VIN Lookup in Alabama
The State of Alabama reported the highest number of auto crashes in 2020. This statistic highlights the need for extensive research when buying or researching the history or market value of a vehicle, and a VIN check offers state residents a chance to do this. Unlike an Alabama license plate lookup which primarily provides details of a vehicle ownership history and may offer insights into the car’s market value, a VIN lookup provides inquirers details of a vehicle’s specification.
Every vehicle in Alabama has a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as required by the 1975 Code Of Alabama. The code states that the enforcement officers must adequately check every newly titled or non-titled vehicle during registration (for the first time) to ensure its VIN records are well-documented on the certificate of title and during vehicle registration.
The Alabama Department of Revenue for Motor Vehicle Division (ADOR-MVD) is responsible for VIN Checks, and the Department conducts these checks for a fee. However, some online non-government platforms, including vehicle manufacturers, can also provide this service, and in some cases, at no cost. The significant advantage of using ADOR-MVD is the quality of the details provided.
A VIN lookup serves many purposes in ensuring motor vehicle safety, investigations by law enforcement, and in obtaining details contained in a vehicle history report.
What is a Vehicle Identification Number in Alabama?
A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the identification code of every vehicle in Alabama. It can be likened to a person's Social Security Number (SSN) since no two cars can have the exact VIN.
The VIN of a vehicle is VIN’s are issued as soon as the car is manufactured. A typical VIN is a 17-digit code with different alphanumeric characters describing the vehicle, and in Alabama, there are specified standards on where to position the VIN in a car in Alabama, although it is common to locate it on a vehicle's dashboard.
The VIN of every vehicle in Alabama must be recorded during registration and reflected on the certificate of title. It must also be pasted on the car according to the 1975 Code of Alabama to allow for easy visibility. In addition, vehicles are frequently inspected on the highway to verify the state's VIN and control car theft.
How is a VIN Number Used?
There are varying functions for a VIN in Alabama. These purposes are essentially the reasons people look up VIN records in the state. They include the following:
- For obtaining essential details about a vehicle: A VIN provides complete information about a car from the time of manufacture to the present. These details include its model, specifications, ownership records, market price, safety ratings, etc. Due to this reason, a good buyer will look up the VIN of a vehicle before purchasing it.
- To recover vital security details about a vehicle: Through the VIN, it is easy to identify a stolen car without the help of an enforcement officer. Performing a VIN check will indicate a stolen or missing vehicle; buyers can avoid acquiring a stolen one.
VINs are also of prime importance to law enforcement agencies since they can use them to track down criminals and locate their potential hideouts.
- For vehicle and title registration: The 1975 Code Of Alabama requires that every vehicle registered in the state for the first time must have its VIN recorded during the registration and on the certificate of title.
- To look up a vehicle's crash history: It is challenging to identify a rebuilt salvage vehicle once it is rebuilt. However, the VINs of every salvage vehicle is noted as reported in Alabama. If a car's crash history is not found, it is probably a good and reliable vehicle.
- For insurance purposes: Insurance companies also require a vehicle's VIN to adequately register and keep records of their clients during automobile insurance. Registration officers and potential buyers can confirm the insurance status of a car via VIN.
- To confirm warranty Claim: Returning vehicles with a warranty to the manufacturer is easy since the VIN preserves the contract details. The manufacturer would use the VIN of the car to establish such a claim.
- For loan purposes: The VIN of a car is sufficient to use a vehicle as collateral when obtaining a loan since it provides the needed information about the vehicle and the owner.
Who Issues a Vehicle's VIN Number in Alabama?
The VIN of a vehicle is always indicated on purchase by the manufacturer. Therefore, VINs are issued by the manufacturers of a car. However, the Alabama Department of Revenue for Motor Vehicle Division (ADOR-MVD) keeps the record of each vehicle's VIN in the state before issuing the VIN plate. Other functions of ADOR-MVD include:
- Provides full vehicle titles and licenses services, such as giving and replacing them for interested persons
- Regulates Mandatory Liability Insurance Law, International Registration Plan (IRP), and the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) policies in the state.
How Many Digits are in a VIN?
Generally, a standard VIN consists of 17 alphanumeric characters, which serve as an identifier for a particular vehicle. A typical example of a VIN is 3Y1SL65B48Z411439. Each character of a VIN communicates specific information about a car, as shown below:
1 - Country of manufacture
2 - Manufacturer's code
3 - Vehicle type
4 to 8 - Provide details about the Body style, model, and engine size of a vehicle (depending on the manufacturer)
9 - Originality Indicator (used to validate a VIN code)
10 - Model Year
11 - Plant (identified the company's plant where production occurred)
12 - Serial number of the vehicle
Note that vehicles manufactured before 1954 may have VINs of varying lengths since they were no standard requirements during this period. Thus, the generation of VINs was according to the manufacturer's policy.
How to Find Your Car's VIN Number?
The manufacturer determines the location of a vehicle's VIN, although there are recommended locations for VIN to be positioned in Alabama. The following are the standard locations of VIN in different cars as required by the 1975 Code Of Alabama:
- Motorcycle/Bike - The VIN of a motorcycle or bike must be on the front fork. This part is any of the two prongs connected to the front wheel.
- Small Vehicles/Pickups - The VIN should be located at the side windshield or pillar of the driverside door. It is also located on the engine block in some small vehicles though owners may need to repaste them on the required location.
- Trailers and large trucks - It is recommended to be located on the front frame.
- Assembled vehicles - Should be located on the interior of the driverside door.
- Car models of 1954 and older - Should be located on the interior of the fender and driver's side door.
Some manufacturers may also inscribe the VIN on the vehicle's dashboard, under the seat, or on the chassis. Be sure to locate your vehicle's VIN or position it yourself to make it easy for the inspection officers to find it.
How to Conduct a VIN Lookup in Alabama?
Inquirers can conduct a VIN lookup in Alabama through the Alabama Department Of Revenue for Motor Vehicle Division. Interested persons will need to visit the Alabama Department of Revenue to submit their application or pick up the application form and mail it back after filling it out.
There are also tons of standalone websites that offer this service on the internet. However, online websites might need to provide more information about the owner of a vehicle to protect his privacy. In addition, details supplied by a standalone website might also be limited since they cannot be broader than the data source.
How Do I Look Up a VIN Number for Free in Alabama?
Persons who are looking to check a VIN for free in Alabama can do this via third-party online websites offering the service. Unfortunately, ordering a VIN Check on the ADOR-MVD website for free is almost impossible since it involves a one-time payment of $6 per record or an annual subscription of $95.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau website also offers a free VIN lookup tool called "VIN Check" to let the public verify the insurance theft status of a vehicle. However, a person can only look up to five (5) VINs in a day using this tool.
How to Use the VIN Decoder to a VIN Number Check
A VIN decoder is an online tool offered by third-party platforms that read and provide details for the inputted VIN. To use a VIN decoder, input the VIN to be read into the space provided and hit the "check" button. A complete report of the VIN would be displayed on your screen, including information about the country of manufacture, model of car, year of manufacture, ownership, and so on.
Like other third-party websites, the accuracy of information provided by a VIN decoder relies on the database where it obtains information. Therefore, using decoders provided by government websites and reputable high-authority websites is highly recommended.
If an issue comes up while using a VIN decoder, the VIN should be first checked for errors or omissions and re-entered into the decoder. Afterwards, the affected person should contact the website administrator to provide possible solutions if the problem persists.
How to Conduct a VIN Lookup by License Plate in Alabama
Using license plates to conduct a vehicle history check provides an alternative method of VIN Check. A license plate is a unique code issued after a vehicle has been fully registered in Alabama and is of different types. These include:
- Standard License Plates
- Distinctive Plates
- Collegiate License Plates
- Military License Plates
- Disability Access Parking Credentials
- Government Plates
- Vintage Plates
- Dealer and Manufacturer Plates and so on
Conducting a VIN lookup using a license plate works precisely as a VIN and involves a similar process. Interested persons can request details about a license plate from The Alabama Department Of Revenue for Motor Vehicle Division to perform the VIN lookup. Though contacting the Department Of Revenue for License Plate Lookup is the best option, privacy issues might affect the platform's ability to deliver information about the vehicle owner.
Hence, buyers can use online third-party websites to look up a license plate number in Alabama to obtain information about a vehicle. These websites offer paid and free services, but the free checkups might need to be completed. An example of such a site is the Alabama State Records (a private database) which provides all the details about a vehicle, including its ownership, VIN, title information, and so on, via a License Plate Check.
What is a VIN Inspection in Alabama?
VIN Inspection in Alabama refers to confirming that a vehicle's VIN matches the one on the vehicle papers. The 1975 Code of Alabama, under section 810-5-1-.247, defines the state's VIN inspection process. It requires that a licensing officer must physically inspect the VIN of a vehicle to ensure it is appropriately entered during the application for a certificate of title.
The code also holds that:
- Licensing officials may appoint a deputy from other related agencies to inspect and complete the MVTS-9 Vehicle Inspection Form. The officer or his deputy will verify a VIN by signing the form.
- VIN assigned to every vehicle must be unique and standardized; that is, no two cars should have the exact VIN
- The VIN on the vehicle must match that on the ownership and registration documents.
Most states in the US mandate that vehicle owners should perform an annual inspection of their vehicles, but this does not hold in Alabama. Going for a vehicle inspection is the choice of the owner, although this is before:
- Selling and driving a rebuilt salvage vehicle
- Selling other types of vehicle
- Completing the transfer of ownership of a car
Also, there are vehicles exempted from physical inspection in Alabama. These vehicles include:
- Renewals of vehicle registration: A vehicle can be newly registered or renewed in Alabama without a physical inspection, given that it is not a rebuilt vehicle.
- Vehicles registered per section 32-6-56 of the 1975 Code of Alabama: These vehicles are classified as International Registration Plan (IRP) -registered under the code. IRP-registered vehicles are licensed to operate in different jurisdictions of the US (interstate) without frequent inspection.
- Vehicles registered in Alabama within one or two years: If a car has been checked in up to two years, such vehicles are exempted from physical inspection unless the vehicle owner is legally required to do this.
- In-stock vehicles: Vehicles held in warehouses or plants only need a physical inspection if the car dealer registers them adequately under the manufacturing company or his name.
- Utility trailers: The 1975 Code Of Alabama under section 40-12-240 defines and exempts utility trailers from physical inspection since they are considered IRS-registered vehicles and licensed to operate in different states.
How Much is Vehicle Inspection in Alabama?
Vehicle Inspection In Alabama costs $90.00, with $75.00 as the actual inspection fee and the remaining $15 charged as a title insurance fee, according to the Alabama Department Of Revenue. The seeker can then make payment in cash or via money order to the agency.
In Alabama, vehicle inspection cannot be done by a third-party automobile company, whether physically or online. Therefore, vehicle owners should avoid any company claiming to offer such services.
What is a Vehicle Inspection Report in Alabama?
A vehicle inspection report is a document that contains the result of a vehicle and rebuilt inspection done by the ADOR-MVD. The examination includes a complete assessment of every vehicle part and determining its roadworthiness as required by the 1975 Code Of Alabama. The evaluation typically involves the analysis of the following details:
- Odometer readings
- Engine and number of cylinders in the engine
- VIN for proper documentation
- The intensity of apparent damage, such as scratches
- Documentation of the vehicle's manufacturer, model, colour, and other available details
Persons who have applied for a vehicle or rebuilt inspection can track the status of their application on the Alabama Department Of Revenue Inspection Status Portal. Note that a car must be in its original state without any damaged parts to be inspected in Alabama. Hence, vehicle owners should replace damaged parts before applying for a vehicle inspection.
What Does a Vehicle History Report Contain?
A vehicle history report reveals the details obtained when a vehicle VIN is looked up. A history report contains information such as ownership history, insurance status, accident history, repair history, security reports, etc., found in a VIN. It also provides details about the vehicle's title, VIN, and registrants.
This information is essential for potential buyers to decide whether purchasing the vehicle is safe and would also help enforcement agencies during theft to locate the owners.
How to Conduct a VIN Verification in Alabama?
Drivers visiting Alabama must conduct a VIN verification before moving freely within the state. Running a VIN Verification involves checking if the VIN on the car corresponds to that on the vehicle papers by a licensed officer of the Alabama Highway Patrol.
Vehicle owners should verify their vehicles with any available officer of the Highway Patrol once they arrive in Alabama to avoid unnecessary road issues. However, the officer may direct the persons in question to the Department of Revenue to obtain an Application Form for Alabama Assigned Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), known as INV-26-3.
Can I Lookup My Vehicle Specs by VIN Number?
A vehicle's VIN definitely houses its original details and can be used to look up its specs. As stated before, every character of the 17-digit code of a VIN provides information about the vehicle's history. The second (2nd) to the eleventh (11th) characters represent the vehicle's spec. This information is more significant if you purchase a rebuilt or used car.
Can I Check My VIN Number Online in Alabama?
It is possible to check a VIN online in Alabama, although this might attract some charges. Interested persons can do this through the Alabama Vehicle Information Check System and third-party websites managed by private companies with exclusive access to the state database. You may be required to submit details about your vehicle to confirm that it belongs to you.
Can You Track a Car by VIN Number in Alabama?
Tracking a car by VIN is difficult but possible in Alabama since VIN only provides details about a vehicle record and not current geographical information. In addition, there are other devices in a vehicle that are responsible for tracking purposes.
Nonetheless, law enforcement officers can trace a car once there is an attempt to re-register it within the US. The VIN will expose this since it is unique and already recorded in the state's database.
Can You Tell Engine Size by VIN Number?
The 4th to the 8th character of a VIN describes the body style and other parts of a vehicle which varies according to manufacturers. Specifically, the 8th character indicates the engine size and is usually represented by alphabets from capital A to F.
Each alphabet tells you about the type of engine in your car as listed below:
- Capital A - This represents a high-performance petrol engine of 1.6L or lesser
- Capital B - This means a high-performance petrol engine with a capacity between 2.0L to 2.5L
- Capital C - This means a high-performance petrol engine with more than 3.0L capacity
- Capital D - This letter denotes diesel engines
- Capital E - This letter indicates engines of electric vehicles
- Capital F - This letter indicates hybrid-fuel engines, such as a mixture of gasoline and ethanol