A VIN is essential to a car, just like your ID or fingerprints. It tells the car owners more about a vehicle, which is vital for many reasons. As we look into it, you need to understand what the number means and where to check.
There is much to tell from a VIN and you as a car owner need to access the information. Where do you start, though? Let’s see where you can get and decode. You will also have a basic understanding of what to expect from the VIN characters.
What’s a VIN, and How Can You Find It?
A VIN is simply a 17-digit alphanumeric code that is printed on certain hidden parts for security reasons. It defines the car so, it’s like a vehicle’s DNA. When decoded, it will show you the car’s prototype and more supporting information, which is crucial if the car is already used.
Reading the information needs the help of a decoder, although you need to know what the characters signify before checking out. You can search for a provider of VIN lookup on the internet or contact your car dealer to do it for you.
If you are buying the car, you can ask for the VIN and check it out yourself. You may get limited information, though, and you need to check with the laws before heading online. As you check, it’s essential to note the number of characters.
They should be 17 in total and identical in all the places you will be checking. Some of the best VIN sources from your car can include the following:
- On the engine block
- Under the hood
- Near the dashboard on the driver’s side
- Under the spare tire
- On the driver’s door pillar
- In recent cars, you’ll also find it on the transmission or the electronic system.
- The car’s logbook
- Insurance cards
- Registration documents
On a motorbike, you can check on the steering neck on the right side below the handles. At times, you will also see it near the engine or on it. Whether you are checking on the automotive or its documents, the characters need to be similar all through.
The Importance of VIN
You need to check a VIN for several reasons. If it’s a new car, you will want to know if the specifications on paper match what the manufacturer intended. For the used ones, there are many things to learn from a VIN.
Apart from what the characters contain, you will also get the history, and that’s another part of the information you will need. You’ll learn more about the past owners, repairs, mileage, accidents, crime involvement, etc.
You don’t want to deal with the unknown after buying because you didn’t have the complete information.
Understanding What the VIN Means
The VIN looks like a random code of 17 characters, but it’s not. Each of them has an embedded meaning which relates to manufacturer information. Here is a reflection of what you should expect once you decode the number:
- First character: The first digit shows the car’s origin in terms of the region.
- 1-5: North America
- 6 or 7: Australia or New Zealand
- 8 or 9: South America
- A-H: Africa
- J-R: Asia (O and Q are exempted)
- S-Z: Europe
- Second and Third Characters: The second one will tell about the manufacturer, while the third signifies the division.
- 1: Chevrolet
- 6: Cadillac
- J: Jeep
- T: Toyota
- Fourth to Eighth Characters: They will show the car’s model, transmission, safety, engine type, and size. It’s also worthy to note that the second, third, and eighth digits will show the car’s fuel flexibility.
- Ninth Character: It’s there to detect if the VIN is valid or not. There is a mathematical formula used on this character to determine the legitimacy of the VIN.
- Tenth Character: It carries the car’s year of make. It could be a number or letter, depending on when the car came into the market. For example, between 2010 and 2030, the alphabets will be in use, from A to Z, except I, O, Q and Z to avoid confusion with numbers 0, 1, and 2.
- Eleventh Character: This one is for the plant where the car met the assemblers. It’s a number or letter that is specific to the manufacturer.
- Twelfth to Seventeenth Characters: This part is for the car’s serial number. It’s awarded to every vehicle while on the assembly line. You can also call it the sequence number.
What Should I Do If My VIN Is Incorrect?
If you have noticed that the characters are not similar, something is missing. It means that the car is either stolen or was involved in a crime that is best when covered.
You may notice the following on the car or its paperwork:
- The VIN is altered
- It’s scratched
- The VIN you have belongs to another vehicle
Either of the three or more cases means somebody cooked things up before presenting the car for sale. If that’s the case, you should contact your seller, the car dealership, or the manufacturer.
Involving the law is also okay, and that’s why going to the motor vehicle registration departments is a wise move. Other entities you can contact include the police and your insurance company.
With the above information, you know where to check for the VIN and also decode. You can use different websites and compare the results to see if you are getting the same thing for the latter.
Always ensure that you have the correct characters before heading to a lookup platform. There may not be much trouble for the new cars, but you need to double-check for the used ones.
Decoding yourself will take all the time in the world. On the other hand, you need to understand what the characters signify since it’s standard all over.
All the best in decoding the VINs you have!