What does your VIN number mean.

 

If your car was manufactured any time since the 1981 model year, then you can be sure it has a Vehicle Identification Number somewhere on it. This 17-digit code may seem like just a jumble of numbers and letters, but it is actually a treasure trove of information. It is also essential to know if you want to do anything like run a vehicle history report or identify a stolen car. 

Step 1: Find the VIN 

Before you can start using the VIN for good, you have to locate it on a car. It can typically be found in one of three locations: beneath the windshield on the driver-side door, on the firewall in the engine bay or on the driver-side doorjamb. 

Step 2: Identify the first nine figures 

Once you've found the VIN, it's time to decode the digits. A few distinct sections make up the first nine figures in the code, and each of these reveals a little bit about the car itself. 

World Manufacturer Identifier: The first three digits of the VIN let you know where the vehicle was made, as well as which company and division made it. For example, the figure in the first position tells you in which country the car was made. U.S.-based rides typically start with 1, 4 or 5, while Germany is distinguished with a W, Japan with a J and South Korea with a K.

The second letter is for the manufacturer itself. An A could represent Audi, for instance, but letters can signify different automakers. That's where the third digit comes into play. This figure leads back to the vehicle type or the distinct manufacturing division, and with the second, it can distinguish a specific type of car. 

Vehicle Descriptor Section: Digits four through nine comprise a code that reveals details about the individual car. The fourth through eighth clarify the model, body type, restraint system, transmission type and engine code. Finally, the ninth digit is referred to as a "check" digit. You probably can't do much with this, but the Department of Transportation can use it to detect invalid or forged VINs. 

Step 3: Examine figures 10 to 17 

The last section of figures points to the specific model car. You can determine the model year from the letter or number in position 10, and the digit in position 11 is used to pinpoint the manufacturing facility where the car was made. Lastly, digits 12 through 17 are specific production sequence numbers. This is completely unique to the vehicle and reveals the number the car got while on the assembly line. 

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