VIN Decoder & Lookup

What is a VIN Decoder?

The VIN Decoder is a tool that helps car buyers and owners use the VIN to obtain detailed information about a specific vehicle. VIN decoder is helpful when buying a used car. Ideally, the decision to buy a used car is a big deal that can be frustrating. Never expect the seller of a vehicle to be honest. Even some of these sellers are unaware that the vehicle they are trying to sell had been involved in an accident in the past. However, the history of the vehicle can only be unlocked by looking up the VIN. Get a vehicle history report before you invest thousands of dollars, saving you wasted time and money. Overall, the VIN search makes the car buying process more transparent and removes any doubts you have about your vehicle. To use the VIN check tool, you need to enter the VIN of the vehicle you are interested in, in the VIN search bar and click the “Check VIN” button.

What is a VIN Number?

VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number. A VIN is a 17-digit code consisting of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies a vehicle. Every VIN code is different, which is why it is such a valuable number, and every car has its own unique VIN number when it is built. Each section of the VIN contains specific information about the vehicle, including make, model, year, country, assembly plant, and serial number. VIN number is also known as chassis number or serial number.

Note that there are no letters “O”, “I” and “q” in any VIN to avoid confusion with the numbers 0, 1, and 9. If your vehicle was built before 1981, the VIN can be less than 17 characters. For antique or classic vehicles built before 1981, the VIN number can also contain 10 or 13 digits.

Why does a VIN matter?

The VIN number is important for the following reasons.

  •  In some cases, you will need to check the VIN of the vehicle as it is used by many information registries to record details about the vehicle. This unique VIN is used to track the entire life cycle of a specific vehicle from the point of sale to the original owner. All events, readings, maintenance, and repair records are stored by using the VIN number. 
  •  Using the VIN decoder, you can find important information about your vehicle’s past, search for auto parts, and find window stickers for any vehicle. 
  • When you buy a used car, you want to make sure you get what you paid for. You can perform a VIN lookup to get a VIN report and make sure the car is safe to buy and free from any malicious activity.
  •  Law enforcement agencies utilize VINs to identify stolen vehicles. 
  • Automakers use VINs to issue recalls, and auto repair shops use VINs to record vehicle service visits.

What vehicles can VIN Decode?

The VIN system does not cover all vehicle types in the USA. Here are the few ones that are required to have a VIN.

  • Cars;
  • SUVs;
  • Pickups;
  • Motorcycles;
  • Recreational vehicles;
  • Vans;
  • Buses;
  • ATVs;
  • Commercial Trucks;
  • RV and Motorhome;
  • Mopeds/ Scooters;

Where to find the vehicle’s VIN?

The VIN number can be found on the vehicle or in the documentation. It should be the same whether it’s on the document or on the vehicle. It is important to make sure that the VIN on the record matches the VIN on the vehicle, especially if you are buying a used car. Depending on the vehicle type, your vehicle’s VIN number can be found in several locations of a  car, motorcycle, ATV, and semi-trailers.

  • On most passenger cars, you can find the VIN on the inside of the dashboard on the driver’s side (viewable through the windshield). You can also find it under the hood on the front of the engine block in gasoline cars. It can also be found on the driver’s side door pillar. On older cars, the VIN can be seen above the front end of the frame, above the wheels.

 

VIN number
  • A motorcycle’s VIN is usually located on the steering neck under the handlebars, but sometimes on the engine or on the frame near the engine. 
  • ATV VIN locations differ by the manufacturers but mostly, VIN is attached to the open area under the shifter on the left frame of the ATV. The ATV VIN can also be located on the left side of the frame, under the engine, or in a slot on the plastic hood.
  • The VIN number of the semi-trailer is located on the left side of the front of the semi-trailer.

If you can’t find the VIN number on your vehicle, you should be able to find it on the vehicle’s various paperwork which includes:

  • Vehicle’s title
  • Insurance card
  • Owner’s manual
  • Vehicle’s registration card
  • Police reports
  • Reports from repair shops

How to decode a VIN Number?

The following infographic shows the VIN number breakdown.

VIN Decoder

The 17 digits VIN can be divided into three parts:

  1.  World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI);
  2. Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS);
  3. Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS);

World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI):

This section is represented by the first three digits of the VIN number. it represents the country in which the vehicle was built, the vehicle manufacturer, and the vehicle type. 

The first character in the VIN code represents the country where the vehicle was manufactured. Some of the country codes include:

  • 1, 4, 5: United States
  • 2: Canada
  • 9: Brazil
  • 3A-37: Mexico
  • J: Japan
  • K: South Korea
  • S: England
  • VF-VR: France
  • WA-W0: West Germany
  • Y: Finland, Sweden

The second character represents the vehicle’s manufacturer. The most common are:

  • A: Alfa Romeo
  • B: Dodge
  • C: Chrysler
  • D: Daihatsu
  • E: Eagle
  • F: Ford/ Eagle
  • G: All General Motors vehicles
  • H: Honda / Acura
  • J: Jeep
  • L: Lincoln
  • M: Mitsubishi
  • N: Nissan / Infiniti
  • P: Plymouth
  • S: Subaru
  • T: Toyota / Lexus
  • V: Volkswagen

Other popular auto manufacturers use a 3-character initial sequence:

  • TRU / WAU: Audi
  • 4US / WBA / WBS: BMW
  • 2HM / KMH: Hyundai
  • SAJ: Jaguar
  • SAL: Land Rover
  • 1YV / JM1: Mazda
  • WDB: Mercedes-Benz
  • VF3: Peugeot
  • WP0: Porsche
  • YK1 / YS3: Saab
  • YV1: Volvo

Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS):

 This section consists of the next six digits and indicates the vehicle’s make, body style, engine size and type, model, series, etc. 

Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS):

The last section is represented by the remaining eight characters. The 9th character checks if the VIN is valid, the 10th character indicates the model year, and the 11th character shows the car’s factory code (set by each manufacturer). The last six characters represent the vehicle’s production number (serial number). The production number is unique to each manufacturer and this number usually indicates the order in which the vehicle was released from the production line.

As shown above, the 10th character of the VIN represents the model year.

  • A: 1980 or 2010
  • B: 1981 or 2011
  • C: 1982 or 2012
  • D: 1983 or 2013
  • E: 1984 or 2014
  • F: 1985 or 2015
  • G: 1986 or 2016
  • H: 1987 or 2017
  • J: 1988 or 2018
  • K: 1989 or 2019
  • L: 1990 or 2020
  • M: 1991
  • N: 1992
  • P: 1993
  • R: 1994
  • S: 1995
  • T: 1996
  • V: 1997
  • W: 1998
  • X: 1999
  • Y: 2000
  • 1: 2001
  • 2: 2002
  • 3: 2003
  • 4: 2004
  • 5: 2005
  • 6: 2006
  • 7: 2007
  • 8: 2008
  • 9: 2009

 

What information can you get from VIN Decoder?

With the VIN decoder service, you can get the following important information:

  • Number of previous owners
  • Reported Odometer Readings
  • Vehicle specifications
  • Accidents History
  • Service and repair history
  • Lien & Repossession Records
  • Mileage rollback
  • Title checks
  • Theft records
  • Flood, Hail, and Fire Damage
  • Insurance records
  • Market Value
  • Recalls & Defects
  • Warranty status
  • Personal, Taxi or Police Use
  •  other important information about the car

If you don’t have the VIN, you can go ahead and run a free license plate lookup tool to get the same report.

What is VIN cloning?

VIN cloning is an illegal activity in which scammers take advantage of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of a legally registered car of the same model and manufacturer to hide the fact that they are selling a stolen or salvaged car or a car with a bad history. Thousands of stolen vehicles in the United States may have cloned VINs. However, the government cannot get exact numbers because not all cases have been detected or reported.

How can VIN cloning affect you?

VIN cloning can be destructive for you personally in many ways. Cars with VIN clones are registered with the DMV in another state. Anyone who unknowingly buys a car with a cloned VIN is at the risk of losing the car. Once it is determined that the VIN of your recently purchased vehicle has been cloned, your vehicle will be impounded and returned to its rightful owner. Even if the authorities confiscate the car as evidence, the buyer will owe any outstanding car loan. 

Also, if the car in question was being used for a crime, you may have to go through a lot of hoops (besides a lot of money) to prove you’re not the one who committed the crime.

How to identify cloned vehicles?

The following are warning signs that may indicate VIN cloning and you must avoid buying a vehicle if you notice any suspicious activity. 

  • Much cheaper price compared to similar makes and models of cars 
  • The VIN plate may show signs of tampering
  • Vehicle inspection findings do not match with the documents and VIN check findings

How to avoid VIN Cloning?

Generally, no one wants to be a victim of VIN cloning. This means you need to take precautions to save yourself from VIN cloning. These tips will help you to avoid buying a vehicle with cloned VIN.

  • When buying a car from a private seller, check the VIN via vehicle history report
  • Have a mechanic for vehicle inspection
  • Do a VIN check at your local DMV office.
  • Be suspicious of deals that sound too good to be true
  • Check the dashboard VIN plate for signs of tampering
  • Meet the seller at an appropriate location. The best location is the address given on the registration documents. If the seller is a dealer, it should be at their store or business location. This is a way of verifying that the seller is the owner or has the authority to sell on the owner’s behalf.
  • Review paper records for spelling errors or other suspicious information on the title or other documents.
  • If you believe your car has been cloned (for example, if you have been notified of an unpaid parking ticket that does not belong to you), contact your local police department

VIN Decoder by Manufacturer