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How to Decode VIN Numbers

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A Vehicle Identification Number or “VIN” is a 17-character alphanumeric identifier that is assigned to a new vehicle by its manufacturer. The VIN is similar to a fingerprint in that each vehicle has a unique VIN. Each of the VIN’s 17 characters has a significant meaning, which, when decoded, can help you learn more about your car’s history.

Step 1

Understand your car’s VIN. The VIN can be crucial to tracking recalls, title history, accident reports, thefts, insurance coverage and warranty claims. When decoded, the VIN tells the country and year of manufacture, make, model, serial number; assembly plant and other specifications.

Step 2

Find your car’s VIN. Most owners can easily find their car’s VIN on the title, insurance policy and service records. If you don’t have this documentation for your vehicle, you’ll need to look for the VIN. The VIN is usually located on the driver’s side of the dashboard, where it is visible through the windshield. It may also be on the driver’s side door jamb sticker. In some vehicles, the VIN is displayed on the original engine and hood.