How to Read a VIN Number?


We love the cars we possess. They can take us from point A to B faster than we can run, and most models look fantastic. The problem is that you would like to maintain that notion without worrying about the car’s origin.

Whether you just bought a Ford or have been with your Chevy for years, you need to know if your ownership is legit. It’s also not a bad idea to know where it came from and any problems associated with it.

That is why you need that VIN lookup for identification purposes. Here, we will discuss the essential number we refer to as the VIN. It will allow you to know more about the car as the details below will reveal.

What is a VIN?

VIN is an acronym that stands for Vehicle Identification Number. In most cases, people refer to it as the VIN number, which is a form of repetition since the N in the abbreviation stands for Number.

Back to the VIN, this is a 17-digit number that describes everything to do with the vehicle. Since 1981, VIN has been used to identify vehicles, but a few imports do not have it. Each character in the number stands for something.

Knowing about that is what we call decoding the VIN. This article will be addressing that, but you first need a highlight of the number and where you can get it. What the characters mean depends on the car.

For example, if you have a Ford, a Ford VIN lookup will show you what the characters mean, and that’s different from what a Chevy lookup will show.

When you are insuring your vehicle, engaging with the dealer, or ordering spare parts for the vehicle, you need the VIN. If potential buyers are coming to see your car, this is the number they will require when getting more information about the vehicle.

It will show the repairs, former owners, parts ordered, visits to the garage, and whether it has been involved in an accident or criminal activities.

How to Get the VIN from Your Vehicle

The car’s logbook and registration details are the first places you will want to look for the VIN. Once you get it, it’s a good idea to confirm with the characters embedded in different parts of the car.

Other places you can find the number include the windshield’s bottom part, the side pillar on the driver’s side, the sticker on the driver’s door, or the passenger side. VIN can also be within electronic devices in recent times, but that goes for the new models.

They do that for security reasons.

How to Read the VIN Number

Once you get the VIN and confirm that the digits are the same, write it down and head to the internet using your device. Search for a VIN lookup site (like VinPit) corresponding to your car’s model and then enter the number in the input field provided.

Some information will pop up. To help you read it, here is what the characters in the VIN represent:

The First Three Digits

They represent the manufacturer details, and you may call them the WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier.) The first digit signifies the country of origin. In Canada, they start with 2. In the US, you get 1, 4, or 5. If the vehicle is from Japan, you get a J, while they begin with a W in Germany.

The second digit will tell you more about the manufacturer. If it’s an A, that means Audi, Jaguar, or Mitsubishi. B belongs to BMW, G is for General Motor, while L stands for Lincoln. These digits may confuse you, but as you keep reading the characters, everything will reveal.

The third digit is combined with the first two to show the type or manufacturing division.

Fourth to Ninth Digits

These are the characters that describe the vehicle. From the fourth to the eighth one, you get information about the body type, model, transmission, restraint, and engine code. The 9th digit will tell you if the VIN is legit or not. It has a complex mathematical formula on it that aids in identifying if the VIN is fake or not.

Tenth to Seventeenth Digits

This is the section that identifies the car. The 10th character represents the model year. If you see anything between B and Y, it means the model was made between 1981 and 2000. The letters excluded here are I, O, Q, U, and Z.

If you have a model manufactured between 2001 and 2009, you will get numbers 1 to 9. From 2010 to 2030, they will be using the alphabet starting with A. To reduce the confusion, the numbers 1 to 9 represent the years, from 2001 to 2009 respectively.

From 2010 to the current year, A stands for 2010, and the alphabetical order follows the years. So, you get a B for 2011, C for 2012, etc. Cars made in 2020 have an L.

The 11th character represents the manufacturing plant or where the assembly happened. The last six digits (12 to 17) show you the production sequence. It’s the number that every car receives while on the assembly line.


You now know what to do when you want to know more about your car. The same case applies if you are purchasing a vehicle, whether new or used. The VIN will tell you everything about the car, not to mention the reports generated if it’s second-hand.

With the information above, we believe you are comfortable reading your car’s VIN or helping a friend do so.

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