When we first entered the RV market as newbies, we considered buying a used camper. Financially it makes sense to let someone else take the depreciation hit. We were, however, apprehensive about buying a used Motorhome that we could not independently research the VIN history like we could do via CarFAX. It took a bit of sleuthing, but we were able to find some excellent FREE resources to aid in looking up RV VIN number details.
How Do I Lookup a RV VIN Number for a Motorhome? There are several free resources to lookup and research RV, Travel Trailer and Motorhome VIN numbers. VehicleHistory.com is a comprehensive resource. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides detailed recall information. NICB VINCHECK tracks total loss insurance claims.
Next I will share my in-depth review of each service referenced above along with some I do not recommend. I tested the VIN Lookup services with several types of vehicles that I own and some that I found on the internet. I ran VIN numbers for Most Types and Class of RV's including Class A, B & C, Travel Trailers, and Fifth Wheels.
An excellent FREE site we discovered is VehicleHistory.com. They perform a comprehensive search through several public databases to compile their VIN report.
The info on our Grand Design Momentum was exactly right. They nailed all details including the state where it was built, that it is a 5TH Wheel, and the length.
I ran a report on several cars and numerous campers I found on the web. The specs on engine-powered Class A, Class B and Class C RVs is detailed and accurate. The report provides a wealth of safety details about engine-driven RVs.
This is typical Class C Motorhome that I found on the web that I am using as a baseline. It is a 2019 Thor Four Winds 28A that is listed for sale as of this writing at El Monte RV in Santa Fe Springs, New Mexico.
It was interesting to see to see that a 2019 camper had 4 NHTSA recalls. When I compared the VehicleHistory report to the RV listing, I noticed that the truck chassis is actually a 2018. The Motorhome is listed as a 2019.
It is somewhat common to have an older frame with a newer body, but it is good to know this before buying.
VhicleHistory.com gets top marks from me. I was pleasantly surprised to find a VIN Lookup service that is accurate, detailed and free. If you need to research a Motorhome, Travel, Trailer, Car, Truck, Van, etc., check out VehicleHistory.com.
NHTSA Recall Database
The NHTSA Recall Database tracks vehicles that have a VIN number and are certified to drive in North America. Most vehicle manufacturers that sell vehicles in America supply recall data to the NHTSA. The main advantage of the NHTSA VIN Database is that they will show if there are any open recalls that have not been repaired.
Vehicle recall data is available through VehicleHistory and other sources, but they do not have access to the NHTSA repair database. They can only list the recalls for a make and model RV. They cannot validate if the recalls were repaired.
I ran a report on the 2019 Class C Motorhome we have been researching (VIN: 1FDXE4FS7JDC13016) through the NHTSA database. The results came back as 0 Unrepaired Recalls. This would be good news for a potential buyer. It documents that the previous owner was staying on top of recall notices.
Further maintenance records research could be performed by calling a vehicle manufacturers customer service line (e.g. FORD not THOR). Most vehicle manufacturers have access to service records that were performed by dealerships in their network.
I believe the NHTSA Recall Database is an excellent tool to have in one’s arsenal. They don’t provide as much detail as VehicleHistory, but they do show if recalls have been repaired or not. This is good information to know. You wouldn't want to be operating a RV that has a safety recall and not know about it.
NICB is the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The NICB VINCHECK database tracks vehicles that were stolen, salvaged or reported as a total loss by an Insurance Company who is a member of NICB (Most of them are).
Like the other services we have reviewed, a NICB VINCHECK is quick and easy. When I ran the THOR Four Winds we have been researching (VIN: 1FDXE4FS7JDC13016) through their database it came back clean. It hasn't had significant water damage or a questionable insurance claim.
The NICB VINCHECK doesn’t provide a lot of information, but it is good to know if a RV we are looking at was written off by an insurance company or stolen.
The Gray Adventures did an excellent job of concealing the water damage, but would you want to unknowingly buy an RV that was damaged like this one? If a seller doesn't disclose the fact that they restored a salvaged water damaged RV it is not always possible to know running a vin through NICB VINCHECK.
Unscrupulous sellers can route vehicle titles through different states to get a clean non-salvage title.
The only thing we don’t like about NICB is they provide a list of vendors below their results that all charge a fee for researching VIN numbers. It is unlikely any of them provide more information than what is available for free at VehicleHistory.
VINCheck.info is another FREE VIN search service that is similar to VehicleHistory. There site is slow, which makes it a pain to navigate. They do provide most of the info that VehicleHistory shows. The site is better looking than VehicleHistory, but their navigation is cumbersome. It takes a lot more clicks to get to the information.
We are not thrilled with the speed of VINCheck.info’s website, but the data they provide appears to be accurate. It is also nice to have another site to use in case VehicleHistory is unavailable. VINCheck.info also provides some interesting graphs that I haven't seen on the other sites. For example, they provided this ownership cost graph for our Grand Design Momentum.
VINCheck.Info estimates that it will cost $25,909 for maintenance, insurance, repairs, etc. over 5 years for a Grand Design Momentum owner. The info may not be 100% accurate — a trailer doesn’t use fuel! However, truck pulling it does. It is nice to have some numbers to look at. It can help estimate operating cost of a new RV. Keep in mind the numbers likely are not accurate.
VINCheckInfo includes an estimated value graph that appears after a search as well. This graph appears to be based on vehicles in the Kelly Blue Book. Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels aren’t listed in KBB, so the graph they pulled for our Grand Design showed no data.
I ran the Thor (VIN 1FDXE4FS7JDC13016) through the VinCheckInfo database. They show the average market value of the Ford E450, not the camper. This can be misleading for people researching RV’s. The average value they reported is $31,762. The dealer sales price for the 2019 Thor Four Winds 28A listed on RV Trader is $56,989.
Overall VINCheckInfo is a good resource to use to validate info from other VIN check websites, but the cost graphs they provide are misleading. It is nice they are there for normal automobile and truck VIN research, but I would not trust that their financial data is accurate for RV's.
VIN Lookup Services we DO NOT Recommend!
Those of you who have searched for RV VIN lookups have probably seen FaxVIN. They spend a lot of money on Google Ads to get their website into a lot of searches. When searching a VIN their website appears like it is doing something. The interstitial pages show several checks and test.
The FaxVIN service raised a red flag with me out of the gate because the vehicle info they show for results was blank. They didn’t even show the year, make or model! The problem with this is that they do not provide any identifying information to validate that a VIN was entered is correct.
The second red flag raised for me was the results section. They show items checked that looks like something was done, but the way the data is presented it is misleading. For example, the Stolen Databases show 4 checks. Other criteria shows Available. What does that mean? They are playing visual tricks to get people to buy the report!
Although I know our vehicle history I though it would be fun to buy the report so I could share the results with you. This is the actual report that came out of FaxVIN on our 2020 Momentum.
The only change I made to the PDF was redacting our VIN info. Everything else is exactly how FaxVIN sent it.
- The most obvious omission of the FaxVIN report on our Momentum is virtually all data — they did not disclose the year, that it is a trailer, length, width, etc. The info is available for VehicleHistory, but FaxVIN did not disclose it.
- The next obvious error is they reported that our trailer had 12 miles when delivered to the dealer. Trailers don’t have odometers and no mileage was listed on the Certificate of Origin that I used to get the original title!
Another big issue with the FaxVIN report on our rig is they lists 1 accident. We have not had any type of accident in our Coach. I have a perfect driving record with no accidents or tickets in decades. Outside of the number 1 accidents listed on the graph, there is no documentation provided. A Carfax report would at least provide a date and location of an accident. FaxVIN provides zero information to qualify their data.
Our beautiful brand new 2020 Grand Design Momentum also scored 42 points out of 100 on their report. If I were weighting that score as I researched RV's, I would walk from a purchase of this one.
I cannot recommend FaxVIN. The info they provided on our Coach is incomplete and inaccurate. Pay for use services have a responsibility to the community they are marketing too. They should not be selling inaccurate and misleading information to the public.
Been Verified is another paid service that looks to function basically the same as FaxVIN. They take the user through a series of web pages that make it feel like the system is searching databases. After going through a few pages we get to a landing page requiring someone to sign up for a monthly subscription service.
I didn’t sign up for Been Verified. I didn't want to get tangled up in a scheme to bill me every month forever. These types of subscription services often make it very easy to get signed up and very difficult to cancel. I cannot recommend using Been Verified due to their questionable subscription model.
If anyone has experience using BeenVerified let me know through the contact us page. It would be nice to get examples of the quality of their search results.