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Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Information

What is a VIN?

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique number (consisting of numerals and letters) assigned to a vehicle by the manufacturer primarily for registration and identification purposes. Every vehicle manufactured since 1981 has a 17 character VIN. When decoded, each character of the VIN identifies specifics about that particular vehicle. For example, make, model, year, body style, engine size, etc.

Where can I find the VIN?

The VIN can be found by looking at the dashboard on the driver side of the vehicle. If the VIN can not be found, open the driver side door and look at the door post (where the door latches when it is closed). It is likely that the VIN will also be displayed in this location.

What if the VIN is not 17 characters long?

If the VIN is not 17 characters long, please double-check to make sure that you have copied it down correctly. If the result of a second look is that the VIN is still less than 17 characters long, the VIN is most likely from a pre-1981 vehicle.

Pre 1981 Vehicles?

Prior to 1981, VINs varied in length from 11 to 17 characters. Information on vehicles manufactured before 1981 is limited.

What Type of Information is Available Online? 

Vehicle History Reports

The internet provides information pertaining to a vehicle's title, registration and usage history. Each report displays the results of our comprehensive search for: major accident damage; salvage or junk vehicles; damage from hail, flood or fire; mileage discrepancies or odometer rollback; gray market vehicles (vehicles manufactured for non-US markets that may not comply with emission and/or safety standards.); lemon vehicles; vehicles designated as rentals, taxis or fleet usage; abandoned or forfeited vehicles; records of theft; liens that represent ownership interests or unpaid judgments.  Click on the link above to obtain a vehicle history report.

How to Decode your VIN Number

The first three characters shall uniquely identify the manufacturer, make and type of vehicle (with the same exception of manufacturers that produce less than 500 vehicles). Effectively, this is the WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier). There are indeed examples of manufacturers who have more than one WMI that use the third character as a code for a vehicle category (for instance buses and/or trucks).

The second section consists of five characters (VIN positions 4-8) and identify the attributes of the vehicle. For each type of vehicle (passenger cars, MPV's, trucks, buses, trailers, motorcycles, incomplete vehicles other than trailers), different information is required. For cars, MPV's and light trucks it is required that the first two characters of this section are alphabetic, the third and fourth shall be numeric and the fifth alphanumeric.

The third section consists of one character which is the check digit, calculated over the other 16 characters of the VIN. This character can be numeric or the letter X.

The fourth VIN number guide section consists of eight characters on positions 10-17 of the VIN. The last five will be numeric for cars, MPV's and light trucks and the last four will be numeric for all other vehicles. The first character represents the vehicle model year, the second character represents the plant of manufacture. The third through eighth characters are a sequential production number (for manufacturers producing more than 500 vehicles per year). For other manufacturers, the sixth, seventh and eight position represent the sequential production number.


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