Automotive V.I.N. Numbers What Do They Mean
Terry S. Vostor
30 July 2009
V.I.N. V.I.N.s. You will hear this term tossed around frequently by car sales people, auto insurance people among others in the automotive trade. What does the term "VIN" mean and how it is important to you?
The term V.I.N. is short form of "Vehicle Identification Number". It's a unique number that is assigned to your vehicle - be it car, truck, S.U.V., van truck, motorcycle or any other vehicle. Think of the VIN as the Social Insurance Number for your automotive vehicle.
In order to register a vehicle, especially a new vehicle, you will need its V.I.N. In order to insure your vehicle ditto. If your car is stolen it may well be tracked down and identified by this unique listing - it's V.I.N. If you are in the market for a vehicle and do a vehicle history search - say at Carfax or a similar online service and the lookup will all be done by V.I.N. How else could the system work if each vehicle did not have its own unique identifying number? Through such automated systems you can quickly and accurately determine vehicle history since new - a list of owners , any accident reports , has the car been involved in a major accident , been written off , been in a flood , have liens or charges against it , as well as many additional concerns for auto buyers ,financers , and dealers.
How can you determine the V.I.N. of your vehicle? That is easy if have ready access to your registration and insurance documentation. If not, or if you want to confirm the VIN number assignment you can simply find out your vehicles stamp. Simply look through the windshield on the driver's side of the auto at the corner of the dash. It should be clearly stamped on a plate attached to the dash. As well that same designation should be clearly listed on your bill of sale. If the 2 numbers do not match - this could be a sign of future trouble if you are ever involved in a collision and have to deal with auto insurance claims and payment to yourself or your auto body shop.
A short course in how to read a VIN to be of use to you - should you be in the car buying mode, need registration information or want to import a car into Canada. Where an auto is manufactured often determines import duties and taxes.
Reading a V.I.N. First things first look at the first number on the left hand side. This first character designates where the vehicle was built - 1 is the US, 2 is Canada, 3 is Mexico, J for Japan, K for Korea for example.
Next the second character in line designates the manufacturer or who built the car. The letter "G: stands for General Motor or G.M. products. Next is the third character - in this example if the number 2 is the third character - this would indicate the Pontiac division of GM. Characters 4 and 5 indicate the car line series, eight represents the body style for example 2 door coupe, 4 door sedan, hatchback. The seventh character indicates the type of safety restraint system that was installed at the factory. Eight character stands for the engine code - each type of engine has its own stamp. Between the eighth and the last sequence of letters is a check digit - a spacer to prevent confusion. The last sequence of digits is the grouping that singly identifies the vehicle and makes it wholly unique.
Why all this effort in creating this system and nomenclature of listing and describing each car individually. How else could the automotive trades work if they could not id each and every vehicle separately , track it , keep detailed records and lastly allow you as a car , truck , SUV , Van or motorcycle driver to research the past history of your new found vehicle.
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