How can you verify that the used car you’re buying isn’t carnapped?

Updated Dec 12, 2022 | Same topic: Best Advice for Car Buyers

Take note of these tips when shopping for a used car.

1. Risk of buying a used car

Buying a used car is probably one of the easiest ways we can get our hands on our dream car – or at least it’s something we can afford for now. Used cars are very commercial these days thanks to the internet where people can just effortlessly post their car for sale.

Since used cars can be availed of almost everywhere, there is also a set of challenges in order to own one. One of which is verifying as to whether a used car you are buying isn’t carnapped or a stolen vehicle.

A car without its wheel

Buying a stolen car will bring great inconvenience

Carnapping is probably something we have heard of at least once in our lives. It is a crime at which an individual is taking a motor vehicle belonging to another without the latter’s consent. There is an Act enacted by the government that punishes carnapping in the Philippines.

This is why it is important for you to verify a used car prior to buying it. With that being said, here are some things you can do in order to make sure the used car you are about to buy isn’t stolen.

>>> Second-hand car price: 3 steps to calculate your car’s resale value

A car without its wheels and windows

Checking the condition of a used car is a must

2. Two things to do for used car verification

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

All cars manufactured come with their own specific vehicle identification number or VIN. It functions almost like a serial number at which can be used for better identification. VIN includes numerical identification for country of manufacture, vehicle manufacturer, vehicle’s production number, and more.

A shot of a car's VIN

A VIN is like a car's fingerprint

The VIN is a 17 unique character code that can be found in some places in your car. The most common places you can locate your car’s VIN are on the dashboard, under the hood, and, driver’s side door pillar.

Knowing the VIN of a used car can help you see all the history reports of its previous owners such as accidents, repairs, and more. All events that happen in a car are recorded in its VIN code. Do a VIN check first online in order to verify the car’s real status.

>>> Related: Things you might not know about Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

LTO’s Mobile Query Facility

With the advancement of technologies, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has come up with an easy way to verify a vehicle’s status. To get started, you have to text ‘LTO VEHICLE (PLATE NUMBER)’ to 2600. After five to ten minutes, you will receive a text containing the information on the inquired vehicle.

The information given is as follows: Plate number/Make/Model/Year of Manufacturing/Color/Date Last Registered in LTO/LTO Apprehension/Records/LTO Alarm.

A LTO Mobile Query text

An easy way to verify a used car's status

LTO’s Mobile Query Facility is a more convenient way for you to get information on a specific vehicle. One of the easiest indicators you can get from LTO’s Mobile Query Facility is to find out the color. If the color of the used car you are meaning to buy is different from the said color on the LTO message, then you might want to think twice or go for another option if you don’t have time for a proper police investigation.

‘LTO Alarm’ on the text message will indicate if a car is stolen or not. If the LTO text message says that it ‘has no alarm,’ then you have a strong indicator that the used car you are about to buy is completely legal. If a car owner reports to LTO that his/her car is stolen, then it will show up in the ‘LTO Alarm’ information.

Of note, one successful message to LTO’s Mobile Query Facility will cost Php 2.50 to all cellular networks in the country and works during office hours only. It is a small price to pay to get an important piece of information.

>>> Related: Here's your checklist when buying a used car [Philkotse Guide]

3. What should I do if a used car is stolen?

Due to the rise of the online selling of cars, a bogus seller is a term we all probably heard about. It is really important to do a background check on a seller’s information as you may buy a stolen used car from them.

Plenty of cars in an area

Bring with you someone who knows well about cars when buying used cars

The seller of the used car is probably gone with the wind after you buy the seller’s stolen car. To avoid this inconvenience, report the incident to the police immediately. The last thing you want in owning a used car that is to get questioned by the police.

Simply hand the information given on the LTO Mobile Query message to the police. This way, the police will have an easier time searching for the stolen vehicle. Who knows, maybe a relative of yours may be a victim of buying a stolen used car so report these cases as much as possible.

4. FAQs about verifying that a used car isn’t carnapped

Q: How much is a used car in the Philippines?

The prices vary depending on the mileage, condition, and the model itself. If you are looking for an affordable yet reliable option, you can get a used car in the Philippines for around Php 300,000 to Php 400,000.

Q: What is the vehicle identification number (VIN)?

The vehicle identification number, or VIN, is 17 unique character code implanted on every manufactured vehicle in the world. It contains the histories and reports on a car that can be used for verification, identification, and many more.

Q: What can I do to verify if a used car isn’t stolen?

In the Philippines, there are two ways you can verify a car’s status. The first option is to do a VIN check, and the other option is through LTO’s Mobile Query Facility.

Q: Is it safe to buy a used car in the Philippines?

We can say that buying a used car is almost like a gamble. However, you can reduce the risk of you getting a bad car deal by tagging along with you someone who knows a lot about cars. You can also check out the vehicle listings in This way, you may even get a better deal out of the money you are willing to spend.

Q: What is the LTO’s Mobile Query Facility?

The LTO’s Mobile Query Facility provides individuals information regarding a specific vehicle registered in LTO. The mobile query includes vehicle information such as make, year model, color, LTO alarm, and more.

Here at, we value your interest in the automotive industry. Visit our website to find out more.

Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez


Rex Sanchez grew up in Saudi Arabia where he saw and got into the automotive scene. He started his career for an aviation company in the said region, writing about turbines and rotors which are later distributed for educational purposes. And now, he joined as a staff writer. Currently, he is the youngest on the team and is more than ready to grow in the field.


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