Does my car have a VIN? Where is the Vehicle Identification number on my car?

Summary: Your car’s VIN number will give you such information as the make, model number and even in which order it came off the assembly line. The VIN will also identify the car years later if it was ever stolen.

No doubt that if you’ve owned a car you know what VIN numbers are because they appear on the title and other paperwork. A Vehicle Identification Number is also imprinted directly into the driver’s side dashboard of all street legal vehicles at the factory level.

While license plates may come and go, a vehicle’s VIN is for life; it cannot be removed and is impossible to scratch out – at least without it being obvious that you’ve done so. How do vehicle manufacturers prevent duplication of these numbers with other manufacturers? Well, the answer is pretty simple: it’s kind of the same as social security numbers, only instead of basing the numbers solely on region there are other factors which come into play.More…

To keep manufacturers from repeating VINs the numbers are broken down rather thoroughly:

The first number in the series represents the country from which the vehicle came. If the car was manufactured in the United States then the VIN will begin with either a “1” or a “4.” If it came from Canada it would start with a “2” and if it came from Mexico then it would be a “3.” Other manufacturing countries are represented by letters, Japan “J,” Korea “K,” England “S’” German “W,” and Ital “Z.”

The second digit in the VIN is representative of the manufacturer. Every attempt is made to use the obvious first letter of the manufacturer’s name as the second character in the VIN, but when manufacturer’s names begin with the same letter (BMW and Buick or Chevy and Chrysler) an arbitrary number is usually assigned. For example: Audi “A,”
BMW “B,” Buick “4,” Cadillac “6,” Chevrolet “1,” Chrysler “C,” Honda “H,” and Jaguar “A.”

The third character indicates the vehicle type or manufacturing division.

Characters four through eight identifies things such as body style (sedan, minivan, SUV, pick-up, etc.), engine type (number of cylinders, diesel, valves, etc.), model (Regal, Fleetwood, Charger, etc.), series (800A, K), and other defining features.
The ninth character is a check sum – that is, it serves through a mathematical equation using the previous VIN digits to identifies VIN accuracy. If the digits are not entered correctly then the check digit will be wrong – an indication that somewhere in the VIN there has been an error.
The 10th character represents the model year
The 11th character is indicative of the actual plant at which the vehicle was assembled.
The 12th to 17th characters are the numbers which indicate in what order which the vehicle rolled of the assembly line after production.

So is it important to know your car’s VIN? No, not really – unless you’re a collector of vintage cars or a car enthusiast. In that case, know how to decipher a VIN can tell a lot about how collectible the automobile is. You can tell, for instance, when exactly a particular car rolled off the assemble line. If it’s one of the first – or one of the last – it can greatly effect the vehicle’s worth.

Is it important for the Powers That Be know your VIN? Absolutely, if you’re car’s stolen, chopped, and painted it can still be identified by your VIN. A friend of mine in college had his already slick Toyota Tercel stolen then tricked out. Two years later the police called to let him know they’d found it with a brand new sound system, killer tires, and a kick ass paint job – all because of the VIN.

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