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Cappy

Using AutoCheck to find VINs by entering a license plate

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Recently, AutoCheck (www.autocheck.com) has redesigned their website to make it more user-friendly. One of the new features on that site is the ability to find the history of a vehicle by entering its license plate. By doing so, you'll be able to see the basic information, including the VIN, without having to pay a penny. I believe this method is useful when gathering VINs to add to the wiki in the event that you have the bus number and its license plate, but you're physically unable to obtain its VIN.

I've attached two examples: the first one in gathering the VIN of Nassau Inter-County Express' Orion V CNG #1007 (originally Foothill Transit F1227) and the other in gathering the VIN of WestCAT's Gillig BRT #404.

 NICE 1007.jpg WestCAT 404

There are a few things that need to be mentioned in using this method:

  • The vehicle histories don't include a build date of a bus.
  • The license plate must be the current plate on the bus. If you entered the license plate and selected the correct state/US territory and you get the "We're sorry: We can't find that car" result, either the plate was replaced by a newer plate, was built before 1981 (they had serials before VINs came into use), or AutoCheck hasn't received the title information with that plate yet. If it's the last one, check again at a later time.
  • You can only use the license plate search from buses that are/were registered in the 50 US states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  The Guam and the US Virgin Islands selections are also listed, but you can't license plate search the buses registered in those US territories as I've found out that they're "exported," making those aforementioned selections useless. It's also not possible to license plate search the buses registered in Canada yet. Although, AutoCheck does have vehicle histories from some of the buses up there, so it's possible that they may add the acronyms of the provinces and its territories to the list in the future...
  • There are some transit agencies that are somehow aware of their buses being searched online and will make some sort of change so that the license plates of their buses can't be searched on AutoCheck again, unless these transit agencies reregister their existing buses for new plates.  The best ways to get around this is to collect more than half of the license plates of a particular bus series and run those plates and everything between them during the night.  So far, here's the following transit agencies that will remove the license plate info and is relayed to AutoCheck: Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority, Central Florida Regional Transit Authority (LYNX), Chicago Transit Authority, Connect Transit, Eau Claire Transit, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Maryland Transit Administration, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Milwaukee County Transit System, Montachusett Regional Transit Authority, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (Mountain Line), Sangamon Mass Transit District, Trimet, VIA Metropolitan Transit, Westchester County Bee-Line System.

Edited by Cappy
Added more info and a new link found by DD 6V92TA

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On 5/13/2015 at 9:39 PM, Cappy said:

Recently, AutoCheck (www.autocheck.com) has redesigned their website to make it more user-friendly. One of the new features on that site is the ability to find the history of a vehicle by entering its license plate. By doing so, you'll be able to see the basic information, including the VIN, without having to pay a penny. I believe this method is useful when gathering VINs to add to the wiki in the event that you have the bus number and its license plate, but you're physically unable to obtain its VIN.

I've attached two examples: the first one in gathering the VIN of Nassau Inter-County Express' Orion V CNG #1007 (originally Foothill Transit F1227) and the other in gathering the VIN of WestCAT's Gillig BRT #404 (this one hasn't been added to the wiki at the time of this post).

There are a few things that need to be mentioned in using this method:

  • The vehicle histories don't include a build date of a bus.
  • The license plate must be the current plate on the bus. If you entered the license plate and selected the correct state/US territory and you get the "We're sorry: We can't find that car" result, either the plate was replaced by a newer plate, was built before 1981 (they had serials before VINs came into use), or AutoCheck hasn't received the title information with that plate yet. If it's the latter, check again at a later time.
  • You can only enter the license plates from buses that are/were registered in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. It's not possible for buses registered in Canada yet. Although, AutoCheck does have vehicle histories from some of the buses up there, so it's possible that they may add the acronyms of the provinces and its territories to the list in the future.

 

I've been using this site to the fullest and acquired quite a few VINs over the past 2 years. However I've noticed since 2016, they've been trying not to display the VINs when using the search feature. I don't know if you've ran into this problem yet, but my first solution around it was to use an old browser. That worked perfectly until this month. Now the only way around it is to use this link (http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/AutoCheck-vehicle-history-reports/c/VHRs#showSearchVin) instead of just going straight to autocheck.com. Works on modern browsers too.

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I've noticed the change since last night, but originally thought it was only the buses I was searching that have no vehicle histories.  Now that I've tried a license plate search on a bus that does have vehicle histories, you're right.  The link you've provided works and I'll post it in the first post of this thread.

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Autocheck is getting picky again with displaying VINs even with the new link I listed, especially if you search by license plate. Again, older browsers seem to not have this issue as much as modern ones, but I sometimes have to click back and forth between these links: 

http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/AutoCheck-vehicle-history-reports/c/VHRs#showSearchVin

http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/subscription-benefits (#showSearchVin)

Sometimes adding or removing "#showSearchVin" will make the VIN pop up, but other times it doesn't. If you have an old browser laying around like IE8 or Safari 4, I'd suggest using that over Google Chrome for autochekck.

--------------------------

Also something to note, watch out for false check numbers listed on autocheck for 1982-1984 Gillig Phantom VINs. I've noticed in some cases, VINs that I put on there that were taken directly from build plates do not work, but then it will work if you put in the wrong check number (even though it'll say 0 records). For example 15GCD0812E1080786 from SamTrans 852: 59ff44eb59f9d_852pic9(ChrisGilesAug.2016).thumb.jpg.d4ce39063bd8138da757f8043a386194.jpg.

It may be a little hard to tell in that pic from my friend, but I can clearly see a "2" in the check number position. However autocheck does not have that in their system, instead they have it as "15GCD081XE1080786" with zero records. This isn't the case for all 1982-1984 Phantom VINs, but it is for some. I've been adding a lot of Gillig VINs lately and I do use autocheck to confirm the accuracy of check numbers, but I only do so with 1985 and newer Phantoms, also if it has 0 records I leave the check number space empty between the prefix & serial when adding to the wiki until I can get some confirmation elsewhere. @Dave Mackey @Cappy

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Update: Using this link " http://www.autocheck.com/vehiclehistory/autocheck/en/AutoCheck-vehicle-history-reports/c/VHRs#showSearchVin " will display the license plate result without the VIN. However delete " #showSearchVin " and refresh the page. It will show the VIN every time.

===============

Here's a great alternative site that does the same thing as autocheck. I just started using it a couple of nights ago and found out they have A LOT of plates/VIN's that autocheck doesn't have in their system. I highly recommend using this site side by side with autocheck or if a plate does not work. So far California plates have worked the best compared to others, but there are options for all 50 states; (you can select). CA example: https://www.vehiclehistory.com/licence-plate-search/free-licence-plate-search-california.php

@GojiMet86 @Cappy

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On 3/17/2018 at 4:53 PM, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA said:

 

Here's a great alternative site that does the same thing as autocheck. I just started using it a couple of nights ago and found out they have A LOT of plates/VIN's that autocheck doesn't have in their system. I highly recommend using this site side by side with autocheck or if a plate does not work. So far California plates have worked the best compared to others, but there are options for all 50 states; (you can select). CA example: https://www.vehiclehistory.com/licence-plate-search/free-licence-plate-search-california.php

 

 

Using it at this moment...

Denver RTD Gillig Phantoms #8248 and #8254 became Golden Touch #4001 and #4002.

Hertz 15GGD2219X1070145 and 15GGD2217W1070093 became Golden Touch #9001 and #9003.

Hertz 15GGB2210X1071240 to MCIZ #315.

Utah UTA #9266, #9261, and Des Moines ARTA #337 became Golden Touch #7000, #7006, and #7007.

Avon-Beaver Creek #843 to Gray Line double-decker #852, Denver RTD #8207,#8239, #8229, #8026 to Gray Line #820, #830, #862, #865

 

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On 4/21/2018 at 11:49 AM, 160 Downriver said:

Here's something else to take note of: Michigan municipal plates ("X") will not work when entered on either site.

It could be because you're adding "X." On old CA Exempt plates, they sport "E" in an octagon in front of the plate number. If you add that "E" in auto check & vehicle history, it will not work, but if you type in the plate without the "E" it will work (depending on if the plate is in their system). Example: 098765 vs. E098765

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Lately I've been trying to get VINs for OCTA's 2007 New Flyer C40LFRs by putting the license plate numbers using this site (https://www.vehiclehistory.com/licence-plate-search/free-licence-plate-search-california.php ) but it fails, leading me into this error page because that site just had been updated, effectively making bus VINs impossible and futile to get right now.

1.png

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18 hours ago, GojiMet86 said:

Seems to have returned to normal:

https://www.vehiclehistory.com/license-plate-search/

Thank you for the update. I was quite disappointed when their plate search feature stopped working all together. I even emailed them about the site troubles, but never heard back. I think they were just redesigning their site since the link is a little different and the site look is totally different now. Also I noticed their plate search feature was glitching before the redesign of the site and I had to refresh the page many times to get the correct VIN displayed. It kept displaying previous search results.

==========================================================================

During the time their site was down, someone sent me another great website, it is not a plate search supplement, but it is another decent tool for finding VINs and plates: https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/Home/ You can search a number of companies/agencies by name or USDOT and a list of inspected vehicles are shown once you scroll down and click on the Complete SMS Profile. I tried it with a few school districts, smaller companies, rental car shuttle companies and a couple of larger transit agencies. I found quite a few VINs & plates that autocheck, vehiclehistory and carfax did not have or that I normally would not have been able find at all.

Also, autocheck, vehiclehistory and carfax sometimes have invalid VINs in their systems. CA Plate 82985Y1 gives you 15GCD2013V1088885. However I found out this was an invalid VIN and the real VIN was 15GCD2013V1088851. It can be seen here: https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/Carrier/2766763/CompleteProfile.aspx https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/SMS/Event/Inspection/63850135.aspx

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On 7/31/2019 at 9:22 AM, GojiMet86 said:

It looks like AutoCheck has decided to stop showing the VINs.

 

FaxVIN (https://www.faxvin.com/license-plate-lookup) seems to be a different alternative.

Another one: https://www.usacarrecord.com

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Also Vehicle History from January to June of this year was displaying the NMVTIS reports with each VIN check/plate check for free. The info I found on there for bus dispositions was absolutely AMAZING and I spent many days and nights running reports/writing down the disposition info. Sadly they took this feature down in June, but it sounds like it may come back eventually. Let me know if you find other sites that have useful reports at no cost. Illinois Title Status Inquiry is good for checking to see if buses are scrapped or not.

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Does anyone know of a website that does free Canadian license plate and vin lookups?

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On 8/11/2019 at 9:31 AM, Thomasw said:

Does anyone know of a website that does free Canadian license plate and vin lookups?

Unfortunately, not Canadian license plates.  VINs are universal so if you search "vin reversal search" or something like that you should find plenty of sites that you can use.

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