How to Check Vehicle History for Free

Three Methods:Generating a Free Vehicle History ReportRequesting that the Dealership Runs the Vehicle History ReportGenerating a Free Fraud Check

In order to receive a complete vehicle history report (VHR), you must pay for the service and the document. While free VHR services do exist, they only provide you with general information about a car’s make and model. Instead of purchasing the complete VHR yourself, ask the dealership or previous owner to pay for the service. When purchasing a used car, always run a free fraud check on the vehicle!

Method 1
Generating a Free Vehicle History Report

  1. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 1
    Find your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can find your car’s VIN in several places. In addition to appearing in the manual and on several important documents, the VIN is also printed on a sticker and adhered to various parts of the car. Check the door jamb on the driver’s side, the front of the engine block, underneath the spare tire, and the rear wheel well.[1]
  2. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 2
    Select a service. A number of online services offer free basic VHRs. If you intend to eventually purchase a VHR, run your free report with a trusted and reputable service, such AutoCheck. This will allow you to assess the company and become familiar with the site’s interface before purchasing a complete VHR.[2]
    • Several dealership’s will list a used car with a link to a free CARFAX VHR report. You may also search for used cars on CARFAX’s website. Each listing comes with a free CARFAX VHR.[3]
  3. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 3
    Enter the required information and run the report. When running a free VHR, you will need to enter the VIN. You may also need to provide a zip code, license plate number, or the state in which the car is registered. After providing all of the requested information and accepting any terms and conditions, click “Submit” or “Run.” The site will automatically load your free VHR.[4]
    • A complete VHR will separate information into the following sections: vehicle history and report summary, value calculator, ownership history, title history, additional history, and detailed history. A free report will contain components of each section, but the information will not include as many details. Since the free VHR is vague, it may also be harder to interpret.[5]

Method 2
Requesting that the Dealership Runs the Vehicle History Report

  1. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 4
    Demonstrate your interest in a car. Before requesting that the dealership or previous owner pay for a VHR, demonstrate that you are a serious buyer. Devote your attention to 1 car instead of several cars on the lot. Talk to the salesperson about the vehicle and your financing options. Take the car for a test drive. Have the car looked over by a trusted mechanic.[6]
  2. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 5
    Request that the dealership pay for the VHR. Dealerships often subscribe to a VHR service. This allows them to economically run VHRs on their inventory. After demonstrating your interest in a vehicle, express your interest in the car to the salesperson and indicate that you have a few reservations. Indicate that the dealership’s willingness to pay for the VHR would ease your remaining concerns about making the major purchase.[7]
    • When talking to the salesperson, you could say: “I really love this car but I have a few reservations. My last car was in the shop all of the time and I want to make sure this vehicle doesn’t have a long history of repairs. In order to commit to the car, I need to see a detailed vehicle history report. This would really ease my concerns. Would you be willing to provide me with one?”
    • Wait until you are close to purchasing the car to request a VHR. A dealer is unlikely to run these reports on a number of vehicles.
  3. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 6
    Assess the dealership’s response. If the salesperson willingly runs the VHR for you, thank the salesperson! If the salesperson refuses to run the VHR or hands you an outdated VHR, proceed with caution. These red flags indicate that the dealership is hiding something about the car’s history. Walk away from the sale or pay for a complete VHR.[8]

Method 3
Generating a Free Fraud Check

  1. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 7
    Search for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. To avoid purchasing a stolen vehicle, always run the VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database! Enter “National Insurance Crime Bureau” into the search bar of your internet browser. Click on the first result. You will be taken the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s home page.[9]
  2. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 8
    Navigate to the “VIN Check” page. Locate the “Theft and Fraud Awareness” tab on the top navigation bar. When you hover your cursor over the the tab, a drop-down menu will appear. Move your cursor to the “VIN Check” tab. After clicking on the tab, you will be brought to the VIN Check Page.[10]
  3. Image titled Check Vehicle History for Free Step 9
    Enter the required information. Type in the VIN number. Verify the terms of service and enter a captcha code. Click "Submit." View any history of car theft or other police reports related to the car.[11]
    • VinCheck keeps 5 years of history that will help prevent fraudulent vehicle transfer.
    • You are allowed 5 searches from the same IP address.


  • If you are buying a used car, it is highly recommended that you buy a vehicle history report. Conducting the report yourself will reduce the chance that it is tampered with.

Article Info

Categories: Used Cars | Cars