With 118,000 crashes reported in Virginia in 2021, buying a used car can feel risky. As a certified mechanic with 20 years of experience, I know how crucial VIN checks are. Decoding a VIN unlocks a vehicle’s past, helping avoid unsafe, stolen, or flood-damaged cars.
In this guide, I’ll explain what a VIN is, where to find it, and why Virginia VIN checks are non-negotiable. You’ll learn how to run free and paid reports to reveal title issues, accidents, open recalls and more. With this insider knowledge, you can shop used cars with confidence, avoiding expensive problems down the road. Let’s get started!
What is a VIN
The VIN code (Vehicle Identification Number) is a unique 17-digit code assigned to every vehicle sold in the United States. This code contains key details about the car like make, model, year, engine specs, and manufacturing information.
How to Find Your VIN Number
On cars, the VIN is usually located on a small placard on the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side. It may also be printed on registration paperwork. On motorcycles and ATVs, check the neck of the steering column.
Knowing the VIN is the key to unlocking a vehicle’s history, so be sure to check it against the title paperwork before purchase.
Why Run a Virginia VIN Check?
There are several critical reasons to run a VIN search before buying a used car in Virginia:
Check for Accidents and Damage
A paid-for VIN check can reveal if a Virginia vehicle has been in any accidents, floods, storms, or suffered other damage not visible upon inspection. This helps avoid potentially unsafe vehicles with structural or mechanical issues. According to the Virginia DMV, there were over 127,000 traffic crashes in the state in 2017.
Check for Open Recalls
Unrepaired safety recalls can pose serious risks. A VIN check gives insight into any outstanding recalls that should be addressed before driving the vehicle.
Verify Ownership and Title History
A VIN check shows how many previous owners a vehicle had, along with its title history. This helps spot potential red flags like salvage or rebuilt titles.
Check for Theft and Fraud
Ensure the vehicle was not stolen or associated with any criminal activity. Car theft for resale is all too common, and you want to make sure the car your buying isn’t stolen. Otherwise you could end up in a bit of trouble and also have to give the car back.
Compare Mileage Reports
VIN checks give you access to odometer readings over the vehicle’s lifetime. This allows you to identify mileage inconsistencies and potential odometer rollbacks.
How to Run a Free Virginia VIN Check
Running your own Virginia VIN number check is fast and easy with the right online tools, and will provide you with a simple but detailed vehicle history report. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Input the VIN
Enter the vehicle’s 17-digit VIN into the search box on the vehicle history at the top of this article, or at the bottom if you are on mobile. Double-check check the VIN matches the title documents.
Step 2: Review Instant Report
In seconds, you’ll receive a comprehensive report on that specific vehicle’s background. Be sure to read through carefully.
Step 3: Check Multiple VINs
Run as many free VIN checks as needed when shopping for a used car. Comparing reports helps assess options.
Step 4: Dig Deeper as Needed
If any flags pop up, do some additional digging. Request police reports, maintenance records or other documents.
What’s Included in a Virginia VIN Report?
Quality VIN checks tap into a range of record sources to build a complete profile of a vehicle. Here are some key items included:
- Title Information – Checks for salvage, rebuilt, odometer discrepancies, theft history, and more.
- Accident History – Accesses national databases for accident reports, damage, injuries, and insurance claims.
- Open Recalls – Gives insight into any critical safety recalls that need to be addressed.
- Ownership History – Shows registration locations and number of previous owners.
- Mileage Reports – Compares odometer readings over the vehicle’s lifetime to spot irregular patterns.
- Police Reports – Checks state and national databases for any incidents involving the vehicle.
- Lemon History – Reveals manufacturer buybacks due to defects.
- Service Records – Maintenance and repair invoices when available.
Resources for Virginia Drivers and Owners
Beyond VIN checks, Virginia motorists have access to a range of helpful online resources:
- Virginia DMV – For license and registration info, locations, and online services visit Virginia DMV.
- Emissions and Safety Inspections – Find certified inspection stations throughout the state.
- Recalls Database – Lookup recalls by VIN through the NHTSA.
- Vehicle Safety Ratings – Browse crash test results by make and model.
- Market Values – Compare average resale prices locally and nationally.
- Automotive Reviews – Read expert evaluations on performance, features and reliability.
Protect Yourself with Free and VIN Reports from MechanicAnswer.com
As you can see, running a VIN number check with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is absolutely vital when buying a used vehicle in Virginia or any state. It can help you avoid unsafe, stolen, or flood-damaged cars with unclear histories.
That’s why we always recommend using Vincheckup for your free and paid VIN check before purchasing your next used car. Their full vehicle history reports tap into over 6 billion records across thousands of data sources nationwide to give you the deep insights you need.
The easy-to-read reports highlight any red flags, giving you peace of mind that you’re making a smart, informed buying decision. Be sure to run a VIN number lookup free on every vehicle you’re considering buying or selling. And if you’ve any questions about VINs, car repair, maintenance, or buying and selling of cars, make sure to use our mechanics online service where you can get unlimited help and advice online for a full week!
Making an educated purchase should be the priority for any used car buyer. Taking a few quick minutes to run a VIN check can save you from headaches, unexpected repairs, and potentially unsafe vehicles down the road. Focus your search on vehicles with clean histories, and you’ll be able to drive off the lot with true confidence and peace of mind.
Virginia Vin Check Frequently Asked Questions
Does Virginia require VIN verification?
Yes, Virginia requires VIN (vehicle identification number) verification as part of the title and registration process when registering a used vehicle purchased from a private party. This confirms the VIN on the vehicle matches the VIN on the title documents. Virginia DMV inspection stations can perform VIN verifications.
Where can I check a VIN number for free?
You can check a VIN number for free using online VIN decoder or lookup tools offered by websites like DMV.org and mechanicanswer.com. These free VIN check services allow you to instantly validate the VIN and get basic vehicle specs and recall info. The free report will provide some information but a paid report offers more insight.
Who conducts VIN confirmations in Virginia?
In Virginia, VIN verifications are conducted by authorized DMV inspection stations, Virginia State Police offices, or new/used car dealers licensed in Virginia. DMV inspection stations perform VIN inspections for a small fee. Make sure to call ahead to confirm VIN check service availability.
Can you look up a VIN online?
Yes, you can lookup a VIN number online instantly using free VIN decoder/lookup tools on websites like Mechanic Answer and the NHTSA. Checking a VIN online is quick and easy.
Is it secure to share a VIN online?
It's generally secure to share your VIN online with reputable websites offering free VIN checks/decoders. You should avoid posting your full VIN publicly online. Limit shared digits to protect your identity. Do not share your VIN to run a check on unverified sites. Use trusted VIN check services to minimize risk of your VIN being misused.