Decoding Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)


Investing in a used vehicle can be a prudent option, if you’re working on a tight budget or don’t want to shell out a considerable amount of money purchasing a new car. Knowing the vehicle history can help you arrive at answers about the used car’s past. So, it is one of the steps you must take before putting your money down. At ClearVIN, we will provide you with an instant car VIN history report to help analyze important info about the vehicle of your choice. However, running a free VIN number check can be a complex maze of characters if you don’t know what each symbol means. Therefore, to help clear the haze, we in this post discuss a framework that you can use to decode your car’s VIN. Take a look.

Decoding VIN Number

Where to Find Your Car’s VIN
Vehicle identification numbers have been in existence since 1954. However, an international system came into existence in 1981. You can find your car’s VIN on important documents such as the vehicle registration, and insurance policy. Also, VIN appears on the car’s body including the driver’s side dashboard, and on the driver’s side.

What’s in a VIN?
VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a combination of 17 characters. Basically, it can be divided into three groups- World Manufacturer Identifier, Vehicle Descriptor Section, and Vehicle Identifier Section.

World Manufacturer Identifier

The first Number or the Letter
The first number or letter tells about the geographical location where the vehicle was manufactured. VIN contains the following numbers or letters at this position:

  • A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H for cars manufactured in Africa.
  • J, K, L, M, N, P, and R for cars manufactured in Asia.
  • S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z signify that the car was manufactured in a European country.
  • Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are provided to cars made in North America.
  • Numbers 6 and 7 signify the car was made in Oceania .
  • Numbers 8 and 9 are given to cars manufactured in South America.

The Second Letter or Number
The second character along with the first letter or number tells about the country where the vehicle was manufactured, which can be different from where the company is located.

The Third Number or Letter
The third number or digit signifies the type of vehicle. Car makers use different codes to and you can visit the manufacturer’s website to learn more about these codes.

Vehicle Descriptor Section
Numbers 4-8
Numbers from 4-8 provide useful info about the vehicle such as the body style, engine, and model. You can visit the manufacturer’s website to learn more about the code that they use.

The Ninth Number
In most cases, the ninth number doesn’t reveal anything about the car and is used by most companies as a check digit to ensure the VIN is correct. You, too, can find the authenticity of your car’s VIN by multiplying all the numbers, (excluding the ninth number) and the alphabets, (their position in English alphabet signifying their number,for example, A will be 1) and dividing it by 11. The remainder must be the check digit.

Vehicle Identifier
The Tenth Number
The tenth number tells about the vehicle’s model year. Decoding instructions to learn more about the vehicle’s model year are as follows:

  • Letters A to H signify the vehicle was manufactured anywhere between 1980-1987 or 2010-2017 with each alphabet corresponding to the year (For example, letter B signifies the vehicle was manufactured in 1981 or 2011).
  • Letter J to N are for vehicles made between 1988-1992 or 2018-2022.
  • P signifies the vehicle was manufactured in 1993 or 2023.
  • Letters R-T signify the vehicle was made between 1994 – 1996 or 2024 – 2026.
  • Letters V-Y are for vehicles manufactured between 1997 – 2000 or 2027 – 2030.
  • Numbers 1-9 signify the vehicle was manufactured between 2001-2009 or 2031-2039.

Remaining Numbers (11-17)
Finally, number 11 through 17 provide additional info about the vehicle such as the assembly plant’s name, production sequence number, and extra options added. Visit the manufacturer’s website to learn more about the codes they use and get all the related info.

Final few Words
You can unearth important info about a repossessed or salvage car by studying its VIN. Typically, it helps in avoiding fraud and any resultant losses. At ClearVin, we extract data from reliable sources such as The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to provide accurate info to our customers. We provide instant reports and can help you save time while looking up a car by VIN. To learn more, fill out our contact form, and we’ll get back to assist you.

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