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What is a VIN number?

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique 17-digit alphanumeric code that is assigned to every motor vehicle at the time of manufacture. Its primary function is to serve as the vehicle's fingerprint and to identify and track a specific vehicle throughout its lifespan. Free VIN Decoder & Lookup The VIN provides critical information about the vehicle, including the make, model, year, engine type, and country of origin. Additionally, it includes details such as the manufacturer code, vehicle features, and production number. The VIN is also utilized to track the vehicle's history, including any accidents, thefts, or damages reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As a result, the VIN is an essential piece of information for vehicle owners, buyers, and sellers. It ensures that the vehicle is accurately identified and facilitates easy access to vital information about the vehicle's past.


How to Find the VIN

Where can the VIN be found on a car?

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on a car can usually be found in various locations depending on the make and model of the vehicle. The most common places to locate the VIN include:

On a Car:

  • On the dashboard, typically on the driver's side of the vehicle and visible through the windshield (most common).
  • On the driver's side door jamb, usually found on a sticker or metal plate.
  • On the vehicle's registration or insurance documents.
  • On the engine block or transmission.
  • On the vehicle frame, under the hood, or on the suspension components.
Where to Find VIN Number on a Car

It's important to note that the VIN is stamped into into the metal chassis of the car. Therefore, it will not rub off or wear away like a sticker, and will stay with that vehicle for life. It is always recommended to double-check the VIN in multiple locations, especially when purchasing a used car, to ensure that the VIN matches on all the documents and the car itself.

Other places (not in the vehicle):

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can typically be found in several locations that are not on the vehicle itself, including:

  1. On the vehicle's registration and title documents: the VIN will be listed on the vehicle's registration and title documents. This is the most common way to find the VIN for a vehicle that's not readily accessible.
  2. On the vehicle's insurance policy: the VIN will also be listed on the vehicle's insurance policy.
  3. On the vehicle's service records: many auto repair shops and dealerships will also have the VIN on file if the vehicle has been serviced at their location.
  4. On the vehicle's loan/lease documents: if the vehicle is financed or leased, the VIN will be listed on the loan or lease documents.
  5. On the vehicle's warranty or recall documents: if the vehicle is still under warranty or has been recalled, the VIN will be listed on the warranty or recall documents.

How long is a VIN number?

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique 17-digit code assigned to every manufactured vehicle. The VIN is a combination of letters and numbers that adhere to a standardized format established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1981. The standard VIN format comprises 17 characters, divided into three sections:

  1. The first three characters of a VIN, also known as the "World Manufacturer Identifier" (WMI), identify the vehicle's manufacturer and the country or geographical area where it was produced.
  2. The next six characters, also known as the "Vehicle Attributes" (VA), provide details about the vehicle, such as the model, body style, engine type, and restraint system.
  3. The last eight characters, also known as the "Vehicle Identifier Section" (VIS), provide specific information about the vehicle, including the production number and check digit.

What do all the characters in your vehicle's VIN stand for?

Each character in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) has a specific meaning and represents specific information about the vehicle. Here is a breakdown of the 17 characters in a VIN and what they stand for:

JTMWF4DV8C5047998
  1. The first character identifies the country or geographical area where the vehicle was manufactured.
  2. The second character identifies the manufacturer of the vehicle.
  3. The third character identifies the type or manufacturing division.
  4. The fourth through eighth characters provide information about the vehicle's model, body style, engine type, and restraint system.
  5. The ninth character is a check digit used to verify the accuracy of the VIN.
  6. The tenth character identifies the model year of the vehicle.
  7. The eleventh character identifies the plant where the vehicle was manufactured.
  8. The twelfth through seventeenth characters provide information about the specific vehicle, such as the production number.

It is worth noting that not all information about a vehicle is included in the VIN. For example, details such as the car's color, options, or equipment are not typically included. Therefore, it is always advisable to obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report from a reputable provider and to have a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle before making a purchase decision.

What does the first character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The first character in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) represents the country or geographical area where the vehicle was manufactured. This character is part of the "World Manufacturer Identifier" (WMI) and is used to identify the country or geographical area where the vehicle was manufactured. The meaning of this character varies depending on the ISO 3779 standard. Here are some examples of what the first character can represent:

Code Country
1, 4, and 5 United States
2 Canada
3 Mexico
J Japan
K Korea
S United Kingdom
W Germany
Y Sweden
Z Italy

It's worth noting that the list above is not comprehensive as many other countries also use the VIN standard. It's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer or consult our VIN decoder website to confirm the meaning of the first character in your vehicle's VIN.

What does the second character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The second character in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) represents the manufacturer of the vehicle, or the "manufacturer identifier". This character is part of the "World Manufacturer Identifier" (WMI) and is used to identify the manufacturer of the vehicle.

The manufacturer identifier is assigned by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and it is a letter or number that represents the specific manufacturer. It is assigned to the manufacturer and is unique to them, meaning that no two manufacturers will have the same identifier.

For example, in vehicles manufactured in the United States, the second character of the VIN can be:

Code Manufacturer
A Audi
B BMW
C Cadillac
D Dodge
F Ford
Code Manufacturer
G General Motors
H Honda
J Jeep
L Lincoln
M Mercedes-Benz
Code Manufacturer
P Porsche
R Rolls-Royce
S Suzuki
T Toyota
V Volkswagen

It's worth noting that the list above is not comprehensive as many other manufacturers also use the VIN standard. Therefore, it's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer or consult our VIN decoder tool to confirm the meaning of this character.

​​​What does the third character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The third character in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) represents the vehicle's type or manufacturing division. This character is part of the "World Manufacturer Identifier" (WMI) which is used to identify the manufacturer of the vehicle and the country or geographical area where it was manufactured. The meaning of this character varies depending on the manufacturer and country of origin.

For example, in vehicles manufactured in the United States, the third character usually represents the vehicle's type or manufacturing division. However, the meaning of this character can be different for vehicles manufactured in other countries. For example, in vehicles manufactured in Europe , the third character usually represents the vehicle's model range. It's always a good idea to check with the manufacturer or consult a VIN decoder website to confirm the meaning of this character.

What do the fourth through eighth characters in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The fourth through eighth characters in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) provide information about the vehicle's model, body style, engine type, and restraint system. These characters are known as the "Vehicle Attributes" (VA) and are used to identify the specific features of a vehicle.

The meaning of these characters varies depending on the manufacturer and the specific vehicle model. These characters can include a combination of letters and numbers that indicate the vehicle's model, body style, engine type, and other features. For example, the fourth character might indicate the vehicle's model, the fifth character might indicate the vehicle's body style, the sixth character might indicate the engine type, and so on.

It's worth noting that the meaning of these characters may not be the same for all manufacturers and vehicles.

What does the ninth character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The ninth character in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a check digit that serves to verify the accuracy of the VIN. The check digit is calculated using a specific algorithm that takes into account the other characters in the VIN. It is a single-digit number that can be a value from 0 to 9 or the letter X. The check digit is used to ensure that the VIN has not been altered.

What does the tenth character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The tenth character in a vehicle's VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) represents the year of the vehicle. However, the specific meaning of the tenth character can vary depending on the VIN format used by the manufacturer. In the North American VIN system, which is used by most automakers, the tenth character represents the model year of the vehicle. The character can be a number (0-9) or a letter (A-Y, excluding I, O, and Q), with each symbol representing a specific year. For example, "A" represents 1980, "B" represents 1981, "C" represents 1982, and so on. It's important to note that the model year represented by the tenth character is not always the same as the year the vehicle was actually manufactured or sold. Instead, it represents the year in which the vehicle's design was finalized or received a significant update. For example, a vehicle with a VIN that has a "M" as its tenth character could have been produced and sold anytime between 2021 and 2022, depending on the manufacturer's production cycle.

CodeYearCodeYearCodeYearCodeYearCodeYear
A1980M199122002D2013R2024
B1981N199232003E2014S2025
C1982P199342004F2015T2026
D1983R199452005G2016V2027
E1984S199562006H2017W2028
F1985T199672007J2018X2029
G1986V199782008K2019Y2030
H1987W199892009L202012031
J1988X1999A2010M202122032
K1989Y2000B2011N202232033
L199012001C2012P202342034

What does the eleventh character in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The eleventh character in a vehicle's VIN is a plant code, also known as a "manufacturing identifier". It represents the factory where the vehicle was manufactured. It is a letter or number that corresponds to a specific manufacturing facility. The plant code is used to identify the factory where the vehicle was built and also to identify the specific production line within that factory. The plant code is assigned by the automaker, and it may vary by country or manufacturer.

What do the twelfth through seventeenth characters in a vehicle's VIN stand for?

The twelfth to the seventeenth characters in a vehicle's VIN are the "vehicle attributes" or "serial number" of the vehicle. They are used to identify a specific vehicle within a model year and plant. They can be a combination of letters and numbers, and they represent things like the vehicle's specific trim level, engine type, and production sequence number. These characters are unique to each vehicle and are used to identify it specifically. The exact meaning of these characters may vary by manufacturer, so it's best to check with the specific manufacturer for more information.

Why is the VIN important?

The VIN serves several important purposes, including:

  1. Vehicle identification: the VIN is used to identify a specific vehicle and distinguish it from other vehicles.
  2. Vehicle history: the VIN can be used to track a vehicle's history, including information such as previous owners, service records, and accident history.
  3. Stolen vehicle recovery: if a vehicle is reported stolen, law enforcement can use the VIN to locate and recover the vehicle.
  4. Warranty and recall information: the VIN can be used to determine if a vehicle is still under warranty and if any recalls have been issued for the vehicle.
  5. Title and registration: the VIN is used to verify a vehicle's ownership and is needed for title and registration purposes.
  6. Safety and emissions standards: the VIN is used to ensure that a vehicle meets safety and emissions standards.

In summary, the VIN is an important tool for tracking a vehicle's history, verifying its identity, and ensuring that it meets safety and emissions standards. It helps prevent fraud and facilitates the recovery of stolen vehicles.

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