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How Do I Read the Vin Number on My 1999 VW Passat?

by Paul Dohrman

The Vehicle Identification Number, a 17-digit alphanumeric code unique to each car since the 1980s, serves not only as an anti-theft measure but also to tell you your car's make, model, year, features and engine type--and even whether it accepts ethanol. In a VW Passat, the VIN number is located on the left side of the dashboard through the windshield.

Step 1

Interpret the first digit of the VIN as the manufacturing country. W refers to German; 3 means Mexico.

Step 2

Interpret the second digit as the make. V is for VW.

Step 3

Interpret the third character as the model. W means car and 2 is multi-purpose vehicle.

Step 4

Interpret digit 4 as the series: M-Passat four-door GLS N-Passat GLS wagon R-Passat GLS Syncro Wagon In Canada, A-Passat four-door GLS B-Passat GLS wagon E-Passat GLS Syncro Wagon F-Passat four-door GLS Syncro G-Passat four-door GLX Syncro H-Passat GLX Syncro Wagon

Step 5

Interpret digit 5 as the engine type: A-Four-cylinder, 1.8L, gas Passat, 150HP D-Six-cylinder, 2.8L, gas Passat, 190HP

Step 6

Interpret digit 6 as the restraint type: 2 or 8-Airbags on driver and passenger side, active seatbelts on driver and passenger side 3 or 6-Front and side airbags on driver and passenger side 4-Front and side airbags on driver and passenger side, side airbags rear passenger

Step 7

Interpret digits 7 and 8 as the model. For a Passat the code is 3B.

Step 8

Ignore digit 9. This is what’s called a “check digit,” which is VW’s internal code.

Step 9

Interpret the 10th digit as the model year. X is for 1999.

Step 10

Interpret the eleventh digit as the assembly plant: E-Emden H-Hannover M-Mexico W-Wolfsburg

Interpret the last six digits as the position in the production sequence in which the cars roll off the production line.

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