What is a VIN Number?
What is a VIN?
A VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a unique 17-character code made up of numbers and capital letters that identifies a specific vehicle.
Like snowflakes, every VIN is unique. This means that your VIN is specific to your car and can be used to track its history. The VIN is used by law enforcement to locate and identify stolen vehicles, by mechanics to identify parts required to service the vehicle, and by used car buyers to assess a vehicle’s damage and accident history.
How do I find my VIN?
VINs are typically displayed in two places on your car. First, you can find your VIN looking through the bottom corner of your windshield on the driver’s side.
Second, your VIN is likely displayed on the driver’s side door post. This is the part of the body of the car where the door latches when it’s closed. The VIN can be viewed by opening the door and looking below the latch.
Additionally, you can locate your VIN on your insurance card, on your insurance policy, and on the vehicle title and registration.
What does each digit mean in a VIN?
Below is a breakdown of the different numbers and letters in the VIN and what they mean:
- Symbol #1 tells you where the vehicle was built (ex. 1, 4, or 5 = US; J = Japan)
- Positions #2 and #3 identify the manufacturer and car make (ex. 1FA = Ford; 2A4 = Canada-made Chrysler)
- Digits #4–#8 describe vehicle attributes including the vehicle model, body style, and engine type
- Digit #9 is the security code, indicating authorization by the manufacturer
- Digit #10 indicates the model year of the car
- Digit #11 identifies the plant where the car was assembled
- Digits #12–#17 are the car’s unique serial number
What does my VIN tell me?
A surprising amount of information is stored within the 17 digits of each VIN. In addition to your vehicle’s origin and physical details, online VIN databases such as CARFAX, NICB, and the US Department of Transportation can reveal a wealth of helpful information about your car, including:
- Registration history – the names of your car’s previous owners and the length of time each one owned your car
- History of recalls by the manufacturer
- Open recalls
- History of major accidents
- Damage history including flood, structural, and hail damage
- Service history
- Insurance history
- Estimated mileage driven per year
The materials available in the Knowledge Center are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact legal counsel to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of this website or any of the links contained within the website do not create representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.