How to Search for Truck Parts Using VIN Numbers

by Johnno CaryUpdated August 06, 2023
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​​A vehicle identification number (VIN) is a serial number that consists of a combination of characters that includes both numbers and letters. If you know how to decode a VIN number, you can determine various details about your truck including its country of origin, manufacturer and manufacturer division, as well as the truck's specs , like the engine size, body type and model year. When searching for parts for your truck, the vehicle VIN will help the auto parts shop you are contacting determine the suitable truck parts for your vehicle; however, only several characters on the VIN have the information required to find the right parts.

Locate your truck's VIN. The VIN will be located on a metal plate or sticker stamped on the driver's-side door jamb or along the edge of the door. If it is not there, it will be displayed on the dashboard. You can view the VIN stamped on a metal plate on the dashboard by looking through the windshield on the driver's side. The VIN is 17 characters long.

Look at the second character. This character determines your truck's manufacturer. This may be a number or a letter, depending on your your truck. For instance, Chevrolet is "1," Ford is "F" and a Dodge is a "B."

Locate the third character, which identifies the type of truck.

Read characters four through eight. The group of five characters identifies your truck's attributes and is very important when looking for parts. This group of characters will tell a shop a truck's features, such as model, series, body style and engine type, as well as any other type of information that applies to your specific truck.

Locate the 10th character to get your truck's year. For instance, if you have a 1990 truck, the 10th character will be a "L." Beginning in 2001, this character became a number, so a 2001 truck will have a "1," 2002 "2" and so on.

There are many online resources like VIN lookup and VIN decoder sites that help you check digits and identify specific information about your car. To find the car parts you are looking for, you can use these identifier numbers to buy parts yourself or ask your local dealership to get for you and your new vehicle. The part numbers generally only deal with broad things like engine blocks, vehicle types and body types, if you’re looking for new steering columns, air conditioning or something more specific, you’ll have to use a car parts shop to help fix your new or used car.


When you are searching for truck parts using a VIN, you will typically need the whole number; however, knowing what each character means can be helpful.

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