How to Read a Dodge VIN Number

by Jody L. Campbell

VIN (vehicle identification number) numbers on Dodge vehicles are not just sequential serial numbers for the product. They offer historical information about the individual vehicle, from its inception to more advanced information and data now available, such as whether the vehicle has been in an accident. Although VIN history reports may not always be free, you can still find out a lot of information about your Dodge by decoding its unique VIN. Prior to 1980, VINs only had 13 digits and the information was a bit more convoluted. Since then, they've become 17 digits, and the information is much more uniform.

Locate the VIN plate. These are always located just under the lower left-hand side (driver's side) of the windshield. The law requires that this VIN plate be intact and present on every vehicle. There are other stickers and plates on the Dodge that will post the VIN number, but this plate is the only DOT-approved serial tag for any vehicle.

Learn the country in which your Dodge was constructed by reading the first digit of the VIN. The number 1 would indicate it was manufactured in the United States; the number 2 would indicate it was manufactured in Canada.

Read the second digit of the VIN to determine the make of the Dodge. For example, a Dodge will have the letter B, a Chrysler (still a Dodge product) would display the letter C, and a Plymouth would display the letter P.

Discover the vehicle type by reading the third digit of the VIN. For example, a passenger car would display the number 3 and a truck would be a number 7.

Determine the gross vehicle weight by reading the fourth digit. On some older VINs, this digit also conveyed certain safety features on the Dodge.

Read the fifth digit of the VIN to learn the vehicle line. This determines the model and type of Dodge you have--for example, a sedan Neon, a coupe Stealth, a four-wheel-drive Dakota or a two-wheel-drive Ram.

Learn the series of the model from the sixth digit. This will determine whether you have a sport package, a luxury package, a 1/2 ton-pickup or a 1-ton pickup, to name a few possibilities.

Count over to the seventh digit of the VIN on your Dodge to learn the body type of the vehicle--whether it's a hatchback, a wagon, a van, a four-door pickup or some other.

Determine the engine code from the eighth digit. This number reveals what size motor is in your Dodge, and separates it from a similar motor manufactured in the same year that may use different parts. This is an important number with which to provide parts stores, repair shops and the dealership service with part-replacement information.

Locate the ninth digit of the VIN. This is called the check digit, and is a unique number that applies to the rest of the information conveyed by the VIN. It is different for every year, make and model.

Determine from the tenth digit of the VIN the year in which the vehicle was manufactured. This is another important number for parts stores and repair shops to have. Although a displacement sticker may reveal that your Dodge was manufactured in September of 2005, it is very likely the tenth digit of the VIN would have the number 6, to indicate that your Dodge is considered a 2006 model. This becomes important if new or improved parts were introduced to a model that was manufactured in multiple years.

Look at the eleventh digit to learn which plant manufactured your Dodge. Certain letters are used for certain plants; this character would correspond to the first digit, which announces what country the vehicle was manufactured in.

Learn what number your car was off the assembly line by reading the last six numbers of the VIN. If yours reads 000001, your Dodge was the very first car off the assembly line in its year of manufacture.

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.