Decoding and Understanding Vehicle Identification Numbers / VIN’s


Hi, I’m Jeremy from 1A Auto and I’m here to
teach you about knowing your VINs. Sounds pretty exciting right? That’s because it is. Before 1981, there was no standardization
of VINs on cars. Before that it could have been ten digits, it could have been five digits,
it could have been whatever the car manufacturer wanted. In 1981, the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration put their foot down and said: “It’s going to be 17 digits from
now on,” and they made all the car manufacturers run with that. That meant that each number within the VIN
meant something specific about that car whether it was their number in a production line or
the color or the trim or the engine size or the year. It all meant something, except for
one of those digits, but we’ll get into that later. The letters I,” O,” and Q” were never
used in VIN numbers from 1981 until today and going forward. That’s because they get
easily confused with the numbers 1 and 0. For the tenth digit of the VIN number, they
never used the letters U” or Z.” Why? I’m not really sure, but that’s what they ran
with. The first three digits of the VIN are known
as the WMI,” which is world manufacturer identifier or the country of origin, the manufacturer,
and the division from that manufacturer. In this case, the 1″ means United States, and
if it was J” it would mean Japan, if it was a 4″ it would mean it was in Canada. This
is the country of where the vehicle was made. The second digit is the manufacturer that
made the vehicle. In this case, General Motors has made different divisions. They have Chevy,
Buick, Oldsmobile, and several others. This would be, I guess you’d call it, a General
Motors hat. Where division, which is the third digit,
is the more specific Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, whatever it is. In this case, we have United
States, General Motors and Chevy. The fourth through the eighth right here is
called the attributes of the VIN. Those include things like safety, engine sizes, which series
the vehicle is. In this case, the fourth digit is safety, braking, and suspension, so if
you have a heavy duty truck with like eight lug wheels and it’s something really serious
towing package that sort of thing, this is the digit that will tell you: “Hey, this vehicle
has like a special suspension and braking package.” It also does things for safety.
If you had a special safety restraints in some of the cars, for some reason that is
the digit that would tell you. The fifth digit, in this case an S,” is the
series. In the 1980s, for example, General Motors made full size trucks that were the
C” and K” series and R” and V” series. This just basically meant two-wheel drive or four-wheel
drive, but it was several different series. In this case, we have an S” series, which
happens to be an S10 series truck, although they don’t usually connect like that. The sixth digit is, along with the seventh
digit, the body style. If it was convertible or a two door or a four door, whatever that
body style is, that is what the sixth and the seventh digit represent. The eighth digit, in this case a Z,” is one
of my favorites: it’s the engine size. If you go to a junkyard, for example, and you
want to know what engine is under the hood of this car, rather than opening the hood,
you can go to this thing, and if you know that you’re looking for a Z” engine, then
you see a Z” in the eighth digit and boom, you got what you want. This is really helpful
for vehicles that had two different engines during the same year, so like a S10, for example,
a Blazer, something like that could have a 4.3-liter that was a Z series” or a W series.” They had totally different parts attached
to them, so when you’re buying engine parts for those trucks, you need to make sure you
know if you have the Z series” or a W series” engine. The ninth digit right here is called
a check digit. They called it a check digit because the purpose of it is to check the
rest of the VIN to make sure it’s legit. You do this by putting it through some complex
math which you can find on the internet if you browse around for it. You hopefully come
out with the right number. You input numbers throughout the VIN, and through the math,
it spits out a number and hopefully it’s the right one. Hopefully it’s a 3″ in this case.
If it comes out as a 5,” you know that these other numbers in the VIN are not legit, somebody
made up this VIN. The tenth digit, right here, is the year,
which is amazingly helpful if you’re in a junkyard or showing off to your friends or
something like that, or if you want to seem like you’re magical. You can figure out how
the years match to which letters and which numbers by this simple handy dandy chart,
and you’ll always know what year the vehicle is. In this case, for the tenth digit, we
have M,” so you come over to the chart. M” is a 1991. It’s always a 1991. If you have
this chart, which I’ll make sure you can print out on this page, you can always know what
year a vehicle is. It’s great in the junkyard because you can walk to a VIN and say: “Oh
this is a 1988, it’s in VIN J.” You know you have the right or wrong part. Really, really
helpful. You can print it out, throw it in your wallet, and show off to your friends. The eleventh digit is the plant. That’s where
the vehicle’s made. All of the Corvettes were made in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This letter
will tell you: “Oh, this was made in Bowling Green, Kentucky” or maybe they were made in
Lansing, Michigan or maybe Detroit, Michigan or who knows where, Illinois. It could be
made anywhere, and this is the digit that tells you which plant it was made at. The last six digits, right here, are the production
line numbers. Most vehicle manufacturers start with the number 100001,” that’s what they
start with the last six digits, and they go up from there. This normally is not an important
number as far as buying parts, unless you have one of those vehicles that changed production
specifications like halfway through a production line. You might have a vehicle that had different
mirrors in April of 2004 then it did in August of 2004. If you have one of those vehicles,
you need to know this production number which is really this production number. That pretty much wraps up VINs. Hopefully
you learned something today. Hopefully you enjoyed watching the video. If you did, let
me know, and maybe we’ll do some more for you. All right, thanks.

42 thoughts on “Decoding and Understanding Vehicle Identification Numbers / VIN’s

  1. Thanks for the video man – love "1aauto" always wondered bout the thos no. 🙂 now i no – can you guys do a video on how to repair the fogs in a 02 monte carloLS

  2. Any information on older vehicles? I just bought a 1977 ford truck and it has 11 digits. It is very frustrating because I can not find any information on it on any website. Would you be as kind as to help me out or point me in the right direction? I appreciate the video though, it is very informative.

  3. hi everyone ,if anyone else trying to find out car vin history try Ichordo Vehicle History Fixer (do a google search ) ? Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my partner got great results with it.

  4. so my 8th number on my motorcycle is a 3 which is my engine size i understand? what does the 3 convert to? what size engine i got?

  5. Nice Video clip! Excuse me for the intrusion, I would appreciate your initial thoughts. Have you heard about – Saankramer Vehicle Statement System (do a google search)? It is a good exclusive product for discovering how to get a vehicle history report minus the headache. Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my good mate called Gray finally got excellent results with it.

  6. Kudos for the Video clip! Forgive me for chiming in, I would love your thoughts. Have you ever tried – Saankramer Vehicle Statement System (erm, check it on google should be there)? It is a good exclusive guide for discovering how to get a vehicle history report minus the normal expense. Ive heard some great things about it and my friend finally got cool results with it.

  7. 1=USA 2=Canada 3= Mexico 4=USA 5= USA there are double Y’s in 99 percent of every corvette ever made in the 6th and 7th digit. Just FYI. More useless information and yet there is so much more I happen to know.

  8. Thanks man. I learned all this years ago in automotive school, but since have drank most of any info I ever learned..out, Hahahaha!

  9. hi everyone ,if anyone else trying to find out free vin verification try Ichordo Vehicle History Fixer (just google it ) ? Ive heard some pretty good things about it and my mate got excellent success with it.

  10. I have a 2007 Nissan Murano and the vin number starts with a J does that mean the car was on a ship and shipped from japan to America

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