The most common way to identify a vehicle in many parts of the world is through a vehicle identification number (VIN). So what makes these numbers so important?
What is a VIN and where can you find it?
A VIN is a combination of 17 letters and digits used to identify your vehicle, almost like your fingerprint would be able to identify you. Every car manufactured after 1981 carries these unique set of characters. They track ownership, accidents, theft and other major events that happen to the car.
You can find the VIN in a few different places. Usually, the VIN will be prominently displayed on the dashboard of the driver’s side. You can also find the VIN on places like the engine, the inside of the door, or other major car parts like the hood of the vehicle.
Because VINs are unique to each vehicle, they are a way to track the car’s history. A VIN can potentially aid police or investigators to identify a vehicle after it was stolen or abandoned. A VIN can also function as a maintenance log to track what repairs have been completed on the vehicle. The VIN can also be used as a theft deterrent, because the number can be tracked back to a stolen car report.
How VINs Work
Each character that creates the VIN has its own special meaning. The VIN characters are broken down, as follows:
- The first character is the country of origin or assembly. For example, if the car was manufactured and assembled in Japan, the first character will be a J.
- The second character identifies the manufacturer of the car, through a coded number.
- The third character identifies the division or vehicle type. For example, a sedan, SUV, truck or coupe.
- The meaning of the fourth through eight digits can vary. They can describe horsepower, fuel capacity, number of cylinders, etc.
- The ninth digit of the VIN is a check number. This tells the VIN creator if there was an error in the previous digits. If the check number is incorrect, the VIN is corrected before use.
- The tenth digit is the model year. For example, a vehicle created in 2001 would be assigned the digit 1.
- The eleventh digit represents where the vehicle was assembled. Each factory has a unique number.
- The twelfth through seventeen digits are production sequence numbers. They may be identification codes from the manufacturer.
No two cars manufactured within 30 years of one another are able to have the same VIN. This allows law enforcement and other people who need the VIN to determine the identity of the car.
Have Your VIN Inspected
Not sure if your VIN has been tampered with? Or do you just want to know more about the history of your vehicle? MVD Express performs on-site VIN inspections for individual cars or at a designated location for fleet vehicles. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.