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How to Interpret a Chevy Truck VIN

by David Curtis

Your truck's vehicle identification number contains clues to a variety of information, ranging from the country where it was manufactured to its engine size. The specifications for your Chevy truck are detailed in the VIN number, and you can also learn the vehicle's weight rating, its chassis type, the kind of engine and even the city and the plant where it was produced.

The Chevrolet truck's VIN number is on a tag on the driver's side under the windshield molding attached to the dash panel. Older models have a tag attached to the firewall or door jam. It can also be found on the vehicle's certificate of title.

The first character will indicate where the truck was manufactured. The number 1 is for the USA, 2 for Canada, 3 for Mexico, J for Japan, K for Korea, S for England, and W for Germany.

The second character cites the manufacturer. The letter G is assigned to a General Motors vehicle.

Learn the division from the third character. Number 1 is for Chevrolet. Other GM codes are 2 for Pontiac, 3 for Oldsmobile, 4 for Buick, 6 for Cadillac, and 8 for Saturn.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR, is revealed by the fourth character. A is for 0-3000 pounds, B for 3001-4000, C for 4001-5000, D for 5001-6000, E for 6001-7000, F for 7001-8000, G for 8001-9000, H for 9001-10000, J for 10001-14000, K for 140001-16000, L for 16001-19500, and M for 19501-26000.

The type of chassis comes from fifth character. B is for an incomplete vehicle, C for a 4x2 full-size pickup, E for a 4x2 compact pickup, H for a cutaway chassis, J for a 4x4 compact pickup, K for a 4x4 full-size pickup, P for a forward control chassis, R for a 4x2 full-size pickup, S for a 4x2 sport-utility, T for a 4x4 sport-utility, U for a 4x2 all-purpose vehicle, V for a 4x4 full-size pickup, W for a Chevrolet El Camino, and X for a 4x4 all-purpose vehicle.

Character No. 6 informs of the body style. The number 1 is used for a 1500, 2 for a 2500, 3 for a 3500, 4 for a ½ ton heavy duty, 5 for a 3 ton GMC, 6 for a ½ ton Luxury 1500, 7 for a ¾ ton Luxury 2500, and 8 for a 1 ton Luxury 3500.

Identify the body type through the seventh character. The number 3 is for a four-door cab, 4 for a two-door cab, 6 for a Suburban, 7 for a Motor Home chassis, 8 for a two-door sport utility, 9 for an extended cab, and 0 for a chassis only.

Find the type of engine used with the eighth character. Engine combinations vary for each model and year. Some of the more popular truck engine codes are C for a 6.2 diesel, F for 5.0 gasoline engine, R for a 5.7, and W for a 4.3. Use an Internet VIN decoder to find the engine specifications for your truck.

The 10th character indicates the year of the vehicle. The letter A is used for 1980, B for 1981 and in alphabetical sequence up to H for 1987. Then J is for 1988 and K is for 1989. The 1990s start with the letter L for 1990, M for 1991 and N for 1992. It jumps to P for 1993 and goes to R, S and T for 1994, 1995 and 1996, respectively. Letters V through Y are used in sequence for years 1997 through 2000. The number 1 is used for 2001 and 2 for 2002, and the numbers 3 through 9 are used in order through model year 2009.

Plant location is the 11th character. B is for Baltimore, Md., E for Pontiac East, Mich., F for Flint, Mich., J for Janesville, Wisc., K for Linden, N.J., R for Arlington, Texas, V for Pontiac, Mich., and Z for Fort Wayne, Ind. The number 1 is for Wentzville, Mo., 2 for Moraine, Ohio; 3 for St-Eustache, Québec, 5 for London, Ontario, 8 for Shreveport, La., and 9 for Oshawa, Ontario. There are also several international manufacturing plants that are not included here.

Identify the remaining six characters to find the production sequence of the Chevy truck. The last six digits also designate the serial number and appear as a portion of the original engine casting number.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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