What is a VIN, and What Does It Say about Your Car?

A VIN in your car is what you need for proper identification. It’s a unique number given to every vehicle, including recreational types and motorcycles, among other artificial locomotives. Knowing more about it is critical since it’s the number that will uncover what you don’t know about your current vehicle.

From knowing your car’s origin to getting more use reports about it, VINs can tell it all. That is why you need to understand what a VIN is and what it will say about that shiny body in your parking lot.

Now, it’s time to learn about the VIN and what it should tell you when you head to a proper decoding and lookup website.

A VIN Explained

Humans have fingerprints. They also have personal items such as your identity card, passport, or social security card. The above are all unique to everyone, and having an identical case may lead to legal disputes.

The cars are no exception, and that is why we are comparing the VIN to the fingerprints or any other document used to identify an individual. A VIN is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number, and it represents a 17-digit code that every car contains.

Manufacturers award it while the vehicle is in assembly and it’s standard globally. The characters have more information about the car, and that is why decoding a VIN is necessary. So, everything from the origin to the car specifications will be there. 

My Car’s VIN is Not 17 Characters

You need to double-check the VIN to ensure that it has 17 digits. We will see how you can do that in the next section. If the digits are not 17 in number, there are two reasons for that. The first one is that it may be a fake VIN.

The second one is that the car may have been manufactured before 1981. Before the VIN standardization, VINs had 11-17 characters. After 1981, every car manufactured since then should have a 17-digit code to represent as the VIN.

The VIN’s Location

Identifying and verifying a VIN is easy if you know where to look. In most cases, you will find it in the following areas:

  • The car’s dashboard on the driver’s side
  • The driver’s door pillar (sometimes on the passenger side too)
  • Under the hood
  • In the engine cabin
  • Car’s registration and insurance records

It’s a good idea to check on all these areas to ensure that the VIN you get is similar all through. Getting a mismatch case means that you don’t have a legit code. Once you have it, the next step is heading to VIN lookup options to see what it entails and if it’s valid or not.

How you look up depends on the website you visit. Some have limited information, while others are detailed. You need to note that most of them, if not all, will help you look up a 17-digit code.

If your car’s digits are less than that, it may be impossible to give you the information you need.

Click Here to Check Official Websites with Chevy VIN Decoder>>

What a VIN Says About Your Car

As we said before, every VIN character has some information to show. In addition, you may also get more car records. That is why you need to double-check the VIN to ensure that what you have belongs to your car.

Now, let’s see what the characters should indicate.

First character

It will tell you where the car is from, and you may get numbers or letters here. For example, vehicles made in England will have an S in the beginning. In Japan, you get a J, while German cars have a W.

For the US motors, they will have 1, 4, or 5.

Second and Third Characters

They signify the manufacturer, the type of vehicle, and the division. The second digit represents the first letter on the manufacturer’s name. B is for BMW, G for GM, and L for Lincoln, just to name a few.

Some manufacturers will have the same letter. If you buy a Jaguar, Mitsubishi, or Audi, they will have an A as the second character. When you combine the first three letters, they give you the WMI (World Manufacturer Identification). 

Fourth to Eighth Characters

These will show you the body type, engine, restraint, model, and transmission. In short, the characters tell you more about the vehicle’s specifications.

The Ninth Character

It’s the character that tells you if the VIN is legit or not. It has a mathematical formula that helps validate the whole VIN to know whether it belongs to the car. So, this is the digit that tells if the VIN is fraud or came from the manufacturer.

Tenth Character

The tenth part represents the year of manufacturing. Between 1981 and 2000, the cars had letters. From 2001 to 2009, what you get is a number. After 2010, the letters came back, and they continue to be in use until 2030. A vehicle manufactured in 2020 will contain an L.

Eleventh Character

Decoding this digit will show you the manufacturing plant. It represents where the assembly happened.

Twelfth to Seventeenth Characters

These characters represent the car’s serial number. It’s a sequence of letters that a vehicle receives while on the assembly line.

Apart from knowing what the characters mean, there is more. Lookup websites will also share the following depending on what’s available and associated with the VIN.

  • The registration details
  • Past ownership
  • Crime and theft reports
  • Lien and repossession details
  • Maintenance
  • Accidents
  • Etc.

When Do You Need the VIN?

A VIN is necessary if you want to know more about a vehicle. You could be owning it or intending to buy it. It may not be essential to check out the VIN for new cars, but the same cannot be said for the used ones.

As we have seen, a VIN will let you know about the car and get the vehicle history report. If you want to know everything from where the vehicle was manufactured to who bought it before you, a VIN should be your friend here.

This number is applicable when gathering more information about a vehicle, exceptionally if the seller is not disclosing everything. You may get a car in good condition, but you still don’t know the underlying constraints.

The last thing you need is a vehicle with too many accidents or too many parts replaced. In worst-case scenarios, you may get a stolen car, or it may have undergone some major catastrophes.


It’s now clear what a VIN is and what it will tell you about your car. You have realized the importance of getting more information since it helps you learn more about your vehicle.

Check out what you have now and head to a reputable website to know more about the vehicle. Ensure that it’s correct by verifying from various sources before looking up more information.

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