How to Decode a Freightliner Semi VINby Richard Asmus
The Unofficial DMV Guide describes the 17-digit VIN as "a vehicle's DNA or fingerprint." Every vehicle manufactured since 1981 has one, including cars, trucks, semis, RVs, motorcycles and ATVs of all makes and models. Your Freightliner's VIN includes its year, make and model, information on the truck's engine size plus the options available--and included--on the vehicle when it left the assembly line. The VIN also includes a unique serial number.
Look for the Freightliner VIN on the dashboard on the driver's side. Look through the windshield to see it clearly. If you can't find it there, look on paperwork such as bill of sale, title, insurance papers or registration card.
Go to decodethis.com (see the link in the Resources section) and copy the VIN into the space provided. Press "Decode" and wait for the next page to appear. Scroll down to the various tabs marked "General," "Equipment," "Installed" and Optional." Click on each for information on how the Freightliner was equipped when it was manufactured.
Navigate to the "Decode the VIN" reference at dmv.org (see Resources). Enter the Freightliner's VIN into the space provided and click on "Search." The next page shows a vehicle summary with an option to purchase a vehicle history report. You have no obligation to buy it.
Go to the VIN decoder at VINquery.com (see Resources) and enter the VIN in the space on the left. Click on "Go" to view the year, make and model of your Freightliner with options to buy more detailed reports, which cost from 50 cents to $1.90 as of 2010.
- The first three digits of a VIN identify the country where the vehicle was manufactured, the manufacturer and the make.
- The next five digits identify the vehicle using codes specific to the manufacturer.
- The ninth digit is a check digit to prevent fraud.
- The tenth and eleventh digits identify the year and the location of the manufacturing plant.
- The remaining digits are the vehicle's serial number.
Things You'll Need
- VIN decoder (online)
- VIN codes use numerals "0" to "9" and letters "A" through "Z" minus "I," "O" and "Q." All letters must be in upper case. Most decoders don't work if you enter lowercase letters.
Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.