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What is a Vehicle Identification Number?

Autumn Rivers
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a code found on the typical car in order to identify each individual automobile. Every car needs this unique code to help keep track of it, so that it is possible to discern whether it has been stolen, in an accident, or branded as a total loss by an insurance company in the past. The VIN is usually made up of a mixture of 17 numbers and letters, each of which has a certain meaning, such as the country in which the car was made, the year it was manufactured, and the car's serial number, to name a few descriptors. The Vehicle Identification Number is found on the car itself, as well as on the title, registration, and any papers related to insurance for the vehicle.

Since 1981, The Vehicle Identification Number has contained 17 numbers and letters, excluding the letters I, O, and Q. The code is usually found on the left part of the dashboard, the firewall, or on the driver's side door in newer cars. In older cars, it may also be found in the inner arch of the driver's side wheel, the steering wheel column, passenger's side door, or on the engine, to name a few possible areas. The VIN can be broken down into four main parts, each of which concentrates on describing a certain facet of the car.

One of the main parts of the VIN is the World Manufacturer's Identification, or WMI. If the vehicle was made in the United States, Mexico, or Canada, there will be a number in the first part of the WMI to represent the country, while letters are used for other countries. The second character of the WMI is either a letter or number that represents the car's manufacturer, while the third character refers to the type of automobile.

Another area of the Vehicle Identification Number is called the Vehicle Description Section, or VDS, which takes up five characters in the code. This is the description of the car, and it includes the model, series, safety belt system, car body style, and more. If there are a few options when it comes to engine type, the kind that is installed in the car is also noted in this part of the VIN.

The third section of the Vehicle Identification Number is the VIN accuracy check digit. This is a way of checking to make sure the rest of the characters in the VIN are accurate, and involves using a particular formula. After this area comes the final part of the VIN, which is called the Vehicle Identification Section. These characters represent the model year, the assembly plant at which the car was made, and finally, a unique serial number that is made up of six digits. Therefore, no two cars can have the same Vehicle Identification Number.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WikiMotors, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By Talentryto — On Apr 10, 2014
Another handy use of a vehicle VN number is to purchase automobile insurance coverage before you buy a new, used car. When you get the VIN number of an automobile that you are planning to buy, you will be able to give it to your insurance provider and get the coverage you need before you pick up the car. When you do this, you will have the peace of mind in knowing that your vehicle is covered when you get in it and drive it home for the first time.
By Raynbow — On Apr 09, 2014
Using a vehicle's VIN number is a great way to check out a used vehicle before you purchase it. There are several websites available where you can do a VIN number check. By doing this, you can rule out major problems, and be sure that you are making a sound vehicle purchase.
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WikiMotors, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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