Decode the VIN
What the Characters Mean
If you're like most people, you probably think a vehicle identification number (VIN) is just a series of random characters. Actually, each of the characters in this highly structured code has its own meaning. In fact, deciphering these codes is a hobby for some car enthusiasts, including collectors who want to own one of the first or last cars to come off an assembly line.
When you buy a pre-owned vehicle, you might want to check its history. In that case, knowing how to read the VIN could help you make an informed decision before you buy.
A Sample VIN to Decode
Let's take a look at a sample VIN. Vehicles manufactured before 1981 might have fewer characters than today′s standard 17-character VIN.
2 H 2 G P 1 2 P X Y 2 2 0 3 2 4 1
2: The country in which the vehicle was manufactured
H: The manufacturer
2: The make
G-P-1-2-P: Identifies unique characteristics, such as the engine or
X: The check digit, which helps to identify VIN fraud
Y: The model year
2: The assembly location
2-0-3-2-4-1: The production sequence number, indicating the exact point at which the vehicle came off the assembly line
To help you further break down the codes, we have provided a list of model-year codes, as well as a list of the country of origin codes.
Country of Origin Codes
1: United States
4: United States
5: United States
V: France, Germany
Y: Finland, Sweden
If you are not sure where to look for your vehicle's VIN, visit our section on Locating a Vehicle Identification Number.