What Is a VIN Number?

What Is a VIN Number

As a car purchaser, you want to be sure that you are getting the value for your money. You want to make sure that no doubts or apprehensions are left over the car’s condition. The problem, however, is that you have no way of knowing its condition at a glance.

You can only know its condition if the seller comes clean and tells you everything you need to know. No one’s going to say their car is faulty. Therefore, the only way you’ll get trustworthy info about the vehicle is to get it yourself.

That is why you need a VIN lookup. Here, we will enlighten you on the actual number we refer to as the VIN and its significance.

Understanding the VIN

VIN is an acronym that stands for Vehicle Identification Number. This is a number that is usually assigned to every vehicle after it has been manufactured. You can view the VIN as the vehicle’s DNA.

The unique code is made up of 17 characters that hold critical information about a specific vehicle. They are alphanumeric and with no small letters or special symbols. It’s just numbers and capital letters. There are letters are excluded when printing the VIN on the vehicle to avoid confusion, as we will see. 

If you are buying a used car, the VIN helps you by providing exact details regarding the vehicle’s features. With an Audi VIN, for example, you can know more about the specifications of the Audi in minutes. The VIN can also help you insure your vehicle or even order spare parts for the car.

Every character stands for something which means they all carry hidden but essential information. Knowing about it is what we call decoding. This article will be addressing that later on, but you first need to know where you can get the VIN from your vehicle.

How to Get the VIN

The easiest way to get the VIN is by checking documents like the car’s logbook and registration details. Once you get it, you must confirm it with the characters embedded in the vehicle. Depending on the car, the VIN can be found in several parts.

On most cars, you can find the number on the following parts:

  • The interior of the driver’s side dashboard
  • The driver’s side door pillar
  • The windshield’s bottom part
  • The sticker on the driver’s or passenger’s door
  • Under the hood on the front of the engine block on gasoline cars

Once you have found the VIN of the vehicle, the next thing to do is to decode it after jotting it down. 

How Do You Decode a VIN?

Decoding the VIN is all about knowing the meaning of each of its characters. To ease the decoding process, there are VIN decoders. With an online VIN Decoder, you don’t have to deal with the common pitfalls of a manual VIN decode.

An online VIN decoder is a tool that helps people get details of a car with the aid of a VIN. A decoding website like VinPit can aid in looking up the authenticity of any vehicle in seconds. With an extensive database of registered vehicles in the United States, it is hard to miss a thing.

With VinPit, you do not need anything but a VIN to access these records, not even a subscription. Once you have entered the number in the input field provided, some information will pop up.

Here’s how to decode that information:

First Three Digits

The first digit or letter represents the vehicle’s country of origin. For instance, cars produced in America like Ford start with 1, 4, or 5. In Germany, they start with a W.

The second character tells you about the manufacturer. If the car is a BMW, you will get a B, A means Audi, while L stands for Lincoln. In the third one, you get the manufacturing division.

When the three characters are combined, they form the WMI (World Manufacturer Identifier). 

Fourth to Ninth Digits

These are the characters that retrieve the vehicle specifications.  From the fourth to the eighth character, you will learn about the vehicle’s body type, model, and transmission type. The digits also reveal the engine code and restraint system.

The 9th character is used for validation. It serves as the security check to tell you if the VIN is legit or not. It contains a complex mathematical formula and that is what tells you if the VIN is a cloned version or not.

Tenth to Seventeenth Digits

The 10th character will show the year of manufacture. If you come across any letter between B and Y, it means the model was made between 1981 and 2000. The letters excluded here are Z, U, Q, O, and I.

For the models manufactured between 2001 and 2009, they use numbers 1 to 9. From model years 2010 to 2030, they use alphabets starting from A. So, you get a B for 2011, a D for 2013, and an L for cars made in 2021.

The 11th character in the VIN specifies the factory details. The last six characters (12 to 17) are the car’s serial number. You can refer to it as the number that every car receives while in production.


Before parting with your hard-earned cash, you need to clear any suspicions about the vehicle. Whether new or used, you should get the car’s VIN. The VIN will help you unearth the specifications of the vehicle that you miss at first glance.

The information you get ranges from where the car was manufactured, its serial number, and even the body type. With the above information, we now know that you can make a sound decision when purchasing a vehicle. Make your next purchase a keeper.

Written by Frederick Jace

A passionate Blogger and a Full time Tech writer. SEO and Content Writer Expert since 2015.

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