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Alaska Public Records
VIN Check

VIN Lookup in Alaska

In Alaska, the VIN lookup process allows members of the public to obtain information about a vehicle using its vehicle identification number. The provisions for using a VIN number in Alaska are outlined in Alaska Stat. § 28.10.061 which requires all vehicles manufactured in the state to be designated a VIN. A VIN lookup will return information regarding a car's specifications as well as other technical details. However, it may not be used as an alternative to an Alaska license lookup which provides details of a vehicle's history and ownership. VIN lookup's are crucial for used car buyers when determining the market value of a car, law enforcement that ensure motor vehicle safety, and all other persons seeking information regarding a vehicle's title.

How to Conduct a VIN Lookup in Alaska

The means for conducting a VIN lookup in Alaska primarily depends on the type of vehicle concerned. For instance, individuals who want to retrieve details of unrepaired cars affected by vehicle safety recalls can use the VIN Search tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. A requester who wants to access a vehicle’s theft and salvage records can use the VINCheck tool on the National Insurance Crime Bureau website. Also, Alaska residents who want to access vehicle history reports can use third-party databases approved by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). A VIN lookup can be done in person at the car dealer or manufacturer’s office. Requesters would have to provide details about the vehicle, like the vehicle’s model and make, to facilitate the search.

Alternatively, a VIN lookup in Alaska can be done on third-party aggregate databases. Requesters may have to pay a small fee to retrieve VIN information. Note that VIN information obtained from third-party websites cannot be used for official purposes.

How Do I Look Up a VIN Number for Free in Alaska?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) allows Alaska car owners to look up their VINs via their VINCheck tool for free. Requesters can use this free tool to determine vehicle theft or salvage status. Here is how to look up a VIN for free on the NICB website:

  • Scroll down on the NICB website, locate the VINCheck tool, and click on it
  • Enter VIN
  • Check the terms and conditions box
  • Check the reCAPTCHA box
  • Click on SEARCH VIN to conduct the search

The search result will reveal a vehicle's theft and total loss records. Individuals can also find VINs for free in person at car dealers' or manufacturers' offices. There are third-party websites that provide VIN lookup services for free.

What is a Vehicle Identification Number in Alaska?

In Alaska, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique 17-character string of numbers and letters that manufacturers assign to every motor vehicle. A VIN is usually printed in a single line without intervening spaces or the letters I (i), Q (q), and O (o). Each digit of the VIN provides specific information about the vehicle, including the model year, country of manufacture, vehicle make and model, and serial number. The best place to find a VIN is on the vehicle parts. They are commonly located under the hood, driver’s side interior dash, driver’s side door pillar, and front end of the frame.

How is a VIN Number Used?

The primary use of a VIN is for motor vehicle identification. However, the following individuals can use VIN for other purposes:

  • Car buyers can use VIN to retrieve the history report of a used vehicle before making their purchase decision.
  • Alaska law enforcement officers can use VIN to check the identity of lost or stolen vehicles.
  • Car collectors can use VIN to identify rare or valuable vehicles and their special features.
  • Car manufacturers use VINs to send out recall notices.
  • Car dealers use VINs to track inventory.
  • Digital marketers use VINs to market vehicles by linking dealer inventory to online shoppers.
  • The Alaska Divisions of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses VINs to maintain detailed vehicle records and issue residents' ownership and registration documents.
  • Car mechanics use VINs when servicing customers' cars to gather information about the vehicle's vital components.

Who Issues a Vehicle's VIN Number in Alaska?

In Alaska, the vehicle manufacturer assigns VINs to new cars. However, there are certain situations where the Alaska Department of Administration Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office can assign VINs to vehicles. Contact any of the Alaska DMV office locations for more information regarding that.

How Many Digits are in a VIN?

Before 1981, Alaska VINs varied in length from 11 to 17 characters. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established that all vehicles should have a standardized 17-digit VIN. These 17-digit numbers and letters are assigned to a car by an automobile manufacturer. The 17 digits and capital letters in a VIN provide basic information about a vehicle. For instance:

  • The first three digits in a VIN represent the world manufacturer identifier (WMI). The first digit represents the county of origin (where the car was built), the second digit represents the manufacturer, and the third digit, combined with the first two digits, represents the vehicle type or manufacturing division.
  • The next five digits (digits 4 to 9) are the vehicle descriptor section. They provide information like the vehicle’s model, restraint system, body type, transmission type, and engine code.
  • The ninth digit represents the check digit which is a security code generated by the manufacturer to verify the authenticity of the VIN.
  • The tenth to seventeenth digits represent the vehicle identifier section. The 10th digit represents the car’s model year, the 11th digit represents the plant code, and the final six digits (12 to 17) are the vehicle’s serial number.

How to Find Your Car’s VIN Number

A VIN is a 17 unique code of numbers and letters that contains a lot of important information related to a particular vehicle. Generally, a VIN can be located on the car and vehicle-related paperwork. The most common places to find a car’s VIN are:

  • The driver’s side dashboard
  • The driver’s side door frame
  • The front of the car’s frame
  • Lower left of a car's windshield
  • Underneath the car’s spare tire
  • The rear wheel well
  • the chassis frame or behind the front wheel
  • Front of the engine block
  • Under the hood of the car near the engine
  • Under the front grille of the car
  • Boot or the trunk area
  • Vehicle title documents
  • Vehicle registration card
  • Owner’s manual
  • Vehicle insurance policy documents or card
  • Body shop repair records
  • Police reports
  • Foot well of the front seat on either the driver or passenger’s side

Car owners who cannot find their VINS in the above-mentioned locations can call their car dealers or manufacturers to inquire about where their VINs are located. They might be required to provide the make and model of their vehicles to facilitate the process. Motorcycle owners may find their motorcycle VINs on the steering neck underneath the handlebars.

How to Use the VIN Decoder to Do a VIN Number Check

A car owner can use the VIN Decoder tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to do a VIN check. Requesters would have to enter the full VIN into NHTSA’s VIN decoder and then click Decode VIN to conduct the search. A model year can also be provided to facilitate the search. Requesters should expect to retrieve the following vehicle details depending on the type of vehicle:

  • Manufacturer
  • DBAs
  • Vehicle type
  • Model year
  • Make
  • Model
  • Body class
  • Vehicle image
  • Series
  • Trim
  • Gross vehicle weight rating
  • Axles
  • Engine displacement (l)
  • Axle configuration
  • Drive type
  • Cylinders
  • Primary fuel type
  • Engine model
  • Secondary fuel type
  • Electrification level
  • Engine brake (HP)
  • Engine manufacturer
  • Transmission speed
  • Transmission style
  • Airbag details like the front, knee, side, curtain, and seat
  • Plant information

Note that the vehicle information displayed through the NHTSA’s VIN decoder is obtained from vehicle manufacturers. Hence, requesters can forward their inquiries to the vehicle manufacturers.

How to Conduct a VIN Lookup by License Plate in Alaska

An eligible person can conduct a VIN lookup by license plate in Alaska at the State Department of Administration Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. To conduct this lookup, the requester must submit a Request for Research or Verification of Motor Vehicle Record to the DMV Research office located at:

Division of Motor Vehicles Research
3901 Old Seward Highway, Ste 101
Anchorage, AK 99503
Fax: (907) 269-5202

Eligible requesters are required to provide vehicle information, including license plate number, vehicle owner names, and vehicle year, make, model, body style, and color to facilitate the search. Request for vehicle records attracts a $10 fee per copy.

What is a VIN Inspection in Alaska?

A VIN inspection in Alaska is a physical examination of a vehicle to verify that the vehicle’s VIN matches the vehicle's registration or title document. VIN inspections are typically performed by Alaska DMV-approved inspectors (a representative of the DMV or law enforcement officer). Alaskans who find themselves in the following situations are required to verify their vehicle histories and VINs at the DMV office:

A VIN inspection can be done at any local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office during office hours. An appointment must be scheduled before visiting a DMV office.

How Much is a Vehicle Inspection in Alaska?

Per AK Admin Code 18 AAC 52.020, a vehicle inspection certificate costs $20 per copy. A replacement certificate also costs $20. The cost of an I/M test is $50, and an I/M certificate costs $18. Note that this may vary; hence contact the relevant DMV to inquire about vehicle inspection costs before scheduling an appointment.

What is a Vehicle Inspection Report in Alaska

A vehicle inspection report is a serially numbered printed document issued by an Alaska DMV-approved inspector to indicate whether the vehicle has passed or failed emission and diagnostics tests. A vehicle inspection report usually contains a detachable inspection certificate.

What Does a Vehicle History Report Contain?

A vehicle history report provides a window into a vehicle’s past. It typically contains vehicle information regarding car ownership, accident history, title status, mileage, service history, and recalls. Individuals who want to purchase used cars use vehicle history reports to review the overall condition of vehicles before making purchase decisions.

How to Conduct a VIN Verification in Alaska

A VIN verification can be conducted at local DMV offices. A car owner can print out a Verification of Vehicle form from the Alaska DMV website before going to any DMV office or request one at the office. Supporting documents may be required depending on the situation of the vehicle. For instance, a person must submit registration and titling documents to verify the VIN of an abandoned vehicle. In contrast, a certificate of title or bill of sale documents must be submitted to verify the VIN of a homebuilt vehicle.

Can I Lookup My Vehicle Specs by VIN Number?

Yes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a free VIN Decoder tool that a user can use to look up the specs of a vehicle by VIN. To use this tool, the user must input a VIN and model year in the search boxes provided. A requester should expect to know a vehicle’s specifications, like the manufacturer’s name, vehicle type, model year, make, model, body class and image, airbag details, engine replacement, and plant information after the search.

Can I Check My VIN Number Online in Alaska?

Yes. A requester can use the online tool on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to check their VIN. Alternatively, the National Insurance Crime Bureau has a VINCheck tool that can be used to check VINs online. Some car dealers and manufacturers have databases where interested persons can check VINs online.

Can You Track a Car by VIN Number in Alaska?

Yes. The owner of a stolen or missing vehicle can use VIN to find its location history. A good place to start is to use the free public VINCheck database provided by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) to track the car. Alternatively, the car owner can call the DMV office around their area to report the stolen or missing vehicle. The DMV staff would request the car’s VIN and other relevant details to speed up recovery.

Can You Tell Engine Size by VIN Number?

Yes, anyone can tell an engine size by a particular vehicle's VIN, provided they know how to read a VIN. A VIN is a 17-character code usually located on vehicle parts or vehicle-related documents like an auto insurance card, title document, and owner’s manual. A vehicle's engine size is usually the eight-digit in a VIN. Car owners can use several online tools to decode their vehicles’ engine sizes using VINs. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a VIN Decoder tool that can be used to retrieve basic information encoded in a vehicle’s VIN. The tool allows requesters to search vehicle details, including engine size, by providing the vehicle’s VIN.



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