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Free Car History Reports – Obtaining Used Car Information without Spending a Dime

Updated on March 11, 2011

Anyone looking to buy a used car knows how important it is to get as much information on the car as possible. That’s why car history reports are so popular. They provide a host of information that will help the car buyer find out pertinent facts about the vehicle he is about to buy.

Pre Owned Car
Pre Owned Car

Readily Available Free Car History Information

Before paying for a car history report you can spend a little time finding out enough information about the car to know if it’s worth it to spend money on a report. In other words, compile your own preliminary free car history report. If the information looks good and you still want to find out more about the car, then order a report (but you shouldn’t have to pay for that either).

Compiling the Free Car History Report

Before you do anything, you must have the VIN (vehicle identification number) for the vehicle. Whether you’re purchasing a used car through a private sale or a dealership, the seller should be able to provide you with the VIN number. If not, skip that car and move onto the next.

Armed with the VIN number visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website and perform a vehicle search. Most, if not all, DMV’s are now automated making the VIN search easy to do. Here’s a link to a listing of the US Department of Motor Vehicle websites. 

The DMV won’t provide a complete used car history, but it will provide the name of the legal owner, whether or not the title for the car is free and clear and if not, how many liens currently on the car. Having a lien on a vehicle is not usually a problem if the current owner is still paying off the loan on the vehicle. However, if the vehicle owner reports that the car is owned outright clear of any liens and/or judgments, the Department of Motor Vehicle information will let you know if that claim is correct.

NCIB's VINcheck
NCIB's VINcheck

Check for Car Theft or Fraud for Free

Using the National Insurance Crime Bureau website, used car buyers can find out whether or not the vehicle had been reported as stolen and not recovered or reported as an insurance company salvaged vehicle. As a car purchaser, you don’t want to buy a car that fits either of those categories.

To find out whether or not a car is stolen or reported as salvage, visit the NICB’s website and use the VIN check service . Equipped with the vehicle identification number, insert it in the “Enter VIN” textbox, agree to the terms and conditions, enter the verification code “CAPTCHA” text and click “Search.”

The National Insurance Crime Bureau allows for up to 5 vehicle checks within a 24 hour period. Best of all the service is free.


Use a Free Car History Reporting Service

Now that you know it’s not stolen or salvaged it’s time to take the next step. Services such as and offer free car history reports. Be advised, however, that the free version of the report only provides the number of records reported on the vehicle. It does not give details as to what each record involves.

It’s also good to utilize more than one free car history reporting service to compare the number of records. If one service reports 5 records and another service for the same vehicle reports 12, something is a little off.

Get a Premium Used Car History Report for Free

It is also possible to get a paid version of the CARFAX history report for free. Many car dealerships are members of the CARFAX online service. Use your negotiating skills to obtain a free paid version of the car history report on the vehicle you’re about to buy. After all, the dealer won’t make a commission if there is no sale. Have them throw in a free history report along with the sale of the car.

Before you set out to negotiate a free report, go to dealerships that are known to be members of the CARFAX on line service. To locate a list of dealers, visit the CARFAX dealer sign in page and insert your zip code in the “Check Your Competition” section of the page and click “GO.” CARFAX will display a list of dealerships along with links to their websites and a link to the dealership’s inventory.

Purchasing a car is a large investment. It’s something that you should not take lightly. Obtaining a free car history report is a necessary tool in evaluating whether or not to purchase a pre-owned vehicle. The information is free and readily available. All you have to do is ask for it.


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    • profile image

      JAMIE 4 years ago

      YOUR NOT FREE LIE..............

    • profile image

      Shannon Paulk 7 years ago

      So true, great hub. Certified used dealers will give you this information free without a problem. You can also find it many places online. There is a link to such a service on

    • profile image

      Novak  7 years ago

      Definitely check up on a vehicle before purchasing it. You never know the history with all of its previous owners.

    • profile image

      Lori Catz 8 years ago

      I wish I knew this 2 months ago. Thank, I'll check the DMV from now on.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      What a fascinating and informative hub, no use to me living in Spain unfortunately but I will be sending a link to this hub to my daughter who lives in the USA.