How to find the previous car owners by VIN number in 4 steps

Finding a car owner by VIN Number IS possible, but you will have to jump through some hoops and loops.

Before we get started, I would like to clarify that there is no magical online vehicle report online that will crank you the car’s previous owner information and contact details. Now, since we’ve gotten THAT out of the way, read on to find out how you can find the previous car owner.

Things you will need to find the Previous Car Owner:

  1. A Vin Number of the Vehicle you want to find the previous owner for.

A vin number is a MUST if you’re going to be looking for a car’s previous owner. The Vin Number can be found on the Driver’s Side Windshield, where the dashboard and Windshield. The Vin Number is usually a 17 digit number stamped on a metal plate on the inside of the windshield. If, for some reason you cannot locate it on the windshield, the Vin Number may also be found on the inside of the driver’s side door; either on the pillar, or on the door itself.

  1. Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles (aka the DMV) for the state where your car is registered.

If you’re not sure where to get started, check out the map listed below and click on your state to be taken to the DMV for the respective state. Alternatively, you can see our list of DMV Websites on THIS PAGE.

Map for the Official United States' DMV agency Websites

Ask the DMV to provide you with a copy of the previous titles of the VIN Number that you’re wanting to find the previous car owners for

  1. Request a Title Search for the vin of your car that you want to see the previous owner for.

Some State DMVs will let you do this online, however, do not be surprised if there is a fee associated with it; I’ve seen prices of $15 for this in more than one state.

  1. Once you have the title search results, you can look up the previous car’s owner information that was on the vehicle’s title.

Now, remember; Depending on how old the car that you’re looking up the information for is, you might not get the most up-to-date vehicle history. People move and/or die, and so you might not be able to find the previous car owner. At the same time, the person living there might know where the previews owner moved, or better yet, the person living at the address listed on the title MIGHT BE THE PREVIOUS OWNER. You won’t know until you try, so;

Good Luck on your search for the Previous Car Owner(s)!


  1. concepcion yanez says:

    Thanks lots for your info. I have bought a car from two people, one a car mechanic, the other his sales person. I found that the car is a salvaged car. None of them have given me that information. The air bag is not the appropriate one. Apparently the car had been in an accident that damaged the front end. I am trying to find the previous owner because I suspect that she had been ripped off just like I have been. I had taken the car back to mechanic before I found out the car is salvage because the car kept heating up(three times). Last time I took it back to the Mechanic, he said he knew what was wrong with it but that he wanted to get rid of the car as soon as possible. I hope If people read this, to take this into consideration and not trust just anybody. They were pretty nice too me when selling the car but total bastards after I had bought it. So stupid me, do not know who to file suit against.

    • Actually, it’s against the law to not disclose information about a car while selling it… You might want to remind the mechanic of that. Also, if he has a Google Maps listing, be sure to leave a review. You can also file complaints with the BBB if you’d like; at LEAST to warn other people of the shady practices of this particular mechanic.

  2. I live in Kansas, my niece worked for the DMV and she and others there said they can not give out that info nor do they go back that far anymore. Privacy act, my car is a 1967 Pontiac.does anyone have any ideas how to find previous owners. Or know anyone that does that kind of work.

    • Alan, are there no Pontiac Registries online? Your best bet to finding an owner might be to look on classic car registries like that.

      try googling “Pontiac Registry” or visit this site that claims to be the biggest Pontiac Registry (click here).

  3. Hello Administrator. I have a dunebuggy on a 1965 VW Beetle chassis. The CA DMV has 1979 in their databse. The chassis only has a nine digit VIN#: 115046657. I am having a hard time clarifying this and I need a vehicle history report to back up information that I already have. Thank you.

  4. FrustratedGirl says:

    I bought my car 6 years ago from a dealer in my town. They bought it from a dealer in another state. I went to trade my car in and the Carfax showed a huge mileage discrepancy the month before I bought it, when it was transferred from the former state to the current state. How can I find out who the last owner in that other state was? According to that state only that person can clear up the matter. The clerk really thinks it is only a clerical error. Any advice would be helpful. I’ve contacted the dealer I bought from and they said they bought from a dealer in that state but have no records of who it was. I don’t believe that.

    • That sounds a little funny that the dealership would not have records of where they bought the vehicle… It is a possibility (now, don’t quote me, but…) that the dealership that you BOUGHT from might have tweaked the mileage…

      I suggest that you DEMAND the records and if that does not work, file a claim with the BBB and maybe talk to a lawyer.

  5. hello i just bought a 2002 focus svt in california and the person that sold it to me told me he was selling it because he wwas leaving to el salvador. On the title it says that the cars owner is not the one who sold it to me but other person! what can i do to find the original owner of the car or what can i do to the guy that sold it to me lying

    • Hello Juan… At this point, there are several options that you can pursue…

      Unfortunately, there is *very* little you can do to the person that sold you the car (especially if he’s in Ecuador)… Were you able to register the car on yourself? Can you provide me with your VIN so I can check a few databases to ensure that it isn’t a stolen vehicle?

  6. Hello I just bought a motorcycle from a guy on Craigslist. The guy did not have any paper work for the bike and he was not the original owner, so he sold it to me for a reasonable price. I checked to see if the vehicle was stolen before purchasing and it came out okay. After doing some research on the bike I found out it was last registered in NY, and I bought the bike in California where I live. I also found out the bike had a lien on it, but i was able to get a lien release on the bike. I am trying to figure out how I can get a title for this bike and get it registered. The guy who sold me the bike is no longer available, his phone is disconnected. What steps would you suggest me taking?

    • Hello. If there is a lien on the motorcycle, you might be out of luck. I’m no lawyer, so I can’t give you legal advice, but my suggestion would be to possibly talk to someone at the DMV and explain your situation to see if there’s a possibility of getting the title issued for it. Some states may hold on to the title for a pre-determined amount of time but allow you to register your vehicle (or Motorcycle, in your case) in your name so that you can use it.

      Again, you’d want to check with someone from the DMV or possibly even a lawyer, just to be safe.

  7. I will surely try.Nice article.

  8. hello admin
    i love the article and also commends are very much helpful , however i have same situation but only different i did not buy the car yet!! car has reasonable price and i m looking for info how to find previous owners in that point i find the article helpful , just not sure if dmv going to give me personal information as owners name!! just because someone says up onto comments dmv does not provide personal info.
    thank you for the information you provide

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