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 |  Jun 07 2010, 7:05 PM

If you’re on the go and looking to do a little homework on that used car you’re thinking of buying, then InstaVIN is for you. A new text-message-based accident-history report search system, InstaVIN is free for a limited time and works along the same lines as CarFax.

Here’s how it works: customers text a car’s vehicle identification number to InstaVIN, and within a few seconds, you get a report on that car’s accident history. You also get pricing information that is culled from data using recent transaction and the accident history reports. Claiming to be more accurate than a CarFax report, it also comes at a cheaper price (CarFax’s accident, service and other car history data will run you about $34.99. MobileTrac, the company behind InstaVIN, charges $1.99 for accident reports and $6.99 vehicle history reports).

Says MobileTrac CEO Jim Irish: “Our data is delivered in real time, so unlike CarFax, we don’t collect data sources and update it four times a year. We ping all of our data sources within seconds and get back what the report. CarFax does not do that. They buy data and update it quarterly.”

And it helps that InstaVIN is easy to use. This patent-pending service allows you to text the last eight digits of a vehicle’s VIN number to “INSTA” or 46782, and you’ll instantly receive an accident history report via SMS messaging. It works with SMS text messaging on virtually all phones and carriers and is not limited to a particular phone application. It’s great for dealers too, as it allows instant access to real-time information that is updated continuously, and it includes a “Vehicle Valuator” guide, featuring real-time vehicle values with available inventory, based on local market data.

The trial offer ends June 30, so give it a test drive for free while you still can. To try the text-message reporting just sent a VIN to 46782 and they’ll send you one free report.