VIN Number – What Is It?

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – Image_source

VIN process was firstly started in 1954, for all the vehicles manufactured in the USA. In the first couple of years, there was no standardized length of the numbers, type or characters. The numbers differed from one manufacturer to another.

Then came the year 1981 when the manufacture of vehicle models started. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) put a standard on the VINs assignment to be 17 characters which were to be a combination of numbers and letters.

1. What Is VIN Number?

Vehicle Identification Number, also known as VIN, consists of a string of numbers totaling up to seventeen digits.

No two automobile are still operational and have the same VIN. As a result, this makes it the fingerprint or identity code for a specific vehicle.

The VIN carries unique features about the car, manufacturers and any other specifications. It is found on all vehicles manufactured after 1981. The long number can be located on doorjamb on the driver’s side, stamped on the dashboard or the engine’s firewall.

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The long number is the most efficient way of identifying a vehicle. It also acts as a social security number for cars which can give extensive information about them. The digits can give you the history of the automobile regarding its purchase, inspection and registration among many other things. It is a sequential number that is almost like a serial number.

2. Why Do Vehicles Have VIN Number?

The VIN makes the matter of tracking the owner of a vehicle super easy. This is because of its characteristic of being unique, which means that there is no to two cars that have the same VIN. Therefore, a specific VIN will belong to only one automobile ever manufactured. Even with the recycling of one digit every 30 years the VIN never overlaps.

It gives car enthusiasts, who enjoy collecting vehicles way to check how original an automobile. Original cars say, a Mercedes AMG is likely to be worth millions of dollars.

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Moreover, a VIN can be used to get the full history of the vehicle. This information ranges from registrations, accidents and many other aspects of the vehicle’s history. The World Wide Web site has managed to capture comprehensive maintenance reports for individual cars within 20 to 30 years or so.

A video about VIN Number:

It also works in making the calling back of defective automobiles very easy. If some faults in some vehicles keep showing up, then VIN would make the process of rectifying the mess simple. Therefore, a recall on the specific plant code and the number of products can be used to sort only the affected vehicles.

Those wishing to purchase a car can check and validate the accuracy of the information given to them by sellers. This is done by inputting the VIN. If it comes up clean, then you can go right ahead and make an honest purchase.

A VIN has similar features as a birth certificate. It is used to gauge the authenticity of the vehicle as provide basic information about the automobile and the manufacturers.

3. Where Can I Find the VIN?

where is the VIN number
Posible location of VIN number – Image Source

The VIN is located at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle. To view this, you can just stand out; If you look at the dash close to the corner, it meets the windshield. Therefore, you will not miss the VIN.

If you can’t seem to locate it there, it should be on the driver side door at the doorstep. It can also be found on the engine bay; most manufacturers put the VIN on several areas of the vehicle.

The other VIN locations also include the insurance and the vehicle registration or title

4. What do the numbers and letters in a VIN mean?

VIN number
Vin Number meaning – Image Source

The VIN is not a random mumble jumble of numbers. In fact, it can be thought of the DNA sequence for a vehicle. Each figure and digit represents something significant. The code forms a string of numbers, each with a different story to tell.

The following is a basic breakdown of the meaning of the numbers and digits in a VIN:

  • The first digit: Shows the location of final assembly or the nation of origin
  • Second digit: Most cases it’s the initial letter of the name of the vehicle or manufacturer. The next number will help you figure this out.
  • Third digit: It indicates the type of vehicle or shows the manufacturer division. The easy way to figure this out is from Wikipedia’s handy list.
  • Fourth digit to the eighth digit: Describe basic information about the car such as type, model, body, airbags, restraint system, engine code, transmission type, etc. The manufacturers put this number for different purposes that involve detailing the automobiles.
  • Ninth digit: Detects invalid VIN. It uses a mathematical formula from the Department of Transport. This number is calculated using other mathematics to validate VIN.
  • The tenth digit :this shows the year of manufacture and is common in all models. The 21 letters of the alphabet are recycled every 30 years.
  • Eleventh digit: every car manufacturer has a sequence production number. It shows the assembly plant.
  • Twelfth to seventeenth digit: identify the specific vehicle
VIN number format
An example of VIN number – Image Source

5. What if the VIN is not 17 characters long?

If you have an antique vehicle and the digits are less than 17, then there is no need to worry. This is vehicles with VIN containing less than 17 characters was probably manufactured before the year 1981. The NHTSA required that all cars developed for use on the road to get the 17 digit number.

Another reason for a shorter VIN is if the owner replaced his previous one following the laws and regulations that are applicable. Reasons for replacement could range from being unreadable or damaged. In this case, a replaced VIN will only have 12 characters.

However, if your model is dated 1981 or any year after and has a VIN less than 17 digits then there is cause for worry. This number is invalid.


A VIN is a fast and easy way to get the basic information about the vehicle and various manufacturer specifications.

It is like a birth certificate for cars that only provides unique information about a particular automobile.