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How to Read a Japanese Vehicle Identification Number

by Daryl Potter

The vehicle identification number (VIN) for all Japanese-model vehicles follows an established international standard. Knowing what each individual character in the VIN represents will give you information on the vehicle's manufacturing specifications.

Reading a Japanese VIN

Locate and record the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the lower right-hand corner of the vehicle's windshield.

Identify the first character of the VIN. This character represents the country in which the vehicle was manufactured. Depending on the location of the vehicle manufacturer's plants, Japanese-model vehicles may have been produced in other regions. Common characters include "1" or "4" for the United States, "J" for Japan, and "W" for Germany.

The second character of the VIN represents the manufacturer of the car. For Japanese-model vehicles, common characters include "H" for Honda, "N" for Nissan, and "T" for Toyota.

The third through eighth characters of the VIN represent the vehicle's specifications such as model, body type and engine type. These characters are typically assigned by the manufacturer according to their own numbering guidelines.

Skip the ninth character of the VIN. This character is inserted into the VIN to verify the accuracy of the previous eight characters.

Identify the 10th character of the VIN. Characters first cycle through the alphabet (A-H, J-N, P, R-T, W-Y) and then the numbers (1-9) to represent the vehicle model's year. With 30 possible characters, "A", for example, represents the year 1980 and 2010.

The 11th character of the VIN represents the location of the plant where the vehicle was manufactured.

The 12th through 17th characters of the VIN represent the vehicle's sequence number as it was completed at the plant.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Daryl Potter has been writing since 2005. His coverage of U.S. public policy and politics has appeared in several academic journals. Potter holds a B.A. in political science from the University of San Diego, as well as a master's degree in international relations.

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