How Do I Read the Vin Number on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Your Vehicles has a unique Vehicles identification number--or VIN--that serves a wide range of purposes. Vehicles dealers use the number to register Vehicles warranty coverage. Insurance companies need the VIN to insure your Vehicles or another car. Police use the VIN to track stolen autos, though it is common Vehicles car thieves to remove or alter the VIN. Certain government agencies, such as state departments of transportation, monitor the ownership of Vehicles and other Vehicles by recording the VIN.

Under The Hood:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 How to Read the VIN Number on a GM G-Body

Locate the VIN through the right corner of the windshield, bolted to the dashboard.

Read the 10th digit, which is the model year. The digit must fall between B and J inclusive, for years 1982 through 1988. ("I" isn’t used to code for model years, since it could be mistaken for the number 1.) Unfortunately, this is as far as you can get in using the VIN to verify your car is a G-body, since the VIN doesn’t distinguish between front- and rear-wheel drive for those years.

Find your model year at wrath.com/vindecode/, which gives all the VIN codes for GM cars for model years going back to 1972.

Interpret digit 1 of the VIN as the country of manufacture: 1=US and 2=Canada. Digit 2 will be G, for GM.

Interpret digit 3 as follows: 1=Chevy, 2=Pontiac, 3=Olds and 4=Buick.

Interpret digit 4 as the seatbelt system: A=manual, B=automatic. This applies for 1982, but the restraint system code vary both in its coding and its position in the stretch from 1982 to 1988. Check the Vincard PDF for your own model year.

Interpret digits 6 and 7 as the body type in 1982. It distinguishes between notchback and plain back, between coupe and sedan, and between two-door and four-door. The G-body chassis was for two-door cars, not four-door. This list won’t be reproduced here, since the coding varies by model year.

Interpret the eighth digit as the engine type. There are 26 engine types for 1982 models alone, so the list won’t be reproduced here. Ignore the ninth digit. It’s an internal check.

Interpret the 11th digits as the plant site. With over 35 locations for 1982 models alone, the list won’t be reproduced here.

 How to Read a Vin Number on a Honda Civic

Locate the VIN on your Civic. You have several options. The most obvious location is on the driver's side dashboard, near the lower part of the windshield. Viewing the number in that spot might be easier from outside the car. Stand on the driver's side, and look in the windshield. Another option is to find the VIN on the certification label that is on the doorjamb of the Civic's driver's-side door. You will have to open the door to see this VIN.

Read the first three characters of the Civic's 17-digit VIN. These three digits, known as the World Manufacturer Identifier, reveal the type of vehicle and where it was built or assembled. Every one of Honda's factories in Japan, Canada, Mexico and the United States has a separate code.

Examine the next five characters--digits four through eight in the Civic's 17-digit VIN. Known as the Vehicle Description Section, these digits deal with information about the type of engine in the Civic, as well as its body style.

Pinpoint the remaining digits on the Civic's VIN. The ninth digit overall is for Honda's internal use. The 10th digit identifies the model year. (Numbers are used for Civics from 2001 or later, while letters of the alphabet were used for older models.) The plant code is revealed in the 11th digit. The serial number, which differs from one Civic to another, can be read in the last six digits.

 How to Read a VIN Number on a Range Rover Sport

Decoding the VIN Number

Locate the number. On all vehicles, the VIN is displayed on a plate at the bottom of the windshield on the driver's side. Depending on model and year, the VIN will also be somewhere under the hood, usually on the right side of the chassis.

Begin reading the VIN with the first three digits. For Range Rovers, these digits will be SAL, with S representing the country the vehicle was manufactured in (United Kingdom), A representing the manufacturing company (British Leyland, at the time of writing a division of Ford) and L representing the division (Land Rover)

Next read the fourth digit of the VIN, which is the Range Rover's model. This digit will be one of six letters: D (Defender 90 or 110), H (Range Rover Classic), J (Discovery I), P (Range Rover 4.0, 4.6 or sport edition), N (Freelander) or T (Discovery II)

Read the Range Rover VIN's fifth digit, which corresponds to the vehicle's emission system. Several letters (C, E, H, N, V, X, Y) are used to denote whether the vehicle meets the emissions standards of all 50 states or all states except California. Vehicles with a C or Y meet the emissions standards of 49 states (excluding California), while vehicles with an E, H, N or X meet all the requirements of all states, including California. V identifies a 49-state emission on the Defender model and all Range Rover models except the Classic, which has a 50-state emission standard.

Look at the the sixth and seventh digits, which are numbers indicating body type and engine type, respectively. For body type, a 1 is a five-door model, a 2 is a two-door model, and a 3 is a three-door model. For engine type, a 1 is a 3.5-liter V8 engine. A 2 is a 2.5-liter V6 engine or a 4.0-liter V8 engine (depending on model). A 3 is a 4.2-liter V8 engine. A 4 is a 4.6-liter V8 engine.

Read the eighth position on the VIN, representing the transmission type. A 2 represents a five-speed automatic. A 4 represents a four-speed automatic. An 8 is a five-speed manual.

Read the ninth digit. This is an internal check code, which a random digit or an X. Next look at the 10th position, which is the vehicle's model year. For vehicles manufactured before 2001, this is a letter from H to Y, and for vehicles manufactured in 2001 and after, it is a single digit representing the year of manufacture. For example, a 1 is a vehicle manufactured in 2001, and a 2 is a vehicle made in 2002.

Read the 11th position, which represents the assembly plant. This digit is typically A for the Solihill, United Kingdom, Land Rover plant. Finally, look at the 12th through 17th numbers. These are the vehicle's serial numbers, which represent the order in which the Range Rover rolled off the assembly line.

 How to Read the VIN Number on an International Truck

Locate the VIN. Look for it on the left side of the windshield attached to the dash, the door frame or pillar and on the firewall. It can also be found on the vehicle title.

The first character indicates the country where the truck was manufactured. The number 1 is for USA; 2 is for Canada. All Canadian vehicles were manufactured at the plant in Chatham, Ontario.

The second character indicates the manufacturer of the vehicle. H is for International Harvester.

The third and fourth characters indicate the type of vehicle and weight rating. Many different models were manufactured. For example, FC was used for the International Scout and FW for the DCO-405 trucks.

The fifth, sixth and seventh characters are for vehicle type and body style.

The eighth character is used for engine configuration information. There were many sizes and types of engines used for International truck applications. The ninth digit is used as a check digit for VIN verification and authenticity.

The 10th character gives the model year information. Meanings for the tenth character are A =1980, B=1981, C=1982, D=1983, E=1984, F=1985, G=1986, H=1987, J=1988, K=1989, L=1990, M=1991, N=1992, P=1993, R=1994, S=1995, T=1996, V=1997, W=1998, X=1999. Y=2000, 1 = 2001, 2=2002, 3=2003, 4=2004, 5=2005, 6=2006, 7=2007, 8=2008, and 9=2009.

The 11th digit indicates the plant location. International trucks were built at several different locations. Some of the 11th digit codes are G for Fort Wayne, Indiana; H for Springfield, Illinois; C for Chatham, Ontario; Y for San Leandro, California; and L for Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The last six digits designate the serial number and production sequence of the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Computer access

  • Internet VIN decoder

 How to Read a VIN Number on Your Jeep

Locate a Jeep reference chart. VIN number interpretations vary depending on the year and model of the Jeep. Visit Jeepfan.com to locate the chart for your particular vehicle.

Decode the first and second characters. These refer to the chassis of the vehicle and consist of two-digit codes that identify a Universal, Jeepster or other type of chassis.

Decode the third and fourth characters. These refer to the body style of the vehicle and consist of two-digit codes that identify a Convertible, Open Body, Tuxedo Park Mark, Fire Engine or other body style.

Decode the fifth character. This may be a digit or letter of the alphabet that identifies any special models of the body style. This includes codes for a Station Wagon, Pick-up, Smog or Roadster Open Body, among others.

Decode the sixth character. This is the drive code and is represented by a number that indicates left-hand drive, right-hand drive or left-hand drive California.

Decode the seventh character. This is the engine code for a Jeep and indicates the type of engine (F4, V6 or other), with or without emission.

Review the serial number. The last six digits are the vehicle's Sequential Serial Number (SSN), and are unique to each vehicle.

 How to Read the VIN Number on a Mazda 3

Look for a small metal plate on the driver's side where the windshield meets the dashboard. Stamped on it will be your vehicle's VIN.

Write down the numbers and letters of your VIN on a piece of a paper. A VIN consists of six parts that make up its identifying factors. The first three digits are about the manufacturer and where the vehicle was made. The first character shows which country the car was manufactured in, for example: USA (1,4,or 5), Canada (2), Mexico (3), Japan (J), Korea (K), England (S), Germany (W), Italy (Z), Sweden (Y), Australia (6),France (V) and Brazil (9). The second character identifies who manufactured the car. The third character notes what kind of vehicle it is. These three digits make up the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Some common codes for a Mazda are JM, 1YV, and 4F, denoting that Mazdas are either made in Japan or the USA.

Identify the fourth through the eighth characters. They describe what kind of vehicle you have and will tell you what features come with your specific car, such as the model, body style, trim, engine type, series and sometimes safety features. If you have a Mazda 3, BK should be the first two digits in this section.

Count nine digits into your VIN. This is your check digit number. This is used to prove if your VIN is the actual one assigned to your vehicle or not. It uses a mathematical equation to combine all the letters and numbers in your VIN, aside from the check digit itself.

Find the last eight digits of your VIN. The first identifies the model year your car was made. From 1980 to 2000 letters A through Y were used. From 2000 onwards, numbers replaced the letters. The next digit identifies the assembly plant. The final six characters of the VIN are your vehicle's serial number, simply showing the sequence of the vehicle as it came off the assembly line.