What Exactly Is A VIN?

Jan 25, 2016

What Exactly Is A VIN?

Auto manufacturers worldwide are required to issue vehicle identification numbers (or VIN) to every vehicle that they manufacture.  VINs have been standardized worldwide1 to be a 17-character alphanumeric code that excludes the letters I (i), O (o), and Q (q) because they tend to be confused with the numbers 0 and 1.  .  Each of the numbers and letters correspond to the vehicle’s characteristics such as its year, model, make, and more.  

VINs help auto makers and buyers to track detailed information about vehicles and aids in safety recalls.  They are also useful in verifying the history of the vehicle.  Useful details such as accident reports, previous owners, and title information are quite beneficial to potential buyers (especially if the vehicle is used).  

World Manufacturer Identifier

The first 3 of the 17 characters in a VIN will display the code of the auto manufacturer.  

Vehicle Descriptor

The 4th to 9th alphanumeric code combination conveys information about the vehicle and the VIN code itself.  Characters 4 through 8 describe the body style, model, type and like information.  The 9th character verifies that the VIN is accurate.  Usually, the 9th character is a number or the letter “X”.

Specific Details 

The final alphanumeric characters provide a variety of details about the vehicle including its origin manufacturing plant code, engine type, transmission type, and its features package.  

Where Is My VIN Located?

The VIN is purposely stamped on several locations throughout the vehicle.  The most common and most accessible places to find the VIN are:

* The door frame of the driver’s side door

* On the dashboard corner in close proximity to the windshield.  

* In the glove compartment.  

You may be able to locate the VIN on the title of the vehicle or on the insurance policy covering the driver(s) of the vehicle.  If you cannot find the VIN, contact the manufacturer for additional locations where the VIN may be located.