VIN Numbers

You hear people talk about VIN numbers all of the time on their cars, right? I think you have an idea of what it is .. but you’re not really quite sure what the specifics are; am I right?

Whether a car is in the back of an Auto Salvage Yard or in the front of a dealership, it’s going to have its own unique VIN number. The reason every car needs a VIN number is because people need to identify if it’s been stolen, if it’s been in an accident, who’s owned it before, and if the car is categorized as a total loss by an insurance company. The whole VIN number is typically made up of about 17 different numbers and letters. Each of the different characters holds a special meaning.

You can find the VIN number on the car itself, on the title of the vehicle, the registration, some Used Car Parts that may or may have not fallen off, and on the rest of the paperwork relating to the car.

Ever since 1981, VIN numbers have had 17 numbers and letters - this excludes the letters I, O, and Q. You can find the code on either the left part of your dashboard, the firewall, or on the driver’s side door if you have a newer car. If you have an older car (like from before the millennium), you can find the number in either the inside arch if the driver’s side wheel, the steering wheel column, passenger's side door, or on the engine - these are only a few areas that it can be found in.

One of the main parts of the VIN is the World Manufacturer's Identification - you may know it as WMI. If the car was either made in the United States, Mexico, or Canada, there’s going to be a number in the VIN that will come in the first part if the WMI in order to represent & identify the country. There’s different letters that are used for different countries; if we were looking at Japan, then their letter would be J.

I think it’s easy enough, right?

The second character that’s in the WMI can either be a letter or a number that is there in order to represent the car manufacturer. The character after that (the third one), refers to the type of car that it is. Whether it’s a sedan or a truck, that number/letter represents it.

There’s another part of the VIN that’s called the Vehicle Description Section - it takes up a total of 5 characters in the sequence. These whole 5 characters are there to describe the car. It includes everything from the model and series to the seat belt system and the car body style.

The third section (the last section), is the VIN accuracy check digit. Just like we need to double-check our work, this is a way that the computers make sure that the different numbers and letters in the rest of the VIN are accurate. There’s a whole formula behind it; I know - I didn’t know they needed formulas for these things either. These final characters are read as the numbers the represent the model year of the vehicle, the assembly plant where the car was made, and finally, a unique serial number sequence that is made up of six digits.

Because of all the different information that a VIN number carries, there is no way that two cars can have the same VIN number.