• Richa Shetty

What is a VIN? How to Decode Your VIN in Vehicles?

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the 17-digit "name," made up of numbers and characters, that an automobile manufacturer assigns to an individual vehicle. It refers to a unique number assigned to a vehicle that contains information to describe and identify the vehicle. Vehicle identification numbers can reveal many things about automobiles, including their airbag type, country of origin, engine size, model year, vehicle type, trim level, and plant name. The VIN (sometimes known, redundantly, as the "VIN number") is the key to safety. Just enter a VIN in the free search tool from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see whether a vehicle is subject to a recall.

VIN is located on the dashboard in a location visible through the windshield, as well as, on the driver side door jam. You have probably also noticed the VIN recorded on the title, insurance, and registration of your vehicle. Know more about How to Check E-challan Status in India?

Decoding the 17 Digits of VIN:


The First 3 Digits of VIN:

  • The first digit or letter identifies the country of origin. For example, cars made in the U.S. start at 1, 4, or 5. Canada is 2, and Mexico is 3. Japan is J, South Korea is K, England is S, Germany is W, and Sweden or Finland is Y.

  • The second element in this group tells you about the manufacturer. In some cases, it's the letter that begins the manufacturer's name. For example, A is for Audi, B is for BMW, G is for General Motors, L is for Lincoln, and N is for Nissan. But that "A" can also stand for Jaguar or Mitsubishi, and an "R" can also mean Audi. It may sound confusing, but the next digit ties it all together.

  • The third digit, when combined with the first two letters or numbers, indicates the vehicle's type or manufacturing division. This Wikipedia page has a list of WMI codes. Read more about the Benefits & Types of OBD-2-Devices, On-Board Diagnostic System


Positions 4-9 (The Next Six Digits to Check):

  • Numbers 4 to 8 describe the car with such information as the model, body type, restraint system, transmission type, and engine code.

  • Number 9 is the check digit, which is used to detect invalid VINs. The number that appears varies and is based on a mathematical formula that the U.S. Department of Transportation developed. Explore more about How Does a GPS Vehicle Tracking Device Work?


The Following Group of Eight Elements (10-17) is the vehicle identifier section:

  • In the 10th position, you'll see a letter indicating the model year. The letters from B to Y correspond to the model years 1981 to 2000. The VIN does not use I, O, Q, U, or Z. From 2001 to 2009, the numbers 1 through 9 were used in place of letters. The alphabet started over from A in 2010 and will continue until 2030.\

  • Position 11 indicates the manufacturing plant where the vehicle was assembled. Each automaker has its own set of plant codes.

  • Positions 12 to 17 are the production sequence numbers, which each car receives on the assembly line.

  • Explore more about What Violations Leads you to pay E-challan? And How to Avoid It?


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