How to Check If a Used Car Has Been Stolen

    Before purchasing any used vehicle, make sure its past does not hold dark secrets. Unfortunately, some sellers are unscrupulous, so they conceal facts that would deter buyers. Luckily, you can check auto background easily — just run a quick check of the identifier.

    Every vehicle sold in the United States since 1981 has a unique 17-digit code. Known as VIN, it allows you to obtain full reports about the history and specifications of any car or motorbike. No two numbers are the same, which is why you can check stolen car by VIN easily. Any accidents, repossessions, damage, and other critical events are also highlighted instantly.

    Prevent Big Mistakes

    Even when the deal seems irresistible, do not pay until you are sure the vehicle is legit. An online check will prevent you from buying illegally traded property. If you see that the title has been hijacked, cancel the deal and contact law enforcement. This check is recommended by state authorities.

    How to Find the Code

    The sequence is always stamped on non-removable elements. It includes numerals and letters except for those that are easily confused — I, O, and Q. The location varies depending on the manufacturer and model. Some typical locations include:

    • The windshield on the driver’s side (bottom left);
    • The front side of the frame near the container holding the washer fluid for the windshield;
    • The well of the rear wheel above the tire;
    • Under the spare tire;
    • The door jamb on the driver’s side.

    If VINs Don’t Match

    The number on the vehicle must match the sequence in any paperwork that comes with it, including the owner’s manual. In case of a mismatch, you have grounds for concern. If there is no number at all, this could mean the vehicle was not produced for sale in the US, so it may not be registered in the country.

    Finally, you can see different numbers on the vehicle itself. This often happens when cars are hijacked. Most consumers only pay attention to the number on the windshield, so thieves do not bother changing the other ones.

    Additional Benefits

    Finding out if the vehicle was stolen is just one of the benefits. The full report will tell you about any suspicious events in history before the car was returned to the owner. For example, it may have been damaged. Generally, buyers should never presume that a car that was hijacked is safe for driving.

    You can use the check on your smartphone. During the visual examination of the vehicle, find the number and enter it into the search field. If you see that the car is stolen, inform the police, but do not tell the owner to avoid problems.

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