Decoding Your VIN

Every vehicle manufactured carries a unique 17-character alpha-numeric vehicle identification number or VIN. You can easily find your VIN by looking in the bottom corner of the driver side windshield, the steering column, driver’s door or the door post on the passenger side, and many other places.

So you might wonder to yourself what these number and letters stand for and how to decode you own VIN:

  • The first three characters are used to identify through the World Manufacturer Index (WMI). The United States is represented by the numbers one or four, Canada is two, and Mexico is three.
    Countries including Germany, Italy, and Japan are represented by letter W, Z, and J, respectively.
    The second character refers to the manufacturer and can be either numbers or letters, for example Jaguar (A), Dodge (B), Chrysler (C), Jeep (J), Buick (4), Cadillac (6), or Saturn (8).
    Finally, the third number indicates the vehicle type or manufacturing division.
  • The fourth through the ninth characters are part of the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS). This identifies the vehicle types as well as the platform, model, and body style.
    The ninth digit is an accuracy check digit used to identify previous VINs.
  • Characters ten through seventeen comprise the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS), which is used by the manufacturer to identify each individual vehicle.
    The tenth digit identifies the model year.
    Digit 11 tells you the assembly plant.
    Characters 12 to 17 are the vehicle’s serial number, which is used to identify one vehicle from another and be useful for allowing one to tell where it rolled off the assembly line.

Altogether, the 17 character create a unique identifier, which can tell you all you need to know about the vehicle and its particular history.