How to Tell the Year of Car From the Vin Number

by Karren Doll Tolliver

The Vehicle Identification Number is unique for each car manufactured in the United States. Since the 1980s the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required car manufacturers to assign a 17-character VIN to each car made. The allowed characters are all nine digits and all the letters of the alphabet except for I, O and Q. It is possible to determine, among other things, which year a car was made by looking at the VIN, which usually is located on a small metal shield on the dashboard by the windshield on the driver's side of the car.

Step 1

Locate the VIN number of the car in question. It is normally placed on a metal plate on the driver's side of the car inside the windshield on the dashboard. There are other places the VIN appears as well, such as the front of the engine block and the front end of the frame.

Step 2

Make note of the 10th character of the VIN.

Step 3

Compare the tenth character of the VIN to this list to determine its year of manufacture: 1980(A), 1981(B), 1982(C), 1983(D), 1984(E), 1985(F), 1986(G), 1987(H), 1988(J), 1989(K), 1990(L), 1991(M), 1992(N), 1993(P), 1994(R), 1995(S), 1996(T), 1997(V), 1998(W), 1999(X), 2000(Y), 2001(1), 2002(2), 2003(3), 2004(4), 2005(5), 2006(6), 2007(7), 2008(8), 2009(9).

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