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Where to Get Free VIN Checks in Canada

Written by Jessica Steer
Buying a brand new vehicle isn't always practical and there are some great used vehicles out there, but it can be really difficult to find a used car that is in good condition. Issues in vehicles can develop over time and you can't always be 100% sure that there is nothing wrong with it. That said, there are things you can do to help mitigate your risk.
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    One of these things is to check the VIN number of the vehicle you wish to purchase. There are plenty of sites that offer this service, but most of them do charge for it. That said, there are a few great free VIN check services out there that you can use before you decide topurchase a vehicle.

    VIN Numbers and Why You Should Search Before You Buy

    A Vin number (VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number) is a number that is unique to the vehicle. It's given to the vehicle at the time that it's manufactured and is usually found in the door jamb on the driver's side or on the top of the dashboard. It can also be seen on your vehicle registration. You should have this, but if you don't you are able to get it from your insurance company.

    This number can tell you when the vehicle was manufactured and where. It will also tell you the make and model, trim level, and anything unique about the vehicle. Because it's registered to the vehicle, searching it will provide you with information on whether there were any recalls on the vehicle, how many owners it's had, any warranty claims, if it's ever been stolen or in an accident and what itsstatus is. It's status could be any of the following:

    • Normal: When a vehicle has a normal status, this means that there is nothing registered to the VIN to indicate that it has any significant damage. That said, that doesn't mean that there isn't any.
    • Altered: This just means that the vehicle has had significant alterations since it's been manufactured, or the vehicle was homemade/constructed. If it's been given this status then that means the vehicle has been inspected and all modifications have been deemed to be structurally sound.
    • Rebuilt: A vehicle with a rebuilt status was previously deemed to be salvage but then repaired. It has passed inspection and been deemed to be structurally sound.

    • Salvaged: This status is given to a vehicle once it's been written off, but still is capable of being rebuilt or repaired.
    • Non-Repairable: To be non-repairable, the vehicle must be written off, unable to be repaired to a point where it's considered safe and structurally sound, and be unable to be licensed/insured. In a case like this, the vehicle can then be used for parts, or taken in as scrap metal.

    While the VIN report won't give you a ton of information in regards to the details, it will give you some idea of what it's been through. In order to know the full details, you would need to do a full mechanical inspection. That said, searching the vehicle's title can help you find proof of the vehicle's ownership.

    Best Ways to Check your VIN for Free

    When you are looking into the car's history, there are plenty of options you could use. Many sites will require payment in order to see full details on the vehicle, but there are still plenty that will give you the information for free. Other sites just have restrictions on how many free VINs you can run in an allotted period of time. It's also important to keep in mind that all the sites will provide the same information. Things like theft records, registration records and service records may not be provided by all the issuers. That said, you can get a free VIN check with any of the sites listed below.

    CARFAX Canada

    CARFAX is one of the best VIN check services out there. They get their information from over 10,000 different resources, giving them some of the most accurate and reliable information out there. That said, the information can still be limited depending on what was reported.

    When using this service for free, you will get some information. In order to see the full vehicle history, you will need to pay for a full report. That said, a lot of private sellers will provide you with the report. Keep in mind though, that CARFAX nor only checks for the vehicle's history, they will also check to see if there are any liens on the vehicle. There's nothing worse than purchasing a vehicle then having it seized later on due to no fault of your own.

    Transport Canada

    Transport Canada is another great way to search a vehicle's VIN number. While this search will only show you if there are any recalls on the vehicle, it does give you more information than before. It's also just a great site to check in general. They update often on tire and car seat manufacturers and if there are any defects and/or recalls.

    Transport Canada is the federal institution that's responsible for different transportation programs and policies. Essentially they promote environmentally responsible transportation while still taking into account safety, security and efficiency. This is why sometimes it's the best place to check for recalls. They are often updated faster than the manufacturer sites.

    VIN Verify

    VIN Verify is another site that doesn't give you the vehicle's history in full. That said it will search the vehicles title and identify if it's be flagged as salvaged, non-repairable or been through a fire or flood making it a valuable free tool.

    This service is provided by the Insurance Bureau of Canada to prevent people from selling these types of vehicles that are unsafe to drive. It became known to them that people bought vehicles that had been damaged but still looked safe, and tried to make a profit off of them. This prompted them to create a database that allows you to check the title before you purchase. All you have to do is enter your VIN and the database will do the rest.

    National Insurance Crime Bureau

    NCIB, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, offers a service that allows you to check VIN numbers and verify if the vehicle was stolen and not recovered, or was deemed to have a salvaged title. They are partnered with insurance companies, law enforcement and consumers, which allows them to have access to this information and then provide it to you.

    If you choose to use the NCIB's site, you are allowed to search up to a total of 5 VIN numbers in 24 hours.


    VehicleHistory will provide you with a detailed vehicle history report, as long as you provide the VIN. They not only provide you with a free vehicle history report, but they also include any incidents, auctions, information on previous owners, vehicle specifications as well as any recalls and complaints.

    The site itself prides itself on its team of researchers and aims to provide users with the most accurate information possible when it comes to purchasing used cars. They provide tons of owner reviews as well as information from reputable sources.


    iSeeCars is unique to the other platforms. Not only is it s free tool that provides you with vehicle history, they also provide you with:

    • Recall information
    • The current market value
    • Predicted depreciation of the vehicle
    • Selling history
    • Market demand

    They also provide you with links to other sites that we have listed above. It has its own unique features, but paired with some of the other VIN searches, you can get an accurate and detailed picture of the car's history.


    While this service isn't Canadian, many Canadians do buy vehicles that are currently in the US or were originally from there. Because of this,VINCheck.Info is a great site to keep track of. All you do is enter your VIN and you will get a detailed report on the vehicle's history. It will cover vehicles in all 50 states.

    Once you have done the check, you can import records and read it or you can have it emailed to you. The vehicle history report includes:

    • Market value
    • Insurance information
    • Outstanding recalls
    • The vehicle title

    You will also be provided with any other key details about the vehicle. They also perform title status checks to let you know if the vehicle has ever been in any major accidents and you have any reason to believe it may not be safe to drive.

    VINAudit Canada

    VINAudit is another great resource for doing a VIN number lookup. They work with different organizations such as nonprofits and government agencies to provide you with the most up to date information. That said, your initial free search will only give you limited information. You will have to purchase the full vehicle history reports in order to get all the details.

    What the Numbers and Letters on a VIN Mean

    As you may have guessed, the numbers and letters assigned to a VIN aren't random. The VIN represents all of the specifics of the vehicle that makes it unique.. They are all 17 digits that can be broken down. Let's look at an example:


    • The first digit (in this case 2) refers to the country that the vehicle was manufactured in.
    • The second digit (A) refers to the manufacturer.
    • The third (B) is the vehicles division (type).
    • The next 5 (CD3E4) refer to the make, model, body style as well as the engine size and type.The next (F) is a security check digit.
    • After that is the digit that refers to the model year (G) and (H) the assembly plant the vehicle was built in.
    • The last 6 digits (I56789) refer to the serial number of the vehicle. This is also sometimes referred to as the Vehicle's production number.

    When you do a VIN verification search, all of this information will show up in the report as well.


    When it comes to purchasing a used vehicle, it's impossible to know the full usage history of the vehicle. That said, doing a VIN search can help you get a better understanding of the vehicle's history. You can see if the vehicle is stolen, its current status, the title and any other relevant information that can help you decide if the vehicle is the right fit for you. While many of these services do require payment, as you can see, there are a few here that provide you with the information you are looking for for free. You can also use more than one of these free services to get access to as much information as possible.

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