How to Read a Chevrolet Silverado Vin Number

by Jack Hathcoat

For many years, there has been an ongoing, heated discussion among automotive manufacturers about changing the current Vehicle Identification Number system. Commonly referred to as VIN numbers, in their current form, they are complex and not easily interpreted. Government agencies are familiar with them, relying on them for title registrations. Insurance companies also understand them. VIN numbers are so complex in their current form that General Motors, and other automotive manufacturers, includes an algorithmic number--the ninth digit of the VIN--to help insure accurate transposition of this 17-digit combination of letters and numbers.

1

Look at the drivers dash from outside the truck, through the lower windshield and locate a stamped, metal plate that is riveted there. The numbers embossed on the plate are the VIN number. This number can sometimes be found on the drivers door, or in the glove compartment. Note this number for reference.

2

Decode the VIN. The VIN is decoded in sequence. The order is: 1. Country of origin. 2. Manufacturing division, such as GMC or Chevrolet. 3. Make, such as bus or truck. 4. Brake design, anti-lock, four-wheel disc or heavy-duty. 5. Chassis type, which ranges from small trucks to military vehicles. 6. Series, meaning the tonnage rating or carrying capacity of the truck. 7. Body type, such as a motor home, or two- or four-door truck. 8. Engine type. 9. Algorithmic single digit used to calculate the accuracy of a VIN. 10. Model year; this can be a letter or number. Nos. 1 through 9 were used from 2000 to 2009. In 2010, letters were again adopted. 11. Assembly plant; General Motors uses multiple plants for like models. 12-17. The production or serial number assigned to the vehicle.

3

Use the VIN. Use it to purchase replacement parts, verify recall information about product safety, and obtain crash history reports before a used car purchase. The VIN provides detailed, and reliable information about the vehicle and is interdependent among many agencies. Any foreign manufacturer must also follow the standardized guidelines if they intend to do business in the United States.

About the Author

Jack Hathcoat has been a technical writer since 1974. His work includes instruction manuals, lesson plans, technical brochures and service bulletins for the U.S. military, aerospace industries and research companies. Hathcoat is an accredited technical instructor through Kent State University and certified in automotive service excellence.

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