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VIN Number

VIN Number — Decoder

A vehicle’s VIN number is a unique identifier that includes the vehicle manufacturer’s name, where the vehicle was manufactured, the model year, engine identification and serial number.

There are at four competing standards used to calculate the VIN.

FMVSS 115, Part 565: Used in United States and Canada
ISO 3779: Used in Europe and many other parts of the world
SAE J853: Very similar to the ISO standard
ADR 61/2 used in Australia, referring to ISO 3779 and 3780

VIN formats

For vehicles made or manufactured outside the U.S but made for sale in the U.S. the SAE and ISO standards are used.

VIN digits 1-3 — Where the vehicle was made and who made it

Digits 1 Where the vehicle was made (Country)

Digits 2-3 Manufacturer/Division of Manufacturer (aka World Manufacturer Identifier). For more information on WMI click here to request detailed information.

VIN digits 4-7 describe vehicle attributes

VIN digit 8 identifies the engine installed in the vehicle at the factory

The vehicle manufacturer assigns this value as either a letter or number. The engine identifier is unique to the model year and manufacturer. It is NOT universal to all makes and models.

VIN digit 9 is a check digit

VIN digit 10 is the model year of the vehicle

Starting with model year 1980, the year identifier is alphabetical without the letters I (i), O (o), Q (q), U (u) or Z (z). Starting in model year 2001 and through model year 2009 the model year identifier changes to numbers. In model year 2010 it changes back to alphabetical. Then in model year 2031 it changes back to numerical.VIN decoder


VIN digit 11 is the vehicle manufacturing plant

This digit is assigned by the vehicle manufacturer, is manufacturing plant specific and is not universal.

VIN digits 12-17 is a Vehicle Unique Number (serial number)

This is sometimes referred to as the Regular Production Option (RPO). The serial number is used by the manufacturer and dealer to identify the options installed on the vehicle at the factory, along with date of manufacture.


In addition to identifying the model year, engine, options, etc., the VIN can also be decoded to list body style, weight, and all included safety equipment. Simply click on this link to go to NHTSA’s Vehicle product information catalog 

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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