How to Find Vehicle Options Based on the VIN

by Diana Prince
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private car image by Ivonne Wierink from

All vehicles have an identifying number which separates them and helps the Department of Motor Vehicles keep track of information regarding each vehicle during its lifetime. This Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is imprinted onto the vehicle itself, most often on the left side of the dash or on the driver's side door frame. You can read a VIN and determine pertinent information on a vehicle by decoding the single characters and set of characters that make up the 17-digit number.

Step 1

Locate the VIN on the vehicle. Look on the dash, driver's side door frame or front of the engine block, as these are the most likely areas to find it. You can also find the VIN of a vehicle on the insurance card or policy papers, vehicle title and registration.

Step 2

Read the first character of the VIN. This character represents the country in which the vehicle was manufactured.

Step 3

Read the second and third characters of the VIN. These characters represent the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Step 4

Read the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth characters. These characters represent the brand of vehicle, engine size and type of vehicle.

Step 5

Read the ninth character. This character represents a check digit or security code, identifying the VIN as being authorized by the manufacturer.

Step 6

Read the 10th character. This character represents the model year of the vehicle.

Step 7

Read the 11th character. This character represents the plant at which the vehicle was manufactured.

Step 8

Read the 12th through the 17th characters. These characters represent the serial number of the vehicle.

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