What is a VIN and what does each digit in a VIN mean?

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It is more likely that you have come across the term VIN when buying or insuring a vehicle, but it is also possible that maybe the meaning is what has puzzled you the most. Whenever you want to buy or sell a car online, the best option would be to go for platforms such as Carswitch where you can do it without any hassle.  

Let’s decode VIN (vehicle identification number) as we discuss it thoroughly while explaining what it means for every vehicle.

What is a VIN?

A VIN is an ideally standardized means to record an ID for every kind of car manufactured. The first time VINs were introduced was back in 1954 in the US. However, at the outset, VINs were not standardized as every manufacturer had its own system of allocating number IDs to every vehicle.

These days, a VIN has as many as 17 digits, which includes certain numbers and also capital letters. The best thing about a VIN is that it offers a distinguished ID for your car. The VIN can help you quite easily when it comes to checking a car’s specifications as it gives you an idea about where it was built, and who manufactured it. Other ID elements comprise insurance details as well as issues from the car’s history, such as recalls and thefts.

Read More: Everything you should know about a VIN

Where can I look for a VIN?

Finding a VIN can be pretty simple and easy as you can easily find it on the driver’s side dashboard. Moreover, in some of the cases, the number can be found on the inside of the driver’s side door near the latch. It is pertinent to mention here that a VIN can also be found on insurance policies, vehicle registrations, and also auto loan documents.

What Goes into a VIN?

VIN information is more specifically organized in groups, and a thorough search of your VIN can easily let you know about your car. The best part is that there is also a bit of fraud detection in the VIN as well in the form of the “check digit,” that is described in detail below. 

First Group of Digits or Letters

As far as the first group of three numbers and letters in a VIN is concerned, it can easily make up the world manufacturer identifier (WMI).  

In this group, the very first digit or letter tells you about the country of origin. Let’s take the example of 1, 4 or 5 which indicate the cars made in the U.S.  The digits for Canada and Mexico are 2 and 3 respectively. The digit for Japan is J, England is S, South Korea is K, Germany is W, and Sweden or Finland is Y.

The second element in the first group lets you know about the manufacturer. In certain cases, it’s the letter that starts with the manufacturer’s name. Let’s take the example Audi that is indicated by A, BMW by B, G is for General Motors, L is for Lincoln, and N is for Nissan. However, it is also worth mentioning that “A” can also stand for Jaguar or Mitsubishi, and Audi can also be represented by “R”. The confusion is removed by the third digit that ties it all together. 

The third digit, when joined together with the first two letters or numbers, reveals the vehicle’s type or manufacturing division.

Second Group of Digits/Letters

The vehicle descriptor section comprises the second group of next six digits (positions 4-9).

As far as the numbers 4 through 8 are concerned, they describe the car with the kind of information such as the model, transmission type, body type, restraint system, and engine code.

In addition, number 9 is the check digit and which is used to detect invalid VINs. 

Final Eight Elements 

The final group of eight elements (10-17) indicates the vehicle identifier section.

The model year is revealed by the letter in 10th position. In addition, the letter or number in position 11 reveals the manufacturing plant where the vehicle got assembled.

Last but not the least, the last six digits (12-17) indicate the production sequence numbers that each car receives on the assembly line.

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