How to find the VIN number on a car? What does the VIN number mean and maybe most importantly, how to interpret it?
These and similar questions usually appear when you have some kind of vehicle registration, repair, or else.
With these, the VIN number is a key factor.
This article should give you some insight into the whole matter and perhaps make it easier to understand.
If you’re not in the mood for reading, you have a video tutorial at the end of the article. You can also watch the video on our YouTube channel.
1. WHAT IS A VIN NUMBER IN A CAR?
The VIN number which stands for Vehicle Identification Number is a unique identifying code that’s given to every vehicle after manufacturing.
In more simple terms, it’s the ID number of your car.
By standard, it contains a combination of 17 letters and numbers.
2. HOW TO DECODE A VIN NUMBER?
Decoding in this case means actually understanding what each and every digit in the sequence stands for.
This is in fact the most important information besides how to find the VIN number on a car.
Knowing this enables you to really understand the whole topic.
To give you an idea we’ll show an example on our Skoda Fabia (follow the picture above):
- Digit 1,2,3 are the manufacturer’s identification code
- 4 is body type and equipment level
- 5 is the engine type
- 6 is the safety system (in this case the number of airbags)
- 7,8 are the model code
- 9 is the check number
- 10 is the model year
- 11 is the place of assembly
- 12 to 17 is the actual serial number of the car.
Again, this is for the Skoda Fabia mk1 but this sequence of the digits is standardized for all vehicles.
The difference is in the manufacturer code, model code, or else but the sequence is mostly the same.
If you however encounter difficulties, try looking for your car specifically, maybe best on the internet.
All in all, you should be able to use this sequence to decode the VIN number on almost any car.
Also, you can see that you can get quite an amount of important data from the VIN number.
3. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW THIS?
The most important reasons for knowing this would be:
- Legislation and registering the vehicle
In almost any country in the world, registering your car is impossible without the VIN number. It is the key piece of information and identification.
It’s the same with insurance. Without the VIN, at least to my knowledge, no insurance company will insure the car.
- For spare parts
The VIN number is a key factor for finding any spare parts for your car. As you’ll see, the moment you ask for any spare part at the store, the seller will probably ask you for the VIN number.
According to that, you should get the right part.
- For repairs
In most modern garages and repair shops checking the VIN is the first thing to do before starting any repair.
The VIN number gives them a lot of useful information and insight about your car, engine, car body, maintenance history, and other information that can be a huge help with the repair but also with spare parts.
4. HOW TO FIND THE VIN NUMBER ON A CAR?
The location of the VIN number is more or less standardized for all vehicles although there are differences.
Know that some locations may be less visible. I think this is for practical reasons, mainly for additional inspections and checks but also to prevent any future misuse of the car body.
On this part I urge you to watch the video tutorial, you’ll get surely get a better picture.
The most common places where you can find the VIN number are:
- On the dashboard, on the driver’s side.
The VIN number is usually tucked in the corner, just under the windshield. It’s made this way so it can be easily seen and checked from the outside.
- In the engine bay stamped somewhere on the car body.
In the case of the Skoda, it’s near the suspension strut but for other cars, it can also be stamped on the firewall or other places.
- Various parts of the car body
It can be stamped on the floor, the door jamb, somewhere in the trunk, or elsewhere. It’s usually stamped on the parts that are not meant to be replaced and welded.
- Various metal identification plates
Most cars have additional engraved plates usually riveted somewhere within the engine bay, on the divers side door jamb, or else.
- Car documents
If you take a look at any of the important documents of your car like the registration proof, insurance, and other documents it will contain the VIN number.
It’s also good to know that you won’t find the VIN number on any parts of the car body which are easily replaced or meant to be replaced like the doors, hood, sills, or else.
5. WHERE CAN YOU CHECK THE VIN NUMBER?
Some of the most important reasons why a VIN number should be checked are:
- That the car is legal
- That it hasn’t been involved in any kind of fraud, accident, or else
- If possible to get some accurate information on the history and maintenance of the car
Checks are done mostly on used cars. This is because used cars are more susceptible to all kinds of manipulation and therefore a check is highly recommended.
Sometimes it’s even obligatory when buying a used car.
If you want to learn more about how to buy a used car, click here to read an article made specifically on this topic.
On new cars, there is seldom any need for checking the VIN number.
Some of the most common places where you can make a check are:
- Police stations, customs offices, and other legislative institutions
- Insurance and registration companies
- Mechanics or garages
- Licensed dealerships
- Specialized websites (which are immensely popular and widely used)
In some of these places, you’ll have to submit a request, you’ll have to explain why you need this information, for some you’ll have to pay a fee, sometimes you’ll have to wait to get the needed data back, and so on.
But whatever the case, it’s worth waiting and paying for quality and trustworthy information.
On this part, I would recommend that you visit your local legislative institutions as these have, in most cases, the most accurate database which is connected worldwide.
If there’s any problem with the number, they should be the first to know it.
One more thing: if you want to be double safe, then make a check in two or three places and cross-reference the information. If the information comes out the same, then the car is probably OK.
Having some basic knowledge about how to find the VIN number on a car but also about these other related topics is almost necessary.
You will know more about your car but also how and where to check it if needed,
Besides this, it will come in very handy when for instance buying a used car. You may perhaps also save yourself or others from some serious headaches and future big problems.
Also, this important number gives you some useful insights and truths about your car not to mention the fact that it can help with repairs and spare parts.
All in all, very good and useful reasons to learn about the VIN number.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO FIND THE VIN NUMBER ON A CAR? YOUTUBE VIDEO