Free VIN Decoder – Vehicle Identification Number Decoding Explained

How To Decode a VIN 

Prior to understanding how VIN decoding works, it is important to know what it is all about. VIN is a common abbreviation of Vehicle Identification Number. It is a special or unique number given to vehicle and used in identifying them. The formal VIN started in 1981 since before that there were different formats used by different manufacturers. The standardization of the numbers was done to get rid of chances of similar VIN’s appearing. The digits that are found on car VIN indicate the year the vehicle was manufactured, assembly point, country of origin, model as well as other important details that will prove helpful in its identification.

The image below will show the breakdown of a VIN and explain how it can be decoded.

VINs can be located on quite a number of places on a car. The most common places are the dashboard and the driver’s side door jamb sticker. There are other locations such as the engine or the hood on some vehicles. It can also appear in log books, service records and any other car paper work. The important thing is that the VIN on your car should be easily be visible regardless of where it is located.

How VIN Decoding Works

When decoding your vehicles VIN you should be aware of what all the numbers represent. The informational article below will explain how VIN Decoders work. If you’d like to just use our VIN Decoder, go ahead and try it out by entering your VIN into the field at the top of the page:

VIN Decoder

1st – 3rd Digit – Manufacturer Identifier

The first 3 digits will be a representation or WMI or World Manufacture Identifier.

1st Digit – Country of Origin

The country of origin or where the vehicle was last assembled will be indicated by the first digit. There is a chart to show different countries and the digit used to represent them.

2nd Digit – Manufacturer

All manufacturers have a digit representing their band and this comes second after the digit indicating the country of origin.

3rd Digit – Type of Vehicle (Car, Truck, Van, etc.)

The third digit will indicate the type of vehicle in question.

4th – 9th Digit – Vehicle Description

4th – 8th digit – Make, Model, Engine Type, Transmission, Trim Code

The vehicle description section is made up of digit 4 through to digit 9. Digit 4 – 8 will indicate the model, engine type, transmission and other descriptive facts. The details represented by these numbers are important especially for service companies because they are utilized in the proper servicing of the vehicle.

9th Digit – Vehicle Check Digit

Digit 9 is also referred to as the check digit. It is the digit used to identify invalid VINs. It is indicated after using the Department of Transportation formula invented for this purpose.

10th – 17th Digit – Vehicle Identifier System (VIS)

The digits from 10 to 17 are all used in identifying the vehicle.

10th Digit – Model Year

Digit 10 is used in indicating the model year. This can be done either using a number or a letter. Most letters and numbers are assigned two years according to the VIN decoding chart. To know which one applies on your vehicle, you should refer to the seventh digit on your VIN. If the 7th digit is a number, then it shows that your vehicle was manufactured before 2010.

See the table below for a list of digits that are in the 10th spot on the VIN to be able to decode the manufactured year:

10th Digit Manuf. Year 10th Digit Manuf. Year 10th Digit Manuf. Year 10th Digit Manuf. Year 10th Digit Manuf. Year 10th Digit Manuf. Year
A 1980 L 1990 Y 2000 A 2010 L 2020 Y 2030
B 1981 M 1991 1 2001 B 2011 M 2021 1 2031
C 1982 N 1992 2 2002 C 2012 N 2022 2 2032
D 1983 P 1993 3 2003 D 2013 P 2023 3 2033
E 1984 R 1994 4 2004 E 2014 R 2024 4 2034
F 1985 S 1995 5 2005 F 2015 S 2025 5 2035
G 1986 T 1996 6 2006 G 2016 T 2026 6 2036
H 1987 V 1997 7 2007 H 2017 V 2027 7 2037
J 1988 W 1998 8 2008 J 2018 W 2028 8 2038
K 1989 X 1999 9 2009 K 2019 X 2029 9 2039


11th Digit – Plant Code / Assembly Plant

Digit 11 indicates the assembly plant. This is the plant in which the vehicle was completely assembled and each vehicle manufacturer has their unique plant codes.

12th VIN Digit – Vehicle Production Sequence Numbers

Digits 12 to 17 indicate the vehicles serial number or production number. There is no particular format to be followed here and thus each manufacturer has the freedom to use whatever format they so wish.

Free VIN Decoder – Decode a VIN Using Our Website

If your head hurts after reading that article and you’d rather just push a few buttons, check out our VIN Decoder and press the Check VIN button.



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