As a certified mechanic with over 20 years of experience, I know just how important it is to thoroughly check a vehicle’s history before buying a used car here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Skipping the VIN check is an open invitation for major headaches down the road.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about decoding VIN numbers and using free and paid VIN reports to uncover the complete history of any used vehicle for sale in Minnesota. By understanding how to locate the VIN, decipher the digits, and access accident reports, title brands, maintenance records and more, you can avoid buying a lemon and make an informed, smart purchase.
No more wasted time or money on vehicles with shady pasts – let’s dive in and make your next Minnesota used car purchase a smooth one!
What is a VIN and Why is it Important?
VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. It is a unique 17-digit unique code made up of numbers and letters assigned to every car, motorcycle, truck, and trailer made and sold in the United States.
The VIN is incredibly important – it can be thought of as the vehicle’s fingerprint. This number contains vital information about the car like its manufacturer, make model year, engine size, and more. It also provides access to the vehicle’s complete history including any accidents, thefts, title changes, recalls and more.
Having the VIN is crucial for identifying stolen vehicles, registering a car properly and learning about any issues or defects with the particular vehicle. For used car buyers, running a VIN check is the only way to get the full history of the vehicle in Minnesota, including everything the vehicle has been through. Without a VIN number, it is impossible to conduct a VIN lookup but it can still be possible to enter the license plate number into a checker.
Where To Find VIN Number?
You can find the VIN in several locations on the vehicle:
- On the driver’s side dashboard (visible through the windshield)
- Inside the driver’s side door jamb
- On the front of the engine block
- On the vehicle title, registration card, and insurance documents
If you’re struggling to locate the VIN, refer to the owner’s manual. VIN labels in cars are usually found on the lower-left corner of the dashboard. For motorcycles, check the right side of the steering neck or the motor near the bottom of the cylinders. Note: every vehicle has a VIN associated with it, if you cannot find one or the seller refuses to provide one then it is best to air on the side of caution and not proceed further with a purchase.
How to Decode a VIN
While a VIN may look like a random mix of letters and numbers, each character actually encodes specific information about the vehicle.
Here’s how to decode a VIN:
- The first character indicates the country of origin. “1”, “4”, and “5” designate the United States.
- Characters 2-3 reveal the manufacturer. Each automaker is assigned a World Manufacturer Identifier code.
- Character 4 shows the vehicle type or characteristics. For example, “P” indicates a passenger car.
- Characters 5-8 are the vehicle descriptor section, describing things like engine type, body style, and model.
- The 10th digit reveals the model year. “A” is 2010, “B” is 2011, “C” is 2012, and so on.
- Characters 12-17 are the production sequence numbers.
So by decoding the various characters, you can learn a lot about the vehicle simply from the VIN!
Why Run a Minnesota VIN Check?
Running a Minnesota vin number check allows you to uncover the complete history of a used vehicle with a comprehensive report before purchase. Here are some key reasons every buyer in Minnesota should verify the VIN:
Check for Accidents
In 2020, there were over 57,127 reported crashes in Minnesota. A VIN check can reveal accident history, helping you avoid potentially dangerous vehicles. The damage history of a car can be covered with a great detailing job but if you look up a VIN number online you can find everything about a car including its sales history.
Check for Thefts
There were 13,662 vehicles reported stolen in Minnesota in 2020. VIN checks can uncover salvage, junk or theft records. With a paid VIN report you will uncover hidden details including vehicle theft.
Check Title Brands
Title brands like salvage, rebuilt, or flood-damaged can seriously impact value and safety. A VIN search lets you check for title brands and reveals title status, including the current owner of the car.
Confirm the seller actually owns the vehicle and check past owners, including ownership history throughout the years. This can help identify odometer rollbacks or other fraud.
Review Maintenance History
A VIN report provides maintenance records, emissions tests, and recall status. This helps gauge how well the vehicle was cared for.
Check Specs & Safety Ratings
Use the VIN to look up vehicle specifications, compare safety ratings across models and confirm options installed.
Running a thorough Minnesota VIN check gives you peace of mind that you’re making a wise investment before handing over your hard-earned cash.
How to Check a VIN Number in Minnesota
There are two easy ways to perform a VIN lookup in Minnesota:
Use Our Free VIN Check Tool
Mechanic Answer provides a free VIN decoder, simply enter your 17 digit VIN number to try, please bear in mind the information retrieved is limited and will not give a full overview of a motor vehicle’s full history. A small paid fee is needed to unlock the history of the vehicle, a small fee is an amazing deal when it can save thousands.
Try Mechanic Answer to Perform a VIN Check in Minnesota
Our top-rated vin lookup service offers full vehicle history reports with comprehensive details. They provide total transparency, so you can make an informed decision.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety also provides title history and record checks for a small fee. However, third-party VIN lookup services like ours offer more robust reports with detailed data from across the country.
Why We Are the Best VIN Lookup Service
Here at Mechanic Answer, we proudly offer the most thorough and user-friendly VIN check service. Our fully customizable reports draw from over 6 billion records across thousands of data sources. This includes government agencies, auto auctions, insurers, and more.
We display VIN lookup results in an easy-to-understand format. We also offers unlimited VIN checks and support from our award-winning customer service team. Our commitment to transparency and accuracy is unmatched. That’s why we’re trusted by dealerships and individual buyers alike as the premier VIN lookup service.
VIN Lookup by License Plate
In Minnesota, license plates are linked to the vehicle’s VIN in state records. So you can perform a VIN search using the license plate number instead.
Simply use a license plate lookup tool like Bumper and enter the plate number. This taps into the same databases, returning the vehicle history report associated with that VIN. It’s an easy shortcut for accessing the same essential information but is more expensive than our service. The Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles keeps a record of all license plate numbers and car owners in the state.
What’s in a VIN Check Report?
A VIN lookup report reveals both the vehicle’s technical specifications and full history. Here are some of the most valuable data points uncovered:
- Number of previous owners
- Odometer readings for each owner
- Location history where the vehicle was registered or driven
- Accident and damage records, including severity and repairs
- Title brands like salvage, rebuilt or flood brands
- Theft and lien records
- Registration renewals and lapses
- Safety recalls and service bulletins
- Technical specifications like engine type, transmission, options
- Safety ratings, crash test results and rollover risk
- Estimated market value and MSRP when new
- Warranty and maintenance history at dealerships
Reputable VIN check services like Vincheckup source data from government records, law enforcement databases, and more to build a complete vehicle biography. This empowers used car buyers to verify what they’re told and make a wise purchase decision.
Other Resources for Minnesota Drivers
The Minnesota DMV is a key resource for vehicle owners, providing services like:
- Vehicle registration and titling
- Driver’s license issuance and renewal
- Driving records and history
- License plate lookup
- Vehicle inspections
The DMV website also contains information on traffic laws, license requirements, road safety and more. Given Minnesota’s cold winters, it’s important to equip your car appropriately with snow tires during winter months.
Before buying any used vehicle, it’s strongly recommended to lookup car by VIN. Our Minnesota VIN check will provide critical information and records. This guide provided an overview of VIN numbers in Minnesota – including how to decode them and why VIN checks are so valuable. Be sure to verify the history and run a VIN search prior to your next used car purchase! We also provide online VIN lookups for all other US states.
Minnesota VIN Check Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I look up a car by VIN in Minnesota?
You can perform a free VIN search directly on the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) website to access title information, brand history, ownership records, and odometer readings for any car registered in MN. For a more comprehensive vehicle history report, consider using Mechanic Answer which provides full details on accident history, maintenance records, liens, fleet use, and more.
Can I check VIN for free?
While basic VIN checks are available for free through resources like the National Insurance Crime Bureau, these only provide limited information. For full vehicle history reports similar to Carfax, your best option is to use paid services like Mechanic Answer which offer unlimited reports for one low price. The detailed reports from Mechanic Answer deliver peace of mind when buying a used car.
How do I find out who owns a vehicle in MN?
You can request ownership records from the Minnesota DVS by phone or by filing form PS2000, available on their website. There is typically a small administrative fee. Alternatively, services like Mechanic Answer provide detailed vehicle history reports which include current and previous owners of a car, saving you time and effort.
How do I look up a car title in MN?
Ordering a title search through the MN DVS website and forms will provide title details like owners, liens, brands etc. However, a vehicle history report from Mechanic Answer also includes comprehensive title information along with maintenance records, accident history, vehicle use, odometer verification and more to get a complete overview before purchasing a car.
Is there an alternative to Carfax?
While Carfax is well known, excellent alternatives for complete vehicle history reports exist. Top choices besides Carfax include AutoCheck, NMVTIS, local dealer reports and Mechanic Answer which offers unlimited reports for one low price, making them a great value for peace of mind when buying any used car.