What is in a chassis number? Methods to decipher the vehicle identification number, your automobile's unique fingerprint

Every vehicle built after 1981 has one unique vehicle identification number, or chassis number. The location of this sequence of letters and numbers varies, but it surely is found somewhere on every automobile, SUV, motorcycle and truck – normally on a small metal sign or sticker.

VIN numbers serve many purposes. They help consumers Learn more concerning the history of a used automobileincluding whether it was stolen or determining whether discounts for a certain electric vehicle can be found. This code appears within the paperwork required for all the things from insuring your automobile to selling it.

I'm researching data standards and have become concerned about VIN numbers after I was researching my book about them Cultural history of the barcode.

Like barcode numbers, the characters of a chassis number are standardized. You can tell a story in the event you know what to search for.

A series of numbers and letters with the heading
Lots of information is packed into these 17 characters.
The conversation USA, CC BY-SA

What VINs can let you know

VINs can convey at the least seven pieces of data.

  1. Origin
    If a VIN number begins with 1, 4 or 5, it means it’s a vehicle assembled within the USA Many other countries have their very own unique identifier. For example, a 2 means the vehicle was made in Canada; a J stands for Japan.

  2. Manufacturer
    The second and third characters indicate the manufacturer. In some cases the code corresponds to a series of vehicles that’s now owned by a bigger company. Dodge and Jeep, now a part of Stellantis, each have their very own. This also applies to Lincoln became a division of Ford Motor Co. in 1922.

  3. Description
    The fourth through eighth characters provide several details, comparable to: B. Body type and engine type.

  4. Security
    The ninth character is a “check digit” determined by a complex mathematical equation based on the remaining numbers and letters of the VIN. This digit, either a number or the letter X, is used to authenticate that the VIN will not be a fake.

  5. Year
    The tenth character indicates the model yr. There is just one slot for this and never all letters and numbers are used, which results in repetition. An R could signal each 2024 or 1994For example.

  6. Factory
    The eleventh character indicates the precise factory where the vehicle was assembled.

  7. serial number
    The last six characters of the VIN form a serial number that distinguishes the vehicle from all other vehicles manufactured at the identical factory and of the identical type and model yr.

A drawing of a car with the caption
The locations of car identification numbers vary, but are generally positioned in one among 4 locations.
The conversation USA, CC BY-SA

Find more information

Only experts can use the chassis number to find out where a vehicle was assembled or what kind of engine it has. But there may be help.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides practical help VIN decoder. When I plugged my vehicle's VIN into the decoder, the web site appropriately determined that my SUV was a 2011 Subaru Forester with an automatic transmission.

Of course I already knew all of this.

What I didn't realize was that it weighs between 4,000 and 5,000 kilos, has a 2.5-liter engine, and has side airbags to guard the driving force and front and rear seat passengers. I also learned that this Subaru Forester was assembled in Gunma, Japan.

These details were invisible to me as a consumer, but since I purchased my Forester in 2018, they were easily accessible. Somehow I had driven this automobile well over 100,000 miles without realizing that the number on the side of my driver's seat contained some history.

Before I purchased the Forester, I gave it an inspection, regardless that I didn't know my VIN would reveal a lot free online system to make sure that it wasn't stolen.

Of course, VIN numbers don't let you know all the things you wish to learn about a vehicle, comparable to what color it was when it rolled off the assembly line. But in the event you can do a bit of deciphering and use widely available online tools, they really contain vital information.

Where is your VIN and what’s it for?

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