If you’ve ever bought or leased a car you
know that it came with a unique VIN.But
what you probably didn’t know was how important the VIN really is.The Vehicle Identification Number is a different
for every vehicle manufactured in the world.The unique 17-digit number is
more than a mere security feature.It
allows you, your bank, your insurance agency and possibly law enforcement to identify
your vehicle from the 1.2 billion currently on the road today.The number also provides a wealth of
information about the type, make, model and engine size, as well as the year and
country in which it was manufactured.
One Smart Number
Like fingerprints, no two VINs are alike.More importantly, every letter and digit in a
VIN represents a wealth of information about the vehicle to which it is
1.The first digit in a VIN indicates where the vehicle
was manufactured. If the digit is 1, 4
or 5, it indicates your vehicle was manufactured right here in the US. The number 2 means the vehicle was made in
Canada. Cars made in Mexico are denoted
with a 3. A 6 or 7 means the vehicle was manufactured in Australia. The letters J through R indicates Asia as the
point of manufacture. S to Z is for cars
made in Europe.
2.The next digit in a VIN points to the
manufacturer.1 = Chevrolet, 6 =
Cadillac, C = Chrysler, G = General Motors, J=Jeep, T = Toyota
3.The following 5 numbers are what is referred to as
the vehicle descriptor section, which is intended to relay information
concerning the model, the body, the transmission, the engine and the type of
vehicle.Since each manufacturer provides
their own codes for this section, you’ll need to research these digits and
letters separately to determine what they mean.
4.The ninth digit is the Check Digit, which is employed
to prove that the VIN is authentic.The
check digit is created using a complex computer algorithm to ensure that it can’t
5.The tenth digit tells you the year of manufacture.If the character is an “A”, this means the vehicle
was either manufactured in 1980, which was the first year the 17-digit VIN was
first employed, or 2010 which is when the DMV restarted the series.The original series ran from A(1980)to Y(2000), then from 1(2001) to 9 (2009)
before resuming with A again in 2010.This
means if you own a late model vehicle and the tenth digit is an F, your vehicle
was manufactured in 2015.
6.The eleventh digit is used to designate in which
auto plant the vehicle was manufactured.
7.The final 6-digits are used to designate the production
serial number of the vehicle.
In a car, van,
SUV or light truck, the VINs primary location is in any of 3 places: on the
dashboard, on the front of the engine block, and/or on the driver’s door.If your car has a spare tire, some manufacturers
also put the VIN underneath the spare in the trunk.Another location could be in the driver’s
side wheel well.
On a motorcycle or
dirt bike, the VIN number is located on the steering neck, as well as the motor
near the bottom of the cylinder.With ATVs,
it’s up to the manufacturer to decide where to locate the VIN.However, most have the number etched on the
frame to the left side under the shifter.If you can’t locate the number, it’s best to call or email the
manufacturer to find where they affixed the VIN.
the VIN should be visible through the windscreen on the driver’s side. Travel Trailers and campers usually have the
VIN located along the frame and inside exterior compartments or cabinets.Fifth wheels usually have the VIN located on
the framework of the pin box or on the front lower exterior wall.
On all motor vehicles,
the VIN also appears on the title, on the registration and on the owner’s
insurance card.If you’re thinking about
buying a used vehicle, you need to make sure that the VIN on the vehicle
matches the VIN on all three documents.If not, the vehicle you are considering could be stolen and/or the title
could be bogus.
tampering with the VIN include scratches on the VIN tag or the area that
surrounds it.If there are scratches or
there are signs that the windshield was removed to get at the VIN, you should
walk away from the deal immediately.
Another way to
verify the authenticity of the VIN is to look at the Federal Safety
Certification Label that is affixed to the driver’s door.Make sure the label isn’t loose or
scratched.It also shouldn’t be obscured
or marred in any way.If you’re at all
suspicious that a VIN may have been switched or tampered with, take the vehicle
to your mechanic to have him inspect it.
Last but not
least, you should point and click your way to the National Insurance CrimeBureau to perform a VIN check.The check
will not only verify that the VIN belongs to the car you’re considering, but it
will also let you know whether the vehicle was reported as stolen.
is the VIN so important?
More than just
an identifying number, the VIN can be used to research the history of any
vehicle.This can include police
reports, insurance documents, accident reports, vehicle history and repair
records.In short, everything you need
to know about a vehicle can be accessed through this one very important number.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus
All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website