Vehicle owner lookup by VIN – is it possible?

Evaldas Zabitis

Evaldas Zabitis

Every vehicle operating on the road has a unique VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), used for identifying a vehicle and checking its history records. More and more people are buying used cars only after checking their history beforehand, as mileage fraud, hidden damages, and fake information are very common problems in a used car market.

Another reason people get a VIN check is to look up the vehicle's current and previous owners. While this would certainly be useful for determining the value of a motor vehicle, it isn't really possible. With that said, there are some things a history report can tell you on the topic of ownership.

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Vehicle history check vs. owner lookup

The main reason used car buyers want to know about previous car owners is to evaluate a car’s condition more accurately. However, one of the most common ways to learn about a car is getting a vehicle history report and learning about the car itself. It reveals valuable and reliable information that makes your purchase more transparent.

Records timeline from carVertical vehicle history report

All you have to do is enter a VIN into a VIN decoder. A quick pre-check shows basic information that allows you identify a car. Then you can get a full history report featuring vehicle records about mileage, damages, titles, equipment, and ownership history.

Car history platforms like carVertical collect and process data from vehicle inspection centers, governmental registries, insurance companies, dealerships, various other institutions, and databases. You can see our sample report to get an idea of what you’re getting.

carVertical sample report

Can you look up previous car owners using a VIN?

Some used car sellers hide the VIN, thinking that a vehicle's historical records reveal private information about a car's owner. This is false because a VIN doesn’t reveal the registered owners of a vehicle, their names, phone numbers, or home addresses.

A VIN only shows when the vehicle changed hands and in which country it happened. If you discover that owners have changed often, you should be wary of possible problems.

Ownership change records in history report

What are the benefits of checking a car's history?

You shouldn’t buy a used car without checking its history and then taking a car for an inspection. While inspection centers and repair shops can reveal current issues, a history check shows how previous owners treated it. Here are some benefits of checking a car’s history.

Easier evaluation

Sellers can set a car’s price without restrictions, meaning it doesn’t always reflect its condition. Even if you’re considering a low-priced used car, its history can show what you may be getting into. Vehicle history reports provide essential data that may give you the upper hand in negotiations.

Real mileage

Mileage rollback seen in vehicle history report

Higher mileage always increases the risk of unexpected damages and decreases a car’s value. Unfortunately, mileage fraud is widespread – in some European countries, almost 20% of cars have a fake mileage reading. That’s how dishonest used car sellers try to increase a car’s value. Learn more about odometer rollbacks here.

Revealed thefts

Stolen vehicle records

Buying a stolen vehicle is one of the worst-case scenarios because you’ll most likely lose it without any compensation. If someone manages to get a stolen car on the market, the following owner will get in trouble trying to register it. You can quickly check if a car is stolen and avoid hefty problems in the future.

Information about damages

Every car is good as long as you take proper care of it. That’s why learning about a used car’s past before buying is essential. Car accidents are among the most vicious car destroyers – vehicles suffer from structural damages, airbags go off, and proper repairs are often too expensive.

Car damage records

Checking if a car has been in an accident helps to evaluate how badly a vehicle was damaged, so you can thoroughly inspect particular areas for shoddy repairs or missing bits.

You should always take the necessary precautions to ensure the car you're planning to buy is safe and in good condition. You can’t reveal any private information about previous car owners, but you can learn many details about a vehicle’s past by getting a car history report.

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Evaldas Zabitis

Article by

Evaldas Zabitis

Evaldas has been writing since middle school and has had a passion for cars for as long as he can remember. Right after getting his driver’s license, he spent all of his savings on shoddy cars so he could spend time fixing, driving, and selling them. Evaldas is always interested in automotive technical innovations and is an active participant in automotive community discussions.