Locate the Vehicle Identification Number
Finding Your VIN
You can locate your vehicle identification number in a few different places, both off and on your vehicle itself.
Off the Vehicle
If you need to find your VIN, you can first check any documentation you have for the vehicle, such as:
- Vehicle title.
- Registration card.
- Insurance documents.
- Owner's manual.
- Body shop repair records.
- Police reports.
- Vehicle history report or VIN check.
If you don't have the documentation mentioned above, you can find the VIN on the actual vehicle itself.
On the Vehicle
The VIN can often be found on the lower-left corner of the dashboard, in front of the steering wheel. You can read the number by looking through the windshield. The VIN may also appear in a number of other locations:
- Front of the engine block. This should be easy to spot by popping open the hood, and looking at the front of the engine.
- Front of the car frame, near the container that holds windshield washer fluid.
- Rear wheel well. Try looking up, directly above the tire.
- Inside the driver-side doorjamb. Open the door, and look underneath where the side-view mirror would be located if the door was shut.
- Driver-side doorpost. Open the door, and look near the spot where the door latches, not too far from the seatbelt return.
- Underneath the spare tire.
If you still can't locate the VIN, try consulting your vehicle manual. Or, call a dealership or the manufacturer and request guidance. You will need it to do a VIN check.
Recording Your VIN
Once you know your VIN, it's important to record and store the number some place other than in the vehicle. This information is helpful in a number of situations:
- Helping law enforcement officials recover your car, should someone steal it.
- Sellingyour car to someone else and filling out a bill of sale.
- Registering a brand new vehicle, or registering your car in a new state if you've recently moved.
Why Do Vehicles Have VINs?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began requiring standardized VINs in 1954 for all road vehicles.
Vehicles model year 1981 and newer have a VIN made up of 17 characters (letters and numerals). Before that, the VIN length and format varied among vehicles.
The VIN provides clues as to a vehicle's background, including:
- The manufacturer.
- Model year.
- Where it was built.
In other words, the vehicle identification number records the vehicle's identity. To learn what the individual characters in a VIN represent, visit our page on decoding the VIN.