How to Decode a General Motors Vin

by Aaron Kopf

In the 1950s, car manufacturers experienced exponential growth in sales. The large increase of cars on the road required some kind of identification system, which was referred to as a "vehicle identification number," or VIN. For the next few decades, these numbers were unique to each manufacturer. However, in the early 1980s, the Department of Transportation established the uniform 17-digit VIN, acting as a sort of DNA for your automobile.

Locate the VIN sticker on the automobile. It will probably be on the end of the driver door or at the bottom of the windshield on the driver's side.

Navigate to the following website: You will find a link for each model year as far back as 1972.

Click the model year for your automobile.

Navigate to the section for your automobile. You will find sections like "Passenger Car," "Light Duty Truck" and "Heavy Duty Truck."

Consult the guide to decode your VIN, as the website breaks down each of the 17 numbers and letters for you. For instance, say your 1999 VIN is 1G2NE52T6XM745905. The 1 signifies that your car was built in the United States, the G represents General Motors as the manufacturer, the 2 represents Pontiac as the make, the NE represent Malibu LS Sedan as the series, and so on. The other numbers and letters represent body style, engine type, restraint codes, plant of origin, and production sequence number.

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About the Author

Aaron Kopf graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with honors in 2009, holding a Bachelor of Arts in communication. While enjoying his time at college, Kopf was published in The Echo and Vortex magazine.

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