Using VIN Numbers To Check Car Accident History

Dustin Hawley | Sep 30, 2022

Buying cars is becoming increasingly difficult in the current market, and making an informed decision is imperative for all consumers. Any helpful information greatly benefits you, especially if the vehicle in question is a used model. 

Using VIN Numbers To Check Car Accident History

Today, we will discuss checking your car accident history with your VIN. We will explain a VIN, tell you where to locate it, touch upon the importance of vehicle history reports, and discuss where you can get your hands on one. 

What Is A VIN?

A Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is a code that lists basic information about the vehicle. It sheds light on the car's serial number and other numbers or characters that reference where it was manufactured. It also shows characteristics (engine size, vehicle type) and the car's model year. 

VIN has nothing to do with your license plate number, and you should treat it almost like an SSN unique to your car. It is used to reveal specific details about your vehicle. 

Where Can I Find Accident History?

The VIN itself never shows how many accidents the car has been in. However, you can still use it to determine the hardships it endured. 

If the vehicle in question has been in an accident, various sources like mechanics, insurance companies, and car registries will accumulate this information. You will have to use your VIN to gain access to it. 

Seeing as the VIN may be challenging to find, you should start by looking at your dashboard. Search near where the dashboard meets the edge of the windshield on the driver's side. The VIN should be embossed on a fixed metal plate that anyone can view from outside the vehicle. 

If you struggle to locate the VIN, check your insurance card or the driver’s side door jamb. Your VIN may be documented somewhere in these locations. If you still find yourself unsuccessful in locating the number, look at some key components like the engine or transmission, as the VIN may be located there to prevent theft. 

Why Is Accident History Important?

Accident history always comes as part of something called a car report. It shows complete vehicle history: prior maintenance, repairs, accidents, owners, and locations. They leave private information out of your reach but allow you to glimpse into the car’s life and see what hides behind its shiny coat.

Getting your hands on such a report does not make sense if the vehicle is fresh off the production line. For used cars, we suggest investing your time into obtaining one.

Accident history indicates what issues previous owners experienced. It briefly outlines all accidents and states where the vehicle was brought for repairs, allowing you to assess the overall condition. You will also be able to determine if the car is a lemon (has manufacturing defects) or foresee potential problems pertaining to the purchase.

How Can I Obtain A Car Report? 

Some dealerships hand out these reports for free, and you should always ask for one when dealing with used cars. Private sellers may also have them lying around if they are confident in the ride’s condition. However, that does not help your case, and you should look into various services that can compile or source reports. 

Carfax is a reputable source for your car’s history and can provide you with all the relevant information you need to make an informed purchase decision. You get incredibly detailed information on a vehicle and peace of mind knowing you are receiving accurate information. A single Carfax report costs $40 and is an excellent value. To obtain a Carfax report, simply pay the fee, provide the vehicle’s VIN or license plate number, and you are good to go.


A VIN is instrumental when trying to determine a used car’s history. We hope you’ve learned enough here to have a clearer picture of any used car you’re looking to purchase.

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