Each vehicle that rolls of the assembly line has a unique identifier, like our social security number, that sets it appart from every other vehicle that is called a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). VIN’s are used to track individual car’s from factory to scrap yard. It can be used to track automobile recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts and insurance coverage for each vehicle. Each character or digit has a particular purpose in the identification of the vehicles make, model and features. In the mid 1950’s American automobile manufacturers began stamping and casting identifying numbers on cars and their parts to give an accurate depiction of vehicles when mass production began in significant numbers.
Research shows that early VIN’s came in variations which depended on the individual manufacturer at that time the car was produced. VIN number decoding has become an art and varies from manufacturer and model of vehicle over the years since cars started rolling off the assembly line in large numbers. Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not require vehicles to contain a 17 character Vehicle Identification Number in the early 1980’s establishing the fixed VIN system for major vehicle manufacturers as it is known today, it appears that the hobbyist is left to search among their own particular brand and love of cars. Understanding the car’s VIN has become very popular with car collectors for old vehicles since automobile collectors can confirm a vehicle’s uniqueness, collectability and date of production.
Since car collecting has become a world wide phenomenon and knowing how to read and understand a VIN is a very important aspect we offer the following tips about Vehicle Identification Numbers.
To help understand some common VIN terms here are some definitions. Body Type: The general configuration or shape of a vehicle like the number of doors and windows. Line: A name applied to a family of vehicles within a make which have a degree of commonality in construction. Model: Applies to a group of the same type, make, line, series and body type. Make: The name applied to a group of vehicles or engines. Model Year: The year used to designate a model, irrespective of the calendar year, as long as the period is less than two calendar years. Plant: The plant where the Vehilcle Identification Number is attached. Series: The name applied to a subdivision of a “line” denoting features that manufacturers use for marketing.
Now that you are familiar with the terms used in Vehicle Identification Numbers here are what the numbers mean according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standard. 1st – The country in which the vehicle was manufactured. 2nd – Identifies the manufacturer. 3rd – The vehicle type or manufacturing division. 4th to 8th – Vehicle features such as body style, engine type, model, series, etc. 9th – The VIN accuracy as check digit. 10th – The model year. 11th – Identifies the assembly plant for the vehicle. 12th to 17th – The number of the vehicle for production as it rolled of the manufacturers assembly line.
When looking for your Vehicle Identification Number make sure to check these common locations as location can vary by manufacturer and model. Firewall of the vehicle Machined Pad on front of engine Dash by windshield Radiator Support Bracket Drivers door or post or passenger side Guarantee & Maintenance Book Left hand inner wheel arch Steering column