Cars have evolved considerably since their creation. However, every vehicle still has a VIN, which is the official identity of a car. An automobile’s VIN contains a lot of information that can help determine the country and year of manufacture of your car while allowing you to detect fraud.
Removing or altering a VIN is illegal in most states, and understanding the VIN can help you avoid costly purchases if it had been tampered with on the vehicle you want to buy. To help protect cars from theft, some dealerships offer VIN engraving, in which the car’s VIN is engraved in other places on the vehicle. Knowing where and what the VIN is can help you find your car’s year and additional information is only a matter of minutes.
What is a VIN on a car?
VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number and is a common word in the automotive industry. Like a fingerprint, each VIN varies to uniquely identify a specific vehicle and its history. It consists of 17 digits, including both capital letters and numbers. To avoid confusion, certain characters are omitted from VINs. Understanding specific sections can help you decode it and identify important information about your vehicle.
While it’s good to know what that means, you also need to know where to find the VIN on your car. It can be found in several places. The first place you can look is usually the driver’s side of the dashboard. You can also find the VIN on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb, vehicle title, vehicle registration, or your insurance card.
How to know the year of your car with the VIN
VINs were not standardized until 1981. Therefore, decoding the VIN of many modern cars is straightforward if you know what each digit means. For example, to find the year of your car using the VIN, look at the tenth digit of the number.
According Auto Zone VIN to Year Chartcars with any of the 20 letters used in the tenth digit indicate the year 1980 to 2000 and 2010 to 2030. If you have a number from 1 to 9 as the tenth digit of your VIN, your car’s year will be either 2001 to 2009 or 2031 to 2039.
Since the letter and number patterns repeat, it can be difficult to determine the exact year just by looking at a VIN. Since vehicle styling changes dramatically over the years, it’s usually obvious to tell if your car is a 1983 or 2013 if the tenth digit of the VIN is a D.
Other Telltale Information Found in Your Car’s VIN
In addition to indicating the year your car was produced, additional information is found in the 17 digits that make up a VIN, such as the make, model, and serial number of the vehicle. Since many can identify this information by the emblems or body style of the car, checking the VIN can ensure that everything is checked before buying a used car.
If you’re curious about the manufacture of a car, the first, second, and third digits of a vehicle’s VIN make up the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). The eleventh digit of the VIN also indicates the manufacturing plant that built your car.
Another important VIN digit to look at is the ninth, as this is a security code used to detect fraudulent VINs. Since the number varies due to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s mathematical formula, it can be difficult for the average person to spot a fraudulent VIN by looking at the number. Fortunately, many online VIN decoders can help you find any issues with your car’s VIN.
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