May 26, 2016

Virginia Vehicle Identification Number
How do I get a vehicle history record on a vehicle in Virginia?

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website has a service called the Prospective Purchaser Inquiry (PPI.) With the PPI you provide the make, model and VIN and the DMV will produce a PPI summary about the vehicle. This information comes from the records of the Virginia DMV only and does not contain any person information about any of the previous owners of the vehicle.

You can get a PPI report in three different ways:

  1. Online;
  2. In person at one of the DMV customer service centers;
  3. By mail. You should fill out the “Request for Vehicle Information by a Prospective Purchaser” form and mail it, along with your $12 payment to:

    Department of Motor Vehicles

    P.O. Box 27412

    Richmond, VA 23269

    Attention: Vehicle Records Work Center

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

PPI online search

Virginia DMV customer service centers

Form-CRD-01 – Request for Vehicle Information by a Prospective Purchaser

Should you run additional VIN Checks when buying a car in Virginia?

Yes, when purchasing a vehicle you should always run a vehicle history check. The PPI report which is available from the state of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles can only give you information about vehicles which have been registered in the state of Virginia, but this will not tell you anything about the history of cars which have been registered outside of Virginia.

Another searchable database that is useful and recommend by the state of Virginia is the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. This database is mainly for cars that have been in the possession of auto recyclers, junk yards, and salvage yards. Places such as salvage yards and auto recyclers are considered easy prey for thieves, and therefore they are more heavily regulated by the government and the data to be reported is mandated, including:

  • The name, address, and contact information for the reporting entity;
  • The VIN;
  • The date the automobile was obtained;
  • The name of the person or entity from whom the automobile was obtained;
  • A statement of whether the automobile was crushed or disposed of, or offered for sale or other purposes; and
  • Whether the vehicle is to be exported out of the country.

VINCheck is also a good check to run on vehicles, as it is connected to a database which is recommended by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. NICB is a free service which allows the public to search to see if a vehicle has been reported stolen and not recovered, or if it has been reported as a salvage vehicle by a cooperating NICB insurance company. You can perform a search with a VIN number and search a maximum of five (5) searches within a 24-hour period.

There are also private companies which will run VIN checks which may cost you some money. However, in the long run it would be worth it to spend the money on a VIN check which alerts you to any possible liens currently on the car, if the car is stolen, if the car has been previously declared a lemon, or has been in a flood or a car accident in which it was declared totaled.

If you suspect fraud, you should contact the NICB in one of the following ways:

  1. Text the keyword “FRAUD” to TIP411 (847411;)
  2. Call 800-TEL-NICB;
  3. Report fraud online using the form below;
  4. Download the NICB Fraud Tips App for iPhone/iPad

If you suspect DMV-related fraud in Virginia, you should report it at 1-877-ZERO-FRAUD.


Reporting Fraud to the NICB:


Reporting Fraud to the Virginia DMV

Lemon Laws in Virginia

The Virginia Lemon Law is formally called the “Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act” and can be found in the Code of Virginia §§ 59.1-207.9 et seq.

The Virginia lemon law covers motor vehicles defined as:

  1. Passenger cars designed and used primarily for the transportation of no more than ten (10) persons including the driver;
  2. Pickup and panel trucks designed for the transportation of property and having a registered gross weight of 7,500 pounds or less;
  3. Motorcycles, mopeds, and the self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes; and
  4. Demonstrators and leased vehicles which were sold with a warranty.

The lemon law covers any vehicle which does not conform with a warranty, a defect or a condition, which significantly impairs the use, market value, or safety of the motor vehicle. The manufacturer is given a defense if it can be proven that any of the defects that are due to abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications of the vehicle by the consumer.

If you think your vehicle is a lemon then you must file a claim within 18 months of taking possession of the vehicle.

The state website suggests that you contact the Office of the Attorney General before you file a claim.

Consumer Protection Section

Office of the Attorney General

900 East Main Street

Richmond, VA 23219




Virginia Lemon Law

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society

Attorney General Office of Consumer Protection Lemon Law

Office of the Attorney General

Better Business Bureau

Should you hire an attorney for a lemon law case in Virginia?

While many consumers handle vehicles that are lemons on their own, you have the right to hire an attorney to represent you. If you choose to retain an attorney, be sure and find one who is familiar with the lemon laws in the state of Virginia and has experience working with lemon law cases.

Here are some good questions to ask before you sign a contract with an attorney:

  • Have they handled any lemon law cases previously?
  • How many lemon law cases have they won and lost?
  • Do they require payment upfront or do they work on contingency? and
  • If they work on contingency then they only get paid if you win your case, what percentage of your settlement do they get?

If you don’t know any lawyers or any lemon law attorneys you should ask for recommendations from friends and family or, do you know any other lawyers that you could ask? If not, you can contact the Virginia Bar Association Referral Service for lawyers in your area.

Virginia Attorney Referral Service

Virginia DMV
2348 York Crossing Dr
1 804-497-7100

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Select Office
1 Franklin St #100
1 804-497-7100

Virginia Beach DMV Select
2401 Courthouse Dr
1 804-497-7100

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
1629 Forest Rd
1 804-497-7100

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
106 Rucker St
1 276-694-6113

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