Verifying a motorcycle title and VIN is a lot easier than it used to be. There are hundreds of comments on forums and websites from people looking for a Carfax type of service to provide free motorcycle VIN and history information.
Answer These Questions to Avoid Problems When Buying a Used Motorcycle
You can run into many problems purchasing a used motorcycle. Some of the more important questions are:
- Is the motorcycle stolen?
- Is there a lien on the title?
- Was the motorcycle crashed and rebuilt?
- Was the motorcycle totaled for any reason?
- Is the title legitimate?
How to Check a Motorcycle VIN & Title
National Insurance Crime Bureau – free VIN check from VIN Check.
Check a motorcycle title with the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) through one of the Approved NMVTIS Providers (fees range from approximately $3 to $7 per report). The NMVTIS is operated and managed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Among other reasons, it was created to prevent the introduction or reintroduction of stolen motor vehicles into interstate commerce. Any entity that meets the NMVTIS definition of a junkyard, salvage yard, or insurance carrier is required to report specific information to NMVTIS, and the failure to report is punishable by a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation. The NMVTIS website reports title information on motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and most other vehicles. For more information, see their FAQ.
CYCLEVIN also states that they provide motorcycle history reports.
14 Tips to Avoid Title Problems When Buying a Motorcycle
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
- Call the Department of Motor Vehicles office to find out how a salvage title is marked or branded in the state which issued the title.
- Do not accept an open title! Make sure the seller’s name and information are the same as on the title. An open title is a title signed by the motorcycle owner who is not the seller. For instance, Harry Seller is selling a motorcycle with a title showing the owner as John Owner. You are purchasing the motorcycle from Harry and giving the money to Harry, but Harry purchased the motorcycle from John. Harry is reselling the motorcycle to you but never changed the title from John’s name to Harry’s.
- Do not accept a photocopy of the title.
- Never agree to receive the title at a later date.
- Make sure that the VIN on the title is the same as on the registration, the motorcycle, and the lien release, if there is one.
- Examine the VIN on the motorcycle to see if it has been removed or altered.
- Make sure that the license plate is the same as on the registration.
- Make sure that the registration is up to date.
- Check the VIN to see if the National Insurance Crime Bureau is reporting a vehicle as having a record of an insurance theft claim, and has not been recovered, or has ever been reported as a salvage vehicle by participating NICB member insurance companies.
- Call the police department to see if the motorcycle has been reported stolen.
- Call your insurance company to obtain a rate quote with the VIN of the motorcycle. You might find out from your insurance company if there is a problem.
- Call the manufacturer to obtain information about the original equipment for the motorcycle. For instance, someone may be trying to sell a Harley Davidson with a Screaming Eagle package, but it may have been an aftermarket add-on that doesn’t increase the motorcycle’s value. I had a client who thought he had a more valuable Harley Davidson with a Screaming Eagle package he purchased from a motorcycle dealer. After his motorcycle accident, I found that the motorcycle was less valuable because the Screaming Eagle package was added on by the motorcycle dealer, who was now out of business.
- Check the title to see if there is a lien holder. If there is, make sure you have a lien release and call the lien holder to verify it was paid off.
The above information is provided to help you be a more informed consumer and does not include every possibility. When looking at classified ads for motorcycles online or posting classified ads for motorcycles online, be sure to read on this site about classified ad scams. Additionally, the information provided by the services listed here should not be considered accurate if they do not find negative information about a motorcycle title. We do not guarantee any of the information provided by the VIN and motorcycle title verification services listed here.