Decoding Your VIN Number

A VIN number gives you unique information about your car. The information includes manufacturer identifiers, vehicle descriptors, check digit, model year, plant code, and production sequence numbers. Because each car has a unique VIN number, you can look up your VIN number and find out information pertaining specifically to your car. What information can you learn? Let’s look at six pieces of information here.

  1. Make and Origin

Your car will normally have a 17-digit number for the VIN code. If it does not have 17 digits, then it was manufactured before 1981, and an online VIN decoder would not be able to decode it. The first three digits of your VIN number represent its make. The first character is a number or letter that reveals the country in which your car was made. For example, one represents the US while J represents Japan. The second two characters are usually an abbreviation for the company – Mitsubishi or Toyota, etc. So with the first three digits, you will know which country the car was made in and the name of the company that made it.

  1. Features of Your Car

These characters’ reveal information about your car’s features – engine type, transmission, etc. Anyone who services your car usually looks into this part of the VIN number, because it will give them the information they need to correctly work on your vehicle. The fourth through eighth characters will tell you this information.

  1. Veracity of the VIN

Digit number nine is what is known as a “check digit.” To ensure that your VIN number is genuine, the United States has created a complex mathematical formula to arrive at this one digit. If this digit does not match the other digits in your VIN number, something is suspicious and will be investigated. Knowing this tip can be helpful if you are buying a car. By checking the VIN number, you can assure yourself that you are not buying a stolen car that has a new VIN number attached.

  1. Model Year

This 10th character tells you the year in which your car was manufactured. Letters were used from 1980 to 2000. Then the digits one through nine were used to represent each year from 2001 to 2009. Beginning in 2010, however, the letter system was reincorporated.

  1. Manufacturing Plant

The 11th digit indicates where the car was manufactured. If you are not using an online decoder, you might need to manually search to find the manufacturer. However, an online decoder will make the process easy.

  1. Production Number

The last digits, digits 12 through 17, will show you where your car came off the assembly line. If the code here is little-known, then your car was probably manufactured by a small assembly line and is indeed special.

Now you know the six facts that your VIN number will tell you. You can also use this information to learn whether your car has been in an accident or in any legal trouble before you owned it. Decoding your VIN number will give you information about your car that you might not have known before.

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