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How to Read the VIN Number on a Mazda 3

by Offra Kaim

If you've ever been curious about what those 17 secret digits on a Vehicle Identification Number are all about, look no further. Like your own body's DNA, cars have their own unique DNA as well. Created by the International Organization for Standardization in 1980, individual identification numbers are required on all cars, including the Mazda 3.

Look for a small metal plate on the driver's side where the windshield meets the dashboard. Stamped on it will be your vehicle's VIN.

Write down the numbers and letters of your VIN on a piece of a paper. A VIN consists of six parts that make up its identifying factors. The first three digits are about the manufacturer and where the vehicle was made. The first character shows which country the car was manufactured in, for example: USA (1,4,or 5), Canada (2), Mexico (3), Japan (J), Korea (K), England (S), Germany (W), Italy (Z), Sweden (Y), Australia (6),France (V) and Brazil (9). The second character identifies who manufactured the car. The third character notes what kind of vehicle it is. These three digits make up the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). Some common codes for a Mazda are JM, 1YV, and 4F, denoting that Mazdas are either made in Japan or the USA.

Identify the fourth through the eighth characters. They describe what kind of vehicle you have and will tell you what features come with your specific car, such as the model, body style, trim, engine type, series and sometimes safety features. If you have a Mazda 3, BK should be the first two digits in this section.

Count nine digits into your VIN. This is your check digit number. This is used to prove if your VIN is the actual one assigned to your vehicle or not. It uses a mathematical equation to combine all the letters and numbers in your VIN, aside from the check digit itself.

Find the last eight digits of your VIN. The first identifies the model year your car was made. From 1980 to 2000 letters A through Y were used. From 2000 onwards, numbers replaced the letters. The next digit identifies the assembly plant. The final six characters of the VIN are your vehicle's serial number, simply showing the sequence of the vehicle as it came off the assembly line.


  • VINs do not include the letters I, O and Q.

About the Author

Offra Kaim has been writing since 2001. She has authored staff training-and-instruction manuals, as well as advertising copy for retail and hotel management, real estate and taxation. Kaim holds a real-estate license, and is a member of the National Association of Realtors and a licensed and bonded tax preparer. She has an Associate of Arts in small-business management from Chaffey College.

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