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What is a VIN?

“VIN is an abbreviation for Vehicle Identification Number, a distinctive set of numbers and characters given to every car upon production.”

An abbreviation for Vehicle Identification Number, VIN refers to a distinctive set of numbers and characters allocated to every car upon its production. It is a linear sequence of 17 characters without spacing, and excluding characters that could potentially be confused with numbers like Q/q, I/i, and O/o. Each segment of the VIN contains particular information about the car like when or where it was made and by whom.


VIN can be used when you want to buy a second-hand car, to obtain information about it. It can also be used to track the history of the particular vehicle i.e. if there was a safety issue or defect related to that model.

VIN can be found:

① The vehicle identification number (VIN) is the number used in registering your vehicle and in all legal matters pertaining to its ownership, etc. The number is punched on the front side wall of the engine room.
② The VIN is also on a plate attached to the top of the dashboard. The number on the plate can easily be seen through the windshield from outside.
③ The vehicle certification label attatched on the driver's side center pillar gives the vehicle identification number (VIN).

When decoding VIN, it is best to approach it by sections:


1. The first 3 digits are the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI):

  • The first element refers to the location of production. Each country is assigned a unique character code under WMI
  • The second digit refers to the name of your car’s brand, and is commonly the first letter of that brand.
  • The third element, when combined with preceding two characters, refers to the classification of your car or production segment.


2. The next 6 elements are the “descriptors”:

  • The fourth through eighth elements refer to the model, type, various systems, and engine classification.
  • The ninth element is a security digit, used to prevent fake VINs.


3. The last 8 digits are the “identifier”:

  • The tenth digit refers to the car’s model year.
    * B-Y each tally with the model years 1980-2000.
    * 1-0 each tally with the model years 2001-2009.
    * Counting returned to A in 2010, and will move along the alphabet up to 2030.
  • The eleventh element refers to the location of car assembly. Each manufacturer has distinctive code combination for its plants.
  • The twelfth through seventeenth elements contain numerals that each car is assigned while in assembly.