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How to interpret vehicle Vin Number

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The following feature was first published in the WheelsNG Journal.

Think of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as a car or truck’s DNA. It is a unique combination of 17 letters and numbers that is assigned to the vehicle when it is built and that stays with it throughout its life. The VIN is used to track the vehicle as it changes hands and as it is repaired and serviced. The VIN can be found by looking at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The easiest way to view it is to stand outside the vehicle on the driver’s side and look at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield.

VIN3_center

There are 17 numbers and letters (17 positions) in a VIN and you can divide them into three groups:

1. World Manufacturer Identifier

2. Vehicle Descriptor Section

3. Vehicle Identifier Section.

We will go through all 17 positions here so you can decode any VIN number. You will become a VIN decoding expert!

World Manufacturer Identifier

The first three letters and numbers of the VIN are the World Manufacturer Identifier.

Position 1

The very first letter or number of the VIN tells you in what region of the world your vehicle was made. Match the letter or number below to the first number or letter of your VIN to find out in what region of the world your VIN was made.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H are made in Africa
J, K, L, M, N, P, and R are made Asia
S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z are made in Europe
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are made in North America
6 and 7 are made in Oceania
8 and 9 are made in South America

Position2

The second letter or number, in combination with the first letter or number in the VIN, tells you in what country the car or truck was made. You may be surprised to know that not all Japanese cars are made in Japan and not all GM cars are made in America and so on. Anyway, cars and trucks are made in over 80 countries and there are over 600 VIN country codes. You can see all the codes and find where your car or truck was made by going to Where is my car or truck made

Position 3

The third number or letter is used by the vehicle manfacturer to identify what kind of vehicle it is. It could be a car, truck, bus and so on. Each vehicle maker uses different codes for this so go to the Automobile Manufacturer website for your vehicle to find out what the third position in the VIN means for your particular vehicle.

Vehicle Descriptor Section (vds)

Letters and numbers in positions 4 through 9 is the Vehicle Descriptor Section. This information gives detailed information about the vehicle itself.

Position 4 5 6 7 8

Here you can find out the vehicle model, engine type, body style and things like that. Each vehicle maker uses different codes for this so go to the Automobile Manufacturer for your vehicle to get the codes.

Position 9

This is the VIN Check Digit where you can use math to figure out if it is a correct VIN. It does not tell you anything about the vehicle itself.

Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS)

Letters and numbers 10 through 17 is the Vehicle Descriptor Section. This gives you information such as when it was produced, what options it comes with and so on.

Position 10

The 10th letter or number of the VIN tells you the model year of the vehicle. Note that this may be different from when it was manufactured, as many automobile manufacturers start to produce next years model this year. Find the model year by matching the 10th digit of your VIN to the table below:

A = 1980
B = 1981
C = 1982
D = 1983
E = 1984
F = 1985
G = 1986
H = 1987
J = 1988
K = 1989
L = 1990
M = 1991
N = 1992
P = 1993
R = 1994
S = 1995
T = 1996
V = 1997
W = 1998
X = 1999
Y = 2000
1 = 2001
2 = 2002
3 = 2003
4 = 2004
5 = 2005
6 = 2006
7 = 2007
8 = 2008
9 = 2009
A = 2010
B = 2011
C = 2012
D = 2013
E = 2014
F = 2015
G = 2016
H = 2017
J = 2018
K = 2019
L = 2020
M = 2021
N = 2022
P = 2023
R = 2024
S = 2025
T = 2026
V = 2027
W = 2028
X = 2029
Y = 2030
1 = 2031
2 = 2032
3 = 2033
4 = 2034
5 = 2035
6 = 2036
7 = 2037
8 = 2038
9 = 2039

As you can see, each letter or number has been assigned to two different years. To find out which one applies to your VIN, you must look at the 7th letter or number in your VIN. If the 7th VIN position is a letter, then your vehicle is made in 2010 through 2039. If the 7th VIN is a number, then your vehicle is made prior to 2010.

Position 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

This is where the auto manufacturers enter unique information about the particular vehicle the VIN belongs to. The name of the assembly plant, extra options added to the vehicle, Production Sequence Number and things of that nature. This is different from company to company, so to find more details about this go to the Automobile Manufacturer website for your vehicle.

PS. A lot of vehicle information is also available on the Window Sticker. If you have the VIN number, you can find the window sticker by using Research ManiacsVIN lookup.

SourceWheelsNG
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