How to do a QUICK stolen car check with your phone and OBD2 scanner


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If you are considering buying a used vehicle, the first thing that you must do is perform a stolen car check! Just in the United States alone, car scams amount to a total of $30 billion per year. 

There are various tools or reports that you can use to detect if a vehicle is stolen. Nevertheless, car scammers can easily falsify a vehicle history report and even change the car’s parts to defraud people.

With the Carly OBD2 scanner and app you can conduct a reliable stolen car check extremely quickly from your phone, and you don’t even need to be a car expert!

The Carly OBD2 scanner will read out the original VIN that is stored in the car’s ECUs software. So there is no way that you’ll get scammed if you use the Carly scanner!

Below we will show you how to check if a vehicle is stolen and avoid becoming part of a car scam! All without the need of a car expert, confusing reports, or expensive equipment.

What is a VIN?

VIN stands for “vehicle identification number”. In the case of stolen cars, car dealers may remove or alter the original VIN number to a fake one. 

So it’s important to check that the original VIN registered in the car’s ECUs software corresponds with the VIN stamped on the vehicle.

The VIN consists of a series of 17 numbers and letters that represents a car’s unique identity. There are 4 places where you can look for a car’s VIN:

  1. Bottom right corner of the windshield (seen from the outside)
  2. Driver’s door frame, in the middle or bottom
  3. Under the hood stamped on the front or top of the engine block (common for gasoline cars)
  4. On the front end on the engine frame (common for older cars)

Stolen cars are more common than you think!

things to check before buying a used car

Even though law enforcement agencies and anti-theft programs have increased the prevention of vehicle theft, thieves are constantly devising new ways of stealing and selling cars.

In fact, according to, the number of vehicle thefts increased from 799,644 in 2019 to 873,080 in 2020 in the United States.

Moreover, different legal measures may apply to you depending on your country and state if you buy a stolen car.

If you unknowingly purchase a stolen vehicle, then you will most likely lose the car and your money. However, if you knowingly buy a stolen car you might even get arrested. 

Therefore, it is crucial that you perform an inspection and uncover if you are purchasing a stolen car or not.

The two steps of a stolen car check

Once you have your Carly OBD2 scanner and app license you are ready to find out if a used car is stolen!

Setting up the Carly OBD2 scanner and app is fairly easy and will only take you a couple of minutes! All you have to do is plug the scanner into the car’s OBD2 port, open the Carly app and pair it to your car! Below, we have detailed instructions to guide you through it. 

Step 1: Run a ‘used car check’ in the Carly app

Go to the Carly app, click over “used car check” and run the test. Once you run the used car test, we can start checking out all the information about the car! 

Your screen will look like the image below.

Note: In case that the car has been illegally manipulated, the Carly app will also notify you! Here you can find out more about detecting odometer fraud.

Step 2: Verify the original VIN

In the Carly app, click over “Vehicle identification numbers (VIN)” to conduct a quick VIN check. This way you will be able to see the car’s original VIN.

You can then compare the VIN shown on the Carly app to the VIN that is stamped on your car and registered in the car’s sales report. 

If the VINs do not match the VIN shown in the Carly app, then someone has altered the car’s VIN and it is highly likely that it is a stolen car.

If the stamped VIN on the vehicle does not match the one shown on the Carly app there are two reasons why this could be happening.

First, it can be due to an amateur repair where the part showing the VIN has been replaced for a used one. If this is the case, the worst case that can happen is that the part is not suited for that vehicle.

Or, the reason for not having matching VINs is that the car is stolen and the stamped VINs have been physically altered. If this is the case we advise you not to purchase the car since you might be part of a fraudulent sale.

Why use the Carly scanner for a stolen car check? 

The most affordable and convenient solution for having in-depth insights about a used car is to have your own OBD2 scanner!

Carly OBD Scanner
Carly OBD Scanner

However, you need to be aware that most scanners on the market do not offer advanced features such as a used car check.

Most only offer OBD-level diagnostics. This means that they can only show you generic OBD fault codes from the engine and in some cases transmission ECUs. 

Carly OBD2 Scanner and App

With an OBD2 scanner and app that also offers a “used car check” function, such as Carly, you will be able to get the FULL picture of the internal state of the car plus other hidden information.

With the Carly app you can see the car’s information from your phone, and if you get a Carly license you will have full access to all of the advanced features.

Depending on your car model, with the Carly app you can:

  • Conduct OBD diagnostics
  • Conduct manufacturer-level diagnostics
  • Read and clear fault codes
  • Code your car 
  • Conduct a used car check
  • See real-time parameters
  • Do basic maintenance

Additionally, with the same Carly scanner, you can conduct as many “used car checks” as you want, and on as many cars that you want. Every check will only take a few minutes and you will instantly know if you are purchasing a legit used car or a stolen vehicle!

Setting up your Carly OBD2 scanner and app!

The Carly OBD2 scanner can be used with any car brand in the world that has an OBD2 port. Usually, most cars manufactured after 1996 (in the USA) have an OBD2 port installed.

However, since every car’s electronics are unique, which specific Carly features you’ll be able to access will depend on your car model. Here you can check what features are available for a specific vehicle model!

Once you have your Carly OBD2 scanner and app license you are ready to perform in-depth inspections.

Before performing a used car check you must first set up the Carly equipment. And luckily this is very easy! 

STEP 1) First, open the Carly app on your phone.

STEP 2) Next, plug the Carly scanner into the car’s OBD port and turn on the engine. The car’s OBD port can usually be found under the steering wheel on the left side. 

Where is the OBD2 port in my BMW 3 E90 (2005-2013)

Here you can find the location of the OBD port for your car model. Otherwise, you can also ask the car seller where the OBD port is located or find it in the car’s manual.

STEP 3) Turn on your phone’s Bluetooth and click the orange button that says “connect” in the Carly app. 

As seen in the image below, Carly will establish a connection between your phone and the OBD scanner. Afterward, you will immediately have full access to the car’s information in the Carly app.

How to save even more money with the Carly scanner

In addition to using the Carly scanner and app to detect stolen vehicles and save thousands of dollars on car scams, you can use it to save money on future car maintenance!

OBD2 codes

By conducting a car health check every month with the Carly app, you can save up to $500 yearly.  The car health checks will tell you if your car needs immediate repair. Or if a warning light on your dashboard is something that doesn’t require a car technician to fix.

Additionally, you can avoid unexpected costly repairs at the mechanic since you can check on your car’s health. Conducting consistent checks can help you budget for future repairs, and take action as soon as your car requires it.

Lastly, if you are a car enthusiast like us you can also use the same Carly OBD2 scanner to customize your car through car coding or see the real-time parameters from your car!

Now that you know how to detect if the car you are buying is stolen, you are fully equipped to start your vehicle search! Are you ready?

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.

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