Monday, January 28, 2013

Automotive 101: VIN Decoding

Have you ever wondered what a vehicle's VIN number means? Wonder no more as we break down the 17-digit sequence of numbers and letters to help you decode any VIN number. 

The 17-digits in a VIN can be divided into three groups:

  • World Manufacturer Identifier - the first three letters and numbers of the VIN
  • Vehicle Descriptor - letters and numbers in positions 4 through 9
  • Vehicle Identifier - letters and numbers in positions 10 through 17
Here are the basics for each position:

#1 - The first letter or number identifies what region your vehicle was made in.
  • A, B, C, D, E, F, G & H = Africa
  • J, K, L, M, N, P & R = Asia
  • S, T, U, V, W, X, Y & Z = Europe
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = North America
  • 6 & 7 = Oceania
  • 8 & 9 = South America
#2 - The second letter or number tells you what country the vehicle was made in. Vehicles are currently made in over 80 countries, which translates into approximately 600 country codes.

#3 - This letter or number represents the kind of vehicle. Manufacturers use this number to identify vehicles as cars, trucks, vans, etc. It is important to note that each automobile manufacturer uses a different code for this position. 

#4, #5, #6, #7, & #8 - These letters or numbers represent the vehicle model, engine type, body style, and other information pertinent to the vehicle. Similar to the third letter or number, each manufacturer uses different codes for these positions. 

#9 - This is the "check digit" which helps you to determine if you are looking at a correct VIN. It is unrelated to the vehicle.

#10 - Vehicle model years can be determined by this position. It is important to remember that this digit may be different from when the vehicle was actually manufactured because many manufacturers start production on the upcoming model year in the previous year. Since each letter or number has been assigned to two different years, you must look at the 7th letter or number in the VIN to determine which year it applies to. If the 7th digit is a number, the vehicle was made before 2010. If it is a letter, the vehicle was made after 2010.

#11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16 & #17 - These positions represent the vehicle's unique information. For example, the name of the assembly plant, additional options, or the production sequence number may be included in these positions. Again, these digits vary between the different automotive companies so be sure to verify the information with the appropriate manufacturer.

For more information about your vehicle's unique VIN number, contact us at 217-935-3106. We're happy to answer any questions you might have no matter what make or model you drive!

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