Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) decoding

vin decoding to identify a vehicle

The VIN is a unique 17-character number used to identify a vehicle. Would you like to know how you can get more information by decoding the VIN?

1954 was the year when automakers started using a Vehicle Identification Number - VIN. Initially, (between 1954 and 1981) manufacturers didn’t have a standardized format and VINs varied considerably. Starting in 1981 and continuing to today, every car and light truck model produced is assigned a unique 17-digit VIN in a format standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Why was VIN standardized?

It was done to show prevent fraud, aid law enforcement, and allow buyers to make informed decisions. The VIN has 17 digits that are not random but instead outline specific information like make, model, year, country of origin, and more.

To view vehicle history with the EpicVIN vehicle history report, simply enter a VIN and click ‘Check VIN.’

Why should you be aware of VIN decoding when buying a used vehicle?

Thieves sometimes replace the VIN of a stolen car with the VIN of a legally registered one in order to defraud buyers. The EpicVIN VIN decoder chart helps verify a vehicle’s VIN, simply ensure that the VIN found on the title documents and service records matches the VIN on the vehicle’s dashboard and door.

Our VIN decoder chart will help you verify the correct VIN so you can make sure it matches up with what’s in the title documents and service records. VIN clone alerts can be found through use of a report.

How can a VIN be decoded?

Example VIN: 4HGCM82632A005243

17-character number to identify a car

Notice: Modern VINs do not include the letters O (o), I (i), and Q (q) to avoid confusion with numerals 0, 1, and 9.

Country

The country of origin or the final point is assembly of the vehicle is indicated in the first digits of the VIN number. In most cases, this number refers to the country where the car was made. However, in some European countries, those digits can relate to the manufacturer headquarters. For example:

1,4,5 - for the United States;

2 - for Canada;

3 - for Mexico;

J - Japan;

K - Korea;

S - UK;

V - France, Spain;

T - Switzerland;

W - Germany;

Y - Sweden/Finland;

Z - Italy.

The VIN ensures that one vehicle will never be mixed up with another.

A vehicle's VIN ensures it will never be mistaken for another vehicle.

Check any vehicle with EpicVIN at: www.epicvin.com

Short description:

  • The first three digits of the VIN are related to the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI) number. However, if an automaker builds fewer than 500 vehicles per year, 9 could be the third digit and positions 12-14 (part of the production number) will list the second part of the manufacturer’s WMI.
  • The second digit in the VIN indicates the region where the vehicle was produced and the manufacture.
  • The third digit indicates the manufacturing division or type of vehicle.

Regarding the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS)

  • Digits 4 through 9 make up the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS).
  • Digits 4 through 8 identify the vehicle model, engine type, transmission, body style, and more. Service shops commonly use this information to identify systems installed by the manufacturer so they can provide proper service.
  • The ninth digit, sometimes it’s called ‘check digit,’ is used to detect invalid VINs based on a mathematical formula that was developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Regarding the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS)

  • Digits 10 through 17 make up the VIS - Vehicle Identifier Section. The tenth digit indicates the year.

Year

 

Year

 

Year

 

Year

1980

A

1995

S

2010

A

2025

S

1981

B

1996

T

2011

B

2026

T

1982

C

1997

V

2012

C

2027

V

1983

D

1998

W

2013

D

2028

W

1984

E

1999

X

2014

E

2029

X

1985

F

2000

Y

2015

F

2030

Y

1986

G

2001

1

2016

G

2031

1

1987

H

2002

2

2017

H

2032

2

1988

J

2003

3

2018

J

2033

3

1989

K

2004

4

2019

K

2034

4

1990

L

2005

5

2020

L

2035

5

1991

M

2006

6

2021

M

2036

6

1992

N

2007

7

2022

N

2037

7

1993

P

2008

8

2023

P

2038

8

1994

R

2009

9

2024

R

2039

9

Regarding the Assembly Plant:

  • The 11th digit identifies the manufacturing plant in which the vehicle was assembled as each manufacturer has its own set of plant codes.

Production Number:

  • Digits 12 through 17 indicate the serial or production number. Each manufacturer may use this number differently as there is no fixed standard and could indicate the sequence in which a vehicle came off the assembly line or other information. 
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