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  • Decode the VIN

    Get detailed Vehicle History Report in 3 Easy Steps

    1. Enter Your VIN:

    What the Characters Mean

    Decode the VIN

    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
    body style

    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.

    Model-Year Codes

    J: 1988

    K: 1989

    L: 1990

    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

    Country of Origin Codes

    1: United States
    2: Canada
    3: Mexico
    4: United States
    5: United States
    6: Australia
    9: Brazil
    J: Japan
    K: Korea
    S: England
    T: Germany
    V: France, Germany
    W: Germany
    Y: Finland, Sweden
    Z: Italy

    If you are not sure where to look for your vehicle's VIN, visit our section on Locating a Vehicle Identification Number.