How to Decode the Car VIN Number?


Vehicle owners regularly meet with a vehicle identification code (VIN). This number is required for issuing car insurance, its registration, and in some other cases. The VIN code will help to know all the characteristics of the car when buying a used vehicle and make sure that the VIN number has not been changed to hide any suspicious information. That is why the VIN code is just like human fingerprints – it is unique and its combinations never repeat.

How to Decode the Car VIN Number?

Why Is VIN so Important?

Why Is VIN so Important?

Serving like a car passport, VIM allows you to check the history of the vehicle and find out the number of its owners, participation in traffic accidents, and whether the car is under arrest or a pledge. What is more, by dmv vin lookup, you can reveal whether the vehicle is listed as stolen in the traffic police base and whether it was used as a cab transport.

Important Details about VIN Numbers

VIN is not just a series of alphabetic and numeric characters applied to a specific part of the vehicle body, it is car’s fingerprint with all the info about it. If you want to know just everything about the car, the VIN code is the first thing you should check.

VIN Decoding Procedure

The VIN code never contains Latin alphabetic characters “I”, “O” and “Q” due to their similarity with the numbers “1” and “0,” which may create confusion when decoding the combination. Taking into account that this combination consists of 17 symbols, independent decoding of the VIN code is quite a time-consuming process.

1 – Country

The first position in the VIN code always indicates the country of car origin. In other cases, several characters are used to identify the country. There are a lot of codes for regions, but the most common ones are:

  • 1, 4 and 5 – United States of America;
  • 2 – Canada;
  • 3 – Mexico;
  • J – Japan;
  • K – Korea;
  • S – United Kingdom;
  • W – Germany;
  • Z – Italy;
  • Y – Sweden;
  • X – Russia, the Netherlands, and Uzbekistan;
  • 9 – Brazil.

2 & 3 – Vehicle Manufacturer

The following two items identify the vehicle manufacturer. The codes of many international companies consist of several characters. Like a country definition, plant identification may require all three characters.

4-8 – Car Characteristics

From the fourth to the eighth symbols, you may reveal various characteristics of the car and its type:

  • body type;
  • drive unit;
  • engine;
  • transmission;
  • steering locations and others.

9 – Check Digit

Most car concerns use the ninth character as the check digit, which is calculated according to the following formula: all numbers and Latin letters (each letter is assigned a digital value) in each position of the VIN code are multiplied by the position number code, except for the control number. And the sum of all positions is divided by eleven.

10 – The Year of Car Manufacturer

The symbol on the tenth position indicates the year when the vehicle was manufactured.

11 – The Factory Where the Car Was Made

The eleventh symbol most often indicates the code of the plant vehicle was manufactured in. However, there are no general rules for designating this position.

12-17 – Car Serial Number

The combination from the twelfth to the seventeenth characters is the serial number of the vehicle. The last four positions are always indicated by numeric characters.

Thus, by decoding all the 17 symbols, you find out full information about the car. You should in no case neglect this opportunity, especially if you buy a car that has already been in use.



Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.