4 Ways to Identify Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

When you’re purchasing a used vehicle, or if you’re interested in selling the automobile that has been in your household for 10 years, a vehicle identification number (VIN) becomes handy.

It is true that many motorists are unsure what exactly a VIN is. (It sounds like a cleaning product that we use to clean our floors.) But it is crucial to understand what it is and where it is.

First, a VIN is a thread of seventeen characters that are able to classify each automobile manufactured over the last forty years. It is similar to a fingerprint or even DNA due to the fact that you can educate yourself about the history of the car, even when it was being constructed.

Simply put: if you want to learn what year your car was put together or its driving history prior to your ownership then the VIN is something you need to know. Where do we start now?

Here are four ways to identify your vehicle identification number (VIN) today:

1. You Need to Know What the Characters Are Saying

Every VIN has 17 unique alphanumeric characters on all automobile produced since 1981. Unless you’re a grease monkey or an avid lover of all things cars, you likely will see the VIN as a foreign language, something from another planet. Don’t worry.

Here is everything you need to know about the characters:

  • 1 to 3: where the car was built, who built it and car type.
  • 4 to 8: vehicle’s engine type, body, transmission and safety features.
  • 9: a confirmation digit to guarantee VIN isn’t fraudulent.
  • 10 to 17: model year, car production number and manufacturing plant

Done! Now you can head over to your vehicle and perform some snooping, Philip Marlowe.

2. Where do You Even Locate the VIN Anyway?

It all depends on your automobile – some VINs could be located on other parts of the car. That said, for the most part, VINs can be located nearly everywhere on the car.

Here are the most common places for the VIN:

  • Windshield
  • Driver’s side door
  • Dashboard
  • Insurance card
  • Registration paperwork
  • Automobile documents

Have a good time searching for the VIN!

3. 1981 to the Present – or Even Since the 1950s

Every vehicle that has been manufactured since 1981 has a VIN. This means that you will find a VIN on every single car that has been made over the last four decades.

Moreover, if you have a vehicle that is a bit older than that, then you may also find a VIN. The reason for this is because many auto brands actually started slapping on these numbers starting in the early-1950s. So, if you own an old Mustang or a classic Chevy then you may be in luck.

4. Utilize an Online Decoder

Lastly, you need to know this crucial information: an online decoder is the greatest tool.

By taking advantage of an online decoder, you can learn about your vehicle’s entire history. The online decoders, which can be used on your auto manufacturer’s website, will reveal everything about your car: year, manufacturer, accidents, location of sale and the list goes on.

Akin to using websites that outline your ancestry, an online decoder will list the car’s history.


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