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What Information Does a VIN Contain? [Complete Guide]

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What is the VIN Number?

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-digit code, comprised of capital letters and numbers, that is uniquely assigned to a vehicle by the automotive industry. The VIN contains information about the vehicle’s make, model, year, engine size, and manufacturer. It is used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage, and prevent cars from being stolen or cloned. To locate a vehicle’s VIN, look on the dashboard window of the driver’s side, the driver’s side door jamb, under the hood, or above the driver’s wheel on the front end of the car’s frame.


What Information Does the VIN Contain?

1. Manufacture

The manufacturing information contained in a vehicle’s VIN consists of the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI), which is a three-digit code that indicates the country of origin and the manufacturer, as well as a two-digit code that indicates the specific division within a manufacturer. The tenth digit of a vehicle’s VIN indicates the model year, while the eleventh digit identifies the manufacturing plant. The last six digits of the VIN represent the vehicle’s serial number. Furthermore, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) assigns a WMI to countries and manufacturers, which can be used to identify the exact origin of the vehicle.

2. Model Year

The model year information is contained in the 10th digit of the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS) of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This digit is used by the manufacturer to identify the model year of the vehicle. Each manufacturer has its own code specific to its plants and where the vehicle was specifically made. The model year system starts with 1980 as A or 0, depending on the manufacturer, and goes from B to Y (2030). After that, the digits 1-9 will be used (2039) to distinguish between the model years. The letters O, I, and Q, as well as the letters U and Z, and the digit 0 are not used in the model year encoding.

3. Make

What information is contained in a Make section VIN? [Expanded list]: The Make section VIN contains three characters which show the vehicle’s manufacturer and the region where it was made. The first character, called the World Manufacturer Identifier, indicates the country the vehicle was made in. The second character indicates the car’s maker and the third character gives information on the car type when combined with the first two digits.

4. Vehicle Identification Number

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-digit code, comprised of capital letters and numbers, that uniquely identifies a vehicle. Each letter and number provide specific pieces of information about the car, such as the year, make, model, engine size, and manufacturer. The VIN serves as the car’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. It can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage.

The VIN information is sectioned out into three groups: World Manufacturer Identifier, Vehicle Descriptor Section, and the Vehicle Identifier Section. The World Manufacturer Identifier contains the country of origin and the manufacturer’s identity. The Vehicle Descriptor Section provides information such as the vehicle’s type and trim level. Finally, the Vehicle Identifier Section contains the specific serial number of the vehicle, along with its body and engine type.

With this information, a VIN can be used to access a vehicle history report, which provides important details about the vehicle’s past such as ownership, accident history, and service records.

5. Engine Type

The engine type information contained in a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is located in the fourth to ninth positions in the VIN. The eighth digit is usually the letter that indicates the engine size and type. This is helpful when buying spare parts for a car since it ensures that the parts are an exact match for the engine type. The remaining digits in the VIN provide information about the car’s model-specific features, series, body style, and trim. The ninth position is the check digit which is used to verify the accuracy of the VIN.

6. Serial Number

The serial number is the last six digits of the VIN code, located between the 11th and 17th characters, and it contains information about the individual car’s production serial number. It typically indicates the order in which the car was made in relation to other cars made by the same manufacturer, as well as the plant where it was assembled. The serial number is the vehicle’s unique identifier and allows manufacturers to track and recall specific models, should the need arise.

7. Vehicle Descriptor Section

The Vehicle Descriptor Section of a VIN (fourth through ninth digits) is used to identify specific information about a vehicle, such as its model, body type, restraint system, transmission type, engine code, and fraud detector code. It can also include information about the automotive platform, the model year (determined by the 10th digit), the car’s production serial number, and the manufacturing plant (determined by the 11th digit).

8. Check Digit

The purpose of checking the check digit on a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is to detect fraudulent VINs. The ninth digit in the VIN is the check digit, which is used to validate the VIN using a mathematical formula developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This formula includes multiplying each value in the VIN with a specific weight and adding up the products, then dividing by 11 and finding the remainder. The remainder is the check digit and if the calculated value is 0-9, the check digit must match the calculated value. If the calculated value is 10, the check digit must be X. If the two values do not match, then there is a mistake in the VIN.

9. World Manufacturer Identifier

The World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) is a three-digit code that is used to uniquely identify the vehicle’s manufacturer, country of origin and its type or manufacturing division. The first digit of the WMI typically indicates the region in which the manufacturer is located, while the second and third digits indicate the manufacturer and region where the vehicle was produced. Additionally, manufacturers who produce less than 1,000 vehicles a year use a 9 in the 3rd, 12th, 13th and 14th digits of the VIN. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) assigns the WMI codes to countries and manufacturers. Some examples of common WMI codes are SA-SM for United Kingdom, 7 for New Zealand, 9S-9W for Uruguay, J-R for Asia, 1-5 for North America, 6-7 for Oceania and 8-0 for South America.

10. Vehicle data

A vehicle’s VIN contains data about the vehicle, including the manufacturer, model year, weight, platform, model, trim, engine size, and horsepower, vehicle type, automobile platform, model, and body style, engine type, and individual vehicle identifier. In North America and China, the VIN also includes a check digit.


How to Find the VIN on Different Vehicles

Step 1: Find out what the VIN consists of

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a 17-digit code that uniquely identifies a vehicle and provides key information about its make, model, year, engine size, and manufacturer. It is important to find a vehicle’s VIN because it can be used to track the vehicle’s history such as ownership, repairs, and recalls. Additionally, the VIN can be used to determine whether or not a vehicle has been stolen or salvaged. The VIN also helps insurance companies assess the risk associated with insuring a particular vehicle. Without a VIN, it is much harder to accurately assess a vehicle’s value and history.

Step 2: Inspect the characters

Step 1: Locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on your vehicle. It is usually printed on the dashboard on the driver’s side.

Step 2: Double-check to make sure that you have the right VIN and have copied it down correctly.

Step 3: Inspect the first three characters, known as the World Manufacturer Identifier. This will tell you the vehicle’s manufacturer and the region where it was made.

Step 4: Inspect the next eight characters, known as the Vehicle Identifier Section. This will tell you specifics about the vehicle, such as its model, bodywork, engine, and equipment.

Step 5: Inspect the ninth character, which is the check digit. This is assigned by the manufacturer to ensure VIN accuracy.

Step 6: Inspect the tenth character, which is the production year designation. If the character in position 7 is numeric, the model year is 1980-2009. If it’s alphabetic, the model year is 2010-2039.

Step 7: Inspect the eleventh character, which is the factory designation.

Step 8: Inspect the remaining six characters, which is the vehicle serial number.

Step 9: Take note of the double-scored-through 0 to differentiate it from the O letter.

Step 3: Look up the WMI codes

Step 1: Locate the first three characters of the VIN. This will be the WMI code for the vehicle.

Step 2: Once you have the WMI code, you can look it up in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) database. This database will provide you with the country of origin and manufacturer of the vehicle.

Step 3: For some manufacturers, the third character in the VIN may also be a code for a vehicle type or division within the manufacturer. If this is the case, you can look it up in the SAE database for more detailed information.

Step 4: If the manufacturer produces less than 1000 vehicles a year, a 9 will appear in the 3rd, 12th, 13th, and 14th positions of the VIN. This will indicate that the manufacturer is using the WMI code to represent a second part of the vehicle’s identification.

Step 5: Once you have all the information needed, you can review the WMI code in the SAE database to get the complete information about the vehicle.

Step 4: Check online resources

Finding your VIN number can be confusing and time-consuming, but there are several online resources that can help. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding your VIN:

Step 1: Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at

Step 2: Navigate to the “VIN Lookup” page, and use the two free VIN check tools to decode your VIN or check for a recall.

Step 3: Search online for databases that can provide additional information about VINs. The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck Lookup search tool can help you find out if a car has been reported stolen.

Step 4: If you’re looking to sell your car, run a VIN check on Edmunds to get an instant cash offer.

Step 5: Lastly, check the owner’s manual of your vehicle or do an online search for your specific make and model to find other locations where the VIN can be found. Common places include the driver’s side dashboard, driver’s side doorjamb, vehicle registration, vehicle title, and insurance papers.

Step 5: Compare different approaches

When it comes to finding the VIN on different vehicles, there are at least four competing standards used to calculate the VIN that are used worldwide. These standards are FMVSS 115, Part 565 (used in the United States and Canada), ISO 3779 (used in Europe and many other parts of the world), SAE J853 (very similar to the ISO standard) and ADR 61/2 (used in Australia and referring to ISO 3779 and 3780). Comparing and contrasting these different approaches can help you determine how to best locate the VIN on your vehicle. It is also important to note that the process of locating the VIN may vary depending on the type of vehicle in question.

Step 6: Make a list of questions to ask

What questions should I ask to find the VIN on different vehicles? [Step-by-step instructions]

Finding the VIN on your vehicle can be a bit tricky and can vary depending on the make, model, and year of your car. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you locate it:

Check the dashboard. Most vehicles will have the VIN located somewhere on the lower left side of the dashboard. The driver’s side is typically a good place to start your search.

Check the driver’s side door jamb. Many vehicles also have the VIN located on the driver’s side door jamb. This is usually a five- to six-digit number stamped into a metal plate.

Check the engine compartment. Depending on the vehicle, you may find the VIN stamped on a metal plate or on the engine block.

Check the car’s title or registration. The VIN is also included on most vehicle titles and registrations.

Check the insurance card. Often the VIN will be printed on the insurance card.

By taking the time to look for the VIN on your vehicle and familiarize yourself with the numbers, you’ll be able to quickly answer any questions that come up.

Step 7: Search for vehicles with the same VIN

Step 1: Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website and locate the “VIN Decoder” lookup tool. Enter the 17-character VIN into the field and click “submit.”

Step 2: The NHTSA will provide you with information about the vehicle, such as its manufacturer, brand, make and model, body style, engine size, assembly plant, and model year.

Step 3: If you are unable to locate your VIN in any of the locations listed in the NHTSA’s VIN Decoder, search online for your specific vehicle.

Step 4: To search for vehicles with the same VIN, visit the AutoCheck® website and enter the VIN in the “Run an AutoCheck® Vehicle History Report” field.

Step 5: Select one of the report options to view a full vehicle history report. You will be able to view the year, make, model, style and country of assembly for your VIN, as well as the number of vehicle history records.

Step 6: If you’re looking to sell your car, you can also use the Edmunds website to run a VIN check and get an instant cash offer, which is good for seven days at participating dealerships.

Step 8: Confirm that the VIN is valid

In order to confirm that the VIN is valid for a different vehicle, you need to perform the following steps:

Find the VIN on the vehicle – it is typically located on the dashboard on the driver’s side or on the door post of the driver’s side door.

Use a free VIN check service (such as AutoCheck) to enter the VIN and run a vehicle history report.

Check the report to ensure that the information matches up with the vehicle you are looking at.

Calculate the check digit using the other digits of the VIN – this requires some maths and can be done with an online calculator.

Compare the check digit from the VIN to the calculated value – if the two values match, then the VIN is valid for the vehicle. However, if the two values do not match (and there was no error in the calculation), then the VIN is invalid for the vehicle.

Step 9: Contact the vehicle manufacturer for more information

Step 1: Find your vehicle’s VIN number. This is located on the driver-side dashboard and is typically a 17-digit number.

Step 2: Decode the VIN. You can enter your vehicle identification number into an online VIN decoder to get access to a car’s information. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a free VIN lookup tool.

Step 3: Contact the vehicle manufacturer. You can find the manufacturer’s contact information by searching on the internet or by visiting the NHTSA website.

Step 4: Ask the manufacturer your question. Be sure to provide your VIN number so the manufacturer can identify your car, as well as any additional information you may have in order to get the best answer to your query.