
If you find out later that you have purchased a vehicle that is considered stolen, you must take action as soon as you know this information. Gather all the information you have, including recipes from when you purchased the vehicle, and take the vehicle to your local police department. You will need to file a report.
If you do not make a police report, and you are pulled over later and it is discovered the vehicle is stolen, you could face criminal charges and hefty fines for driving a stolen vehicle.
More Than A Stolen Vehicle Search By VIN
When you get a VIN history report on a used vehicle, you are getting much more than information about whether the vehicle is considered stolen, or was stolen in the past. These reports contain essential information about the vehicle from when it was manufactured.
A VIN history report will give you the following information:
- How many people have owned the vehicle, and where the vehicle has been owned. This is essential information. If the vehicle has many owners, this may be a sign that it has problems. Knowing where a vehicle has been registered before can also be helpful. For instance, if the report states that the vehicle was last registered in an area you know recently experienced a natural disaster, the vehicle may have flood or storm damage.
- Insurance claims. If the car has been damaged in an accident, stolen, or totaled, it will be recorded by the insurance company covering the event.
- If the title is tainted. Salvage titles mean that the vehicle was previously considered totaled. Many insurance companies will not insure a vehicle with a salvage title.
- Recall notices and repairs. If there are recalls, and if they have been corrected will be listed on the report.
VIN history reports give you information you need to make an informed decision about your purchase.
When Purchasing a Vehicle
Always remember to run a VINsmart report on any used vehicle before making a purchase. A VINsmart report runs a complete history on the vehicle including whether it has ever been reported as stolen, involved in a major accident, or listed as a totaled vehicle.
VINsmart reports will also give you a registration history and mileage at registration. It reports any significant incidents related to the vehicle, such as being involved in a fire or flood.
When you are purchasing a used vehicle, the best way to ensure you make a good purchase is to know the vehicle’s complete history.