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What-is-a-VIN-and-What-Does-It-Say-about-Your-Car

Where to Find Your Car’s VIN

Your car’s VIN can be found in several places on your car. The following are the most common places a vehicle’s VIN is located:

  1. On a plaque located near the lower left of the windshield
  2. A sticker or plaque inside the driver’s door frame or on the door itself
  3. Under the hood, near the front of the engine

Some cars may have the VIN stamped in additional locations, such as the steering column, wheel arch or etched onto the windows.

VIN Decoder

Notice I didn’t say VIN Number Decoder, since the "N" in VIN stands for Number, making a second "Number" redundant. The term "Number" is also a bit of a misnomer as there are 17 positions in a VIN consisting of both numbers and letters. When reading a VIN, keep in mind that a valid Vehicle Identification Number will never include and I, O or Q. Also, a U, Z or number 0 will never appear in the 10th position which identifies the model year.

A VIN can be broken down into three groups, each containing more specificity about a car than the last. The first group is referred to as the World Manufacturer Identifier. The second is the Vehicle Descriptor Section. Last is the Vehicle Identifier Section.

VIN decoder: World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI Code)

The first three positions of a VIN identify the manufacturer of the vehicle. The first character designates the region in which the manufacturer is located. The second position, in combination with the first, tells you in which country the vehicle was made.

The digit in the third position designates what type of vehicle it is (car, truck, bus, etc). Each car maker uses different codes in the third position, so in order to find out what that particular digit means you need to ask each indidividual maker. For manufacturers producing fewer than 500 cars per year, the digit in the third position is always a 9.

VIN Decoder: Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS)

VIN positions 4 through 9 give detailed information about the vehicle itself, such as model, engine, body style and platform. Each manufacturer uses their own coding for the Vehicle Descriptor Section. The only semi-standard digit is position 9. For all vehicles produced in North America, the 9th position serves as a check digit. Many manufacturers include a check digit in their VINs, despite the fact that outside of North America, it isn’t compulsory.

Vin decoder: vehicle identifiersection (vis)

The 10th position indicates the vehicle’s model year. Notice that between 1980 and 2039, each year letter or number are repeated. To tell the difference between a VIN for a 1980 and a 2010, look at the VIN’s 7th digit. If the 7th position is a number,then the vehicle was made prior to 2010. A letter means it’s a model year between 2010 and 2039.

What is a VIN and What Does It Say about Your Car?
 

DIGIT 10

YEAR

DIGIT 10

YEAR

DIGIT 10

YEAR

DIGIT 10

YEAR

A

1980

S

1995

A

2010

S

2025

B

1981

T

1996

B

2011

T

2026

C

1982

V

1997

C

2012

V

2027

D

1983

W

1998

D

2013

W

2028

E

1984

X

1999

E

2014

X

2029

F

1985

Y

2000

F

2015

Y

2030

G

1986

1

2001

G

2016

1

2031

H

1987

2

2002

H

2017

2

2032

J

1988

3

2003

J

2018

3

2033

K

1989

4

2004

K

2019

4

2034

L

1990

5

2005

L

2020

5

2035

M

1991

6

2006

M

2021

6

2036

N

1992

7

2007

N

2022

7

2037

P

1993

8

2008

P

2023

8

2038

R

1994

9

2009

R

2024

9

2039

The final seven positions, 11 through 17, provide additional specificity about the vehicle, such as assembly plant, options, trim level,transmission and production sequence number. Again, the meaning of these individual digits vary by manufacturer. To get all of the detailed information regarding a specific VIN, there are various VIN decoders available online. Some, like CarFax and AutoCheck charge a fee, but they provide the most detailed info.

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