Auto VIN Decoder - What Do Those Letters & Numbers Mean?
April 17, 2006
An Auto VIN Decoder breaks down the unique alphanumeric sequence known as a Vehicle Identification Number, which is a car's fingerprint. Each and every automobile on the road has its own 17-character VIN, and it is this identification number that is used to generate a Vehicle History Report, also known as a VIN check.
The VIN check taps into millions of DMV records and reveals all of the available history for a particular vehicle, including any hidden problems, odometer readings, ownership transfers and more. It is an absolute must for used car buyers, as it tells you everything you need to know about the vehicle.
The Auto VIN Decoder can help you understand what these letters and numbers mean, which is the first step towards ensuring that a vehicle you are considering is right for you.
Let's break down the Vehicle Identification Number, starting with the first character. (Please note the letter "I" as in indigo, the letter "O" as in orange, and the letter "Q" as in queen are NOT found in any VIN Numbers.)
(We will use the following VIN as an example: 2FTRX18W1XCA01212)
The first character represents the country of manufacture, and can be a letter or a number, each signifying a different country. The most common ones are as follows:
(1 = USA, 2 = Canada, 3 = Mexico, J = Japan, K = Korea, W = Germany, Y = Finland, Sweden)
So using the Auto VIN Decoder in the above example, this particular car was made in Canada.
The second/third characters represent the manufacturer, also known as the make. The most common are:
(A = Alfa Romeo, B = Dodge, C = Chrysler, D = Daihatsu, E = Eagle, F= Ford/Eagle, G = All General Motors vehicles (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn) H = Honda/Acura, J= Jeep, L = Lincoln, M = Mitsubishi, N = Nissan/Infiniti, P = Plymouth, S = Subaru, T = Toyota/Lexus, V = Volkswagen)
So using the Auto VIN Decoder in the above example, this car is a Ford or an Eagle..since Eagle is no longer made, it is most likely a Ford.
Other popular makes use a 3-character initial sequence:
(TRU/WAU = Audi, 4US/WBA/WBS = BMW, 2HM/KMH = Hyundai, SAJ = Jaguar, SAL = Land Rover, 1YV/JM1 = Mazda, WDB = Mercedes-Benz, VF3 = Peugeot, WP0 = Porsche, YK1/YS3 = Saab, YV1=Volvo)
The fourth character is the type of restraint system.
In the above example, "R" represents hydraulic breaks using the VIN Decoder.
The fifth, sixth & seventh characters are the vehicle line, series and body style. This will obviously be different across makes and models.
In the above example, characters 5, 6 & 7 are X18: X18 is a Ford F150 Pickup 4WD Super Cab
The eighth character is the engine type.
With the Auto VIN Decoder, W represents a 4.6 liter V-8 engine.
The tenth character represents the year of the car. Pay close attention to this one:
B = 1981 F = 1985 K = 1989 P = 1993 V = 1997 1 = 2001 C = 1982 G = 1986 L = 1990 R = 1994 W = 1998 2 = 2002 D = 1983 H = 1987 M = 1991 S = 1995 X = 1999 3 = 2003 E = 1984 J = 1988 N = 1992 T = 1996 Y = 2000 4 = 2004
For the most recent used model year, 5 = 2005
In the above example, the "X" indicates that this car was made in 1999.
The eleventh character indicates the assembly plant.
In the above example, the C indicates Ontario, Canada
Characters 12-17 represent the vehicle's unique fingerprint. It is these six digits which make every single vehicle in the world different.
So using the Auto VIN Decoder one last time, the Vehicle Identification Number: 2FTRX18W1XCA01212 represents a 1999 Ford F150 Pickup 4WD Super Cab manufactured in Ontario, Canada with hydraulic brakes and a 4.6-liter V-8 engine.
So there you have it, the Auto VIN Decoder. If you are in the market for a used vehicle, use this decoder to make sure that it is indeed the exact model that the seller is claiming it is. Once you have verified the Vehicle Identification Number is accurate, you can proceed with your VIN check and learn everything you need to know about that particular car.
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