How to Read Heavy Truck VINs

by Dawn Marcotte

In 1981 a seventeen character standardized identification number was introduced to the automotive industry. Since that year every vehicle manufactured has had this required code. This code can be used to identify a vehicle in the same way DNA can be used to identify a specific person. The letters I, O and Q are never used to avoid confusion when reading the VIN. Heavy-duty trucks also have this vehicle identification number (VIN). Parts of the VIN are standardized, such as the code for country of manufacture and code for the manufacturer. Parts of the VIN are specific to each manufacturer.

Count the digits in the VIN from the title to verify it has 17 characters. If it has less the vehicle was manufactured prior to 1981.

Identify the first character in the VIN. This indicates what country the truck was manufactured in. The following table has the appropriate codes:

1, 4, 5 -- USA made

2 -- Canada made

3, 9 -- Mexico made

6 -- Australia made

J -- Japan made

K -- Korea made

S -- England made

T, W -- Germany made

V -- France made

Y -- Finland, Sweden made

Z -- Italy made

Identify the second character in the VIN. This character identifies the specific manufacturer. The following table has the codes:

1 -- Chevrolet

2 -- Pontiac

3 -- Oldsmobile

4 -- Buick

5 -- Pontiac

6 -- Cadillac

7 -- GM Canada

8 -- Saturn

A -- Audi or Jaguar

B -- BMW or Dodge

C -- Chrysler

D -- Mercedes Benz

F -- Ford

G -- General Motors

H -- Honda

L -- Lincoln

M -- Mercury

N -- Nissan

P -- Plymouth

T -- Toyota

V -- Volvo

Review the VIN table for the specific manufacturer. Items such as gross vehicle weight, body type, assembly plant and engine type are commonly identified by a specific code in a specific location.

Compare the VIN numbers and letters, by position to the correct table. An example for a Ford heavy-duty truck VIN could be 1FTLP62W4WH128703.


  • If the truck was made prior to 1981 the VIN can be decoded by a dealer for that type of vehicle.

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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Dawn Marcotte has been writing for more than 10 years. Her recent writing has turned to nonfiction and includes articles on home and garden, education, crafts and automotive subjects. She currently has several eBooks published and available online. Marcotte has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Iowa.

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