FREE VIN Check: History Data You Can Get Free for Rebuilt and other Titles.
The information you can obtain with free VIN check for a rebuilt or any other vehicle includes:
- Current title status or brand check, including lemon status
- Present open recalls
- Damage data from auctions
Please note that if your don't get a vehicle history report which, whenever possible, covers all possible issues, you will have to look up each problem separately in different sources.
Often, free VIN check is not enough to make an informed buying decision. What a free VIN search won't give you, as opposed to full reports, is:
- Service records which are available is the report of major VIN history providers
- Mileage history
- Acidents records, unless the accident totaled a vehicle and as a results a salvage / junk record was put into the federal database. But even so, the accident info won't be accessible, like damage details, damage locatioin. You will only see the most general nature of the damag if it can be classified as Water / Flood, Collistion, Fire, etc. However, if the searcher is lucky, the vehicle ends up at an auction like COPART or IAAI where more detail can be found.
- Airbag deployment incidents
But it may be enough to reject an option and search for a new one, which is sufficient in many instances! Lets check every free option close-up.
1. Records number on CARFAX and Autocheck reports.
The number gives one an estimate of the probability of getting a problem title on a vehicle or problem records. A simple example: a 1 year-old vehicle manufactured in the US has a clean title and just 1 record on a CARFAX / Autocheck reports. That record should be a registration record for the current title with no other records. It is highly unlikely that you find something else within the history so you can move on directly to the next step - physical inspection by a mechanic. On the other hand, having a branded title (you may see it on the title itself, ask the seller to give your the copy) and just 1 CARFAX or Autocheck records means that the history is incomplte because a branded title is typically preceeded by a number of accident or some other records incidating the damage type or anything that resulting in total loss or branding, ownership transfer from a priver person to the insurance company, etc. Please note the disclaimers from VIN history providers stating that they do not warrant completeness and integrity of their data. There is a lot to be said about interpreting VIN reports, that an entire expert skill. You can find a detailed article here.
2. National Criminal Burueau Search
Please note that the search result only reports stolen vehicles that haven't been recovered. Those having a theft recovery title are often omitted from search result because recovered re-titled vehciles are legally driven vehicles. However, the brand indicating a problem in the history should remain on the title. In many states, it's just a Salvage brand whout any indication that it has been stolen.
The infromation about recall history is also conveniently included in normal vehicle history reports. Currently open recalls can also be looked up online by VIN at https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls for free. However, note that it only covers **currently open **recalls with unresolved issues, you won't see the information about past recalls if the issue has been resolved. For possible resolved issues you might need to search recall history by a specific make/model and find the PDF list of VINs subject to that particular recall, these lists are issued by manufactirers. Contrary to that, in a vehicle history report the recall record remains permanently, even if the issue is fixed. Such records point to the type of issue and also have the exactl recall # for a reference.
Salvage auctions like COPART or IAAI
Salvage auctions are the place where one can find a lot of information on how a salvage or rebuilt vehicle was before it was restored and what it actually looked like prior to being fixed and offered for sale. Some vehicles end up at salvage auctions not just once but even 2 or 3 times. Unfortunately, over time it's gotten more difficult to serach for the information by VIN directly on COPART and IAAI sites as it may require registration, payment or simply because the vehicles for which the bidding is over are no longer displayed in their search resutls. However, there are many sites out there that re-post COPART and IAAI data, even though it is closed on the major websites. Many request fee for the photos and the descriptions, some just for photos of higher resolution. Read here how to check damaged vehicles on COPART and IAAI without registration.