With over 20 years under the hood as an auto mechanic, I know firsthand how important it is to thoroughly research a vehicle’s history before purchase.
Hi, my I’m Robby, and in this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through exactly how to decode and perform a Montana VIN Search to reveal critical details on specs, titles, accidents, recalls, and more. You’ll learn where to find the VIN, how to run free and paid VIN checks, and what to look for in a vehicle history report. Arm yourself with this insider knowledge so your next used car purchase in Montana is a smooth ride, not a bumpy lemon.
The rest of this guide has all the nuts and bolts to make sure your pre-owned vehicle is road-ready. Let’s pop the hood and dive in!
What is a VIN?
A VIN is a unique 17-character code assigned to every vehicle for identification and registration purposes. Montana law, specifically Title 61, Chapter 8 of the Montana Code Annotated, establishes VIN requirements and how VINs are used for titling, registering, and transferring vehicle ownership in the state.
VINs serve several key functions in Montana:
- Vehicle Identification: The VIN uniquely identifies each vehicle for tracking history and ownership.
- Registration and Titling: The VIN is required for registering and titling a vehicle in Montana.
- Theft Prevention: VINs help identify stolen vehicles and aid in recovery.
- Safety Recalls: Manufacturers use VINs to identify vehicles affected by recalls.
- Maintenance Tracking: VINs allow mechanics to access repair history.
Where is the VIN Located?
VINs are engraved in several locations on the vehicle, including:
- Bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side
- Vehicle registration and title paperwork
- Inside the driver’s side door jamb
- Front of the engine block, visible through the wheel well
What a VIN Report Shows
A VIN report provides a comprehensive vehicle history summary, including:
- Title information – brands, ownership records, liens
- Accident history – any reported collisions
- Odometer readings – verifying accurate mileage
- Maintenance records – repairs, oil changes, services
- Open recalls – any outstanding safety issues
- Vehicle specifications – engine, model, year, etc
The report contains valuable details to make an informed used car purchase.
Free vs Paid VIN Reports
Free VIN checks through NHTSA offer basic specs and recall data, but paid services like Mechanic Answer provide much more robust reports. For a small fee, paid reports can include:
- Comprehensive accident history
- Odometer verification
- Title problem checks
- Ownership records
- Market value analysis
So free vehicle history reports offer a simple snapshot of basic information, while paid VIN reports deliver much deeper insights into the vehicle history to avoid buying a lemon.
How to Decode a Montana VIN
Montana VINs follow a standard format established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1981. Here is how to decode a VIN character by character:
- Characters 1-3 – World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI): Indicates where the vehicle was built and manufacturer.
- Characters 4-8 – Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS): Specifies vehicle attributes like model, body style, and engine type.
- Character 9 – Check Digit: Validates the other VIN characters mathematically.
- Characters 10-17 – Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS): Identifies model year, manufacturing plant, and production sequence.
Checking a Montana VIN can reveal valuable information about the vehicle’s history and specifications.
Benefits of a Montana VIN Check
Conducting a VIN lookup in Montana provides many benefits for used car buyers, including:
- Identify any title issues – Are there any liens, salvage records or odometer discrepancies?
- Check accident history – Has the vehicle been in any reported crashes?
- Confirm owner history – How many owners has the car had?
- Review maintenance records – Were scheduled services performed?
- Check for outstanding recalls – Does the vehicle have any open safety recalls?
- Verify vehicle specs – Is the engine size, model year, etc. accurate?
- Determine fair market value – Does the selling price align with the vehicle history?
These insights help buyers avoid purchasing an unsafe or overpriced used vehicle in Montana.
How to Check a VIN in Montana
There are several ways to lookup a VIN and obtain a vehicle history report in Montana:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – The NHTSA offers free online VIN decoding to check for recalls, specifications and basic history.
Montana Motor Vehicle Division – The MVD offers VIN checks for $3 per search to verify Montana registration and title details.
Third-Party VIN Lookup Websites – Many websites like Mechanic Answer, CARFAX and AutoCheck provide paid reports with comprehensive vehicle history details.
Regardless of which VIN check option you choose, be sure to verify that the VIN on the vehicle matches the VIN on the report. Cross-checking the VIN in multiple locations on the car and documentation ensures accuracy.
What to Look for in a Montana VIN Report
Quality VIN reports will provide detailed information on a used vehicle’s history, including:
- Title Brands – Any salvage, rebuilt, junk, or other branded title statuses.
- Odometer Readings – Mileage history and any inconsistencies or rollbacks.
- Ownership History – Previous owners and locations.
- Accident History – Details on any reported collisions.
- Maintenance Records – Repair and service history from licensed shops.
- Total Loss History – Any instances when the vehicle was deemed a total loss.
- Recall Status – Any open manufacturer safety recalls requiring fix.
- Vehicle Specs – Manufacturer, make, model, year, engine, etc.
- Price Valuation – Fair market value based on vehicle history.
With this data, Montana used car shoppers can make well-informed decisions and avoid buying unsafe, illegally modified or overpriced vehicles.
Why We’re the Best VIN Lookup Service
Mechanic Answer provides fast, reliable, and affordably priced VIN reports to empower used car buyers. With data from leading industry sources, Mechanic Answer delivers vehicle history and title information you can trust. We are committed to total transparency by laying out all the history clearly in an easy-to-understand format.
Our team is dedicated to customer satisfaction and will answer any questions on your report. With user-friendly tools, mobile access, and the most current data available, Mechanic Answer takes the risk and uncertainty out of buying a used vehicle. Check for yourself and see why we are the top choice for VIN checks!
In summary, every used car buyer in Montana should conduct a thorough VIN check and obtain a vehicle history report before finalizing a purchase. Taking this crucial step provides transparency into a vehicle’s past and empowers buyers to invest in quality, reliable pre-owned transportation. With the right information in hand, buyers can have confidence they are making a wise choice and avoiding future headaches.
Montana VIN Search Frequently Asked Questions
How do I look up a title in Montana?
To look up a vehicle's title record in Montana, you can use the Montana Motor Vehicle Division's online title search portal. Enter the VIN, license plate number or owner details to access title information including lien status, title brand history and ownership records. There is a small fee for full title reports.
Why do people register cars in Montana?
Some people register their vehicles in Montana for the perk of no sales tax. Montana has no general sales tax, so registering a car there can save money over states with sales tax. However, Montana titles still require all appropriate fees paid. Out-of-state registrants may need to prove residency or meet exemption requirements.
Can I get Montana plates online?
Yes, Montana offers the ability to renew license plate stickers online, but first-time Montana plates must be obtained in person. Visit your local Montana DMV office with your current out-of-state registration and proof of identification to transfer your vehicle registration and get new Montana plates issued on the spot.
How do I register a car in Montana without living there?
To register a car in Montana without being a resident, you must meet specific criteria. Military personnel stationed in Montana and students attending school in Montana may qualify for exemptions allowing non-resident registration. Check details on the Montana MVD site or consult the county treasurer's office for the county where you want to register the vehicle.
How do I get a missing title in Montana?
If your title is lost, you can obtain a duplicate title in Montana by completing the MVD form MV72 along with payment for the title fees. Provide details on the vehicle, ownership and reason the prior title is unavailable. Once submitted and processed, the Montana MVD will issue you a new title for the vehicle.