Buying a used car in Illinois? Running a VIN search is crucial to avoid getting scammed. The unique 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) contains valuable information about a car's history and can help you make the safest purchase.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about VIN searches in Illinois, from decoding a VIN to accessing vehicle history reports.
What is a VIN and How is it Used in Illinois?
The VIN or vehicle identification number is a unique serial number assigned to every car, truck, motorcycle, and trailer. Acting like a car's fingerprint, no two VINs are alike even among vehicles of the same make and model.
In Illinois, the VIN serves multiple important purposes:
- Identification and Tracking: Law enforcement uses the VIN to identify and track stolen vehicles as well as investigate accidents. It's also used by the Illinois Secretary of State's office for registration and titling records.
- Safety Inspections: Mechanics utilize the VIN to look up manufacturer recalls and maintenance requirements during inspections. VIN verification is mandatory before emissions testing in Illinois.
- Insurance: Insurance providers use the VIN to accurately determine insurance rates based on a vehicle's accident and theft history.
- Maintenance and Repairs: Mechanics use the VIN to access a car's full history so they can perform repairs and maintenance more efficiently.
So in summary, the VIN is invaluable for tracking vehicles and accessing their complete histories in Illinois.
How to Find a VIN on Your Car
Locating your car's unique VIN is easy! It is stamped in several locations:
- On a metal plate or sticker on the driver's side door jamb
- Under the windshield on the driver's side dashboard
- On the vehicle title and registration paperwork
- On the auto insurance card
For motorcycles, look for the VIN on the steering neck or near the bottom of the engine cylinders.
Jot it down when you find it to start your VIN search.
How Many Digits are in a VIN?
VINs consist of 17 characters – both numbers 0-9 and capital letters A-Z.
O, I, and Q are never used to avoid confusion with zeros and ones.
The 17 digits are divided into different sections encoding the car's key details:
- 1st digit: Country of origin
- 2nd digit: Manufacturer
- 3rd digit: Vehicle type or make
- 4th – 8th digits: Model, engine type, restraint system
- 9th digit: Check digit to validate the VIN
- 10th digit: Model year
- 11th digit: Assembly plant
- 12th – 17th digits: Production sequence number
So a typical VIN might look like this: 1C4RJFAG3FC854632
How to Do a Free VIN Check in Illinois
Another way to perform a free basic VIN search in Illinois is to use the Title and Registration Status Check on the Illinois Secretary of State website.
You simply enter the VIN to access:
- Title information: Lien data, title brands like salvage/rebuilt, odometer readings
- Registration status: Expiration date, plate number
The Illinois State Police can also provide free VIN decoding to verify VINs that are missing, altered, or suspicious.
What Does an Illinois VIN Check Report Contain?
A full vehicle history report from a paid VIN search typically provides valuable info such as:
- Technical specifications: Year, make, model, engine size, country of origin
- Ownership history: Previous owners, lien and title transfer records
- Odometer readings: Mileage verification to catch rollbacks
- Damage history: Accidents, insurance claims, repairs
- Safety issues: Manufacturer recalls and defects
- Verification of use: Rental, fleet, taxi, police car
- Title brands: Salvage, rebuilt, junk, flood damage, more
So in summary, a comprehensive VIN check report equips you with a used car's complete background before buying it.
Buying a Used Car in Illinois? Safeguard Your Purchase
With over 600,000 used cars sold in Illinois annually, you must take precautions before driving one home. VIN searches and vehicle inspections protect against buying used cars that are:
- Previously wrecked: Over 1,000 severe accidents happen yearly in Illinois. Cars get fixed up and resold without buyers knowing the real damage.
- Odometer rollbacks: Dishonest sellers roll back odometers to show inflated low mileages. A VIN check provides all recorded odometer readings to catch tampering.
- Title washed: Seriously damaged cars get a “clean” title through title washing scams. Branded titles indicate rebuilt/salvage status.
- Flood damaged: Cars totaled in floods get cleaned up and passed off as flawless used cars.
Get peace of mind by doing a VIN search before buying any used car in Illinois. A vehicle history report saves you from expensive hidden problems down the road.
How to Perform a Free License Plate Lookup in Illinois
The above example image is a free license plate lookup on Bumper, they also have more detailed paid license plate lookups.
Running a license plate search is another fast way to access vehicle records. The Illinois SOS lets you lookup license plates on their website or mobile app.
Enter the license plate number to access:
- Vehicle year, make, model
- VIN number
- Title, lien and brand data
- Registration status and expiration
While free license plate searches won't provide a full vehicle history, they complement your VIN check with additional registration details, and a paid option usually will provide all the information you need.
Beware of VIN Cloning: How to Detect it
VIN cloning is a scam where vehicles get falsely registered using a stolen VIN. This is done to either mask a car's checkered history or make stolen cars appear legit.
Watch for these red flags of a cloned VIN:
- VIN looks tampered with or restamped
- VIN plate seems loose or mismatched
- Paperwork doesn't match VIN decoding
- Various parts have different VINs
- The report shows weird history disconnects
If you suspect VIN cloning, request a police VIN inspection. Running both a VIN check and license plate lookup can also help uncover duplication.
Choose the Best VIN Check Provider
While the Illinois SOS offers free basic VIN searches, third-party vehicle history sites provide more detailed reports. However, quality can vary dramatically among providers.
Ensure your safety by choosing services that:
- Have vast up-to-date databases – over 5 billion records and growing!
- Compile data from many sources – NMVITS, Illinois DMVs, insurance companies, etc
- Offer affordable pricing – Fees start around $10 for a proper one
- Provide unlimited free VIN searches
- Have an easy-to-use website and mobile apps
VinCheckup meets all the criteria for a trustworthy, thorough, and low-cost VIN check provider. Their full history reports help buyers make the safest decision in Illinois and nationwide.
A vehicle history report opens up a used car's past to expose any hidden issues before you buy. While the Illinois SOS offers free basic VIN lookups, third-party websites provide more comprehensive and affordable reports.
Searching both the VIN number and license plate together gives a complete overview of any Illinois vehicle. This equips you to purchase smartly, avoid being scammed, and drive safely on the roads.
So be sure to get the full history with a VIN check before buying any used car in the Land of Lincoln!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I check a VIN number in PA?
You can perform a free VIN check through the PA DMV website to verify vehicle details. Other options include asking law enforcement, a dealership, or mechanic to physically inspect the VIN plates.
How do I find out who owns a vehicle in PA?
A vehicle registration search on the PA DMV website can provide the name and address of the current registered owner. You can search by license plate or VIN for a small fee.
Where can I get a VIN inspection in PA?
Many auto repair shops, dealers, mechanics, police stations, and notaries in PA offer VIN verification services to validate the VIN on a vehicle physically.
How do I check the status of my car title in PA?
You can search for the status of your PA vehicle title on the DMV website by VIN or title number. It will show if it's active, expired, pending, etc.
How long does a PA title search take?
An instant title search can be done online through the PA DMV for a small fee. In-person title searches at DMV locations may take 15-30 minutes depending on demand.
How do I find my title number in PA?
Your PA title number can be found on your vehicle title document, registration card, or by looking up your title status on the DMV website through your license plate or VIN number.