Buying a used car or even inheriting a used car can come with a lot of unknowns. How do you know what options the car was built with or its general life history? We've taken a look into how to find out what options your car was ordered with and found the answer for you.
The best way to find out information on a vehicle is through the VIN number. The Vehicle Identification Number will be able to tell you body style, engine type, model, place of production, and service history. By using online search engines, you'll be able to search the VIN for free or for a fee.
Knowing the history of your car will give you peace of mind while shopping around. In general, VIN reports will pull all available data reported by established maintenance shops on what was done while the vehicle was there. Keep reading to find out what your car's VIN can do for you.
Where Can I Find a VIN Report?
VIN reports can be found in a few different spots. The first and most well-known is Carfax.com. From this site, you'll be able to pull a free basic VIN history report. However, if you're looking for more in-depth insight, you'll be paying anywhere between $40 and $60 for it. Of course, since Carfax sells vehicles, when you're in business with them, they'll you a full report with the contract.
The next site is Autocheck.com. On Autocheck, you'll enter the VIN, pick which type of report you'd like, whether it be basic or complete, and go from there. Basic reports are free, but you will need to make an account with them. Complete reports range from $30 to $50 and also require a subscription.
The third is Vincheckup.com. A competitive site to the two above, Vincheckup gives you options for how many reports you'd like to run. Just one report will cost around $15, but they also have package deals such as five reports for $40. This too, will ask you to sign up for a subscription, and then reports are sent to your email for safekeeping.
Can A VIN Number Tell You What Options Your Vehicle Has?
The VIN number of your car is its own serial code. The 17 digit VIN will be able to tell you: make, model, year, manufacturer, and engine information. To find your VIN, look on the driver's side window or door jam. There should be a sticker on the door or engraved into the bottom of the dashboard. If you're unable to find it, it will also be on your insurance card and title.
You'll be able to see in what country your vehicle was made and the plant number it came from. As long as the vehicle has been brought to established shops, you'll be able to pull your car's service history as well. Vehicles made after 1980 will have a 17 digit code while cars produced before this will have a shorter number.
Service departments will be able to give you a breakdown of the vehicle mechanisms as well. They'll be able to tell you the engine and cylinder type, as well as using the VIN to order parts that are made for your vehicle.
How To Read Your VIN
VINs are able to be decoded; however, you'll typically only use the fourth through eighth letters and numbers to find out the vehicle options. The first number is the country of origin, the next two are the manufacturer and division. Then fourth through eighth, tell you the vehicle description, followed by the one character security code. The next single character is the model year, followed by one letter for the plant identification number. Finally, the last six numbers are the vehicle serial number.
It is important to know the history of a vehicle to avoid getting ripped off. Going into a car deal blind could end up costing you a lot of money down the line. Instead, pull a report first, even a free basic one to prepare yourself. If something doesn't seem right with the vehicle, you might have to shell out the extra fees.
How Can You Find The Purchase History Of A Car?
When you're buying a used vehicle from a dealership, they'll typically give you a report of how many other people owned the car you're interested in. There's no harm in doing your own reach, though. By using the VIN of the vehicle, you'll be able to use the sites listed above to run a report. You may need to run multiple reports if it's an older vehicle and seems to have been owned by multiple people.
Once you receive the reports, you'll be able to see all and any insurance claims on the car as well. That means any accidents or reports of theft can be used to your advantage when negotiating a price. You'll also benefit from being able to see the title history of the car from previous drivers. Those reports will bring up any liens or flags on the title.
Other options to add to these history pulls are theft, major bodywork from total loss claims, and price predictions. Price predictions give you an estimated cost based on service and purchase history. Big-name dealerships tend to send total loss vehicles to auction and won't sell them, but there could be a few that slip through. Checking the VIN for the purchase history before getting too deep can save you from surprises in the end.
How Can You Check Your Car's Service History?
There are two ways to find out your car's service history. The first being online reports, and the second being the car manufacturer or dealership. Online reporting will cost you money upfront, while a phone call to the dealership can help steer you in the right direction.
The reports found online are able to tell you any service work done at established shops. That means if the owner before you paid out of pocket or had a friend do service, there will be no record. Insurance claims are always reported and attached to the VIN. Insurance claims can be anything from damages to injury to police reports.
On the other hand, you can call a dealership or the manufacturer directly. Either place will be able to tell you the stored service history. A big plus is that the manufacturer can tell you if there are any warranties left on the vehicle, as well as any recalls. Your dealership should be able to tell you what services have been completed and when. Always take it with a grain of salt though, since some bookkeeping could be out of order.
Knowing where your VIN is and how to read it will arm you with a wealth of knowledge. The VIN is able to tell you what options the vehicle has, as well as where it was produced. The 17 digits VIN found on the driver's side will provide the purchase and service history of the vehicle. To know more, you can call a dealership with the VIN, pull an online report, or call the manufacturer.
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